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Teaching 4th and 5th Grade Place Value – Comparing the Values of Places

When teaching 4th and 5th grade place value, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

First, it’s important to help students understand that the value of a digit is based on its place.

Second, students should be able to determine how many times greater the value of a digit is when compared to the same digit in a different place in the number.

These skills are important for fourth and fifth grade students to master, as they lay the foundation for more complex math concepts down the road.

Finding The Value of a Digit in a Number

The easiest way to teach this skill to your students is to remind them of writing numbers in expanded form.

You can use a place value chart and place value discs (like the ones shown below) to emphasize the value of a digit based on its place.

4th and 5th grade place value chart and place value discs
The above place value chart and place value discs are part of my 4th and 5th grade place value units.

For example, have your students write the number 2,423,453 (as shown above). Then, ask questions like, what is the value of the four in the hundred thousands place? (400,000). What is the value of the four in the hundreds place? (400).

Once you have spent time doing this, you’re ready to move on to comparing the values.

Comparing Same Digits in Different Places

Standards 4.NBT.1 and 5.NBT.1 can be a bit challenging for students because they are more abstract. To help with students struggling with these skills, I created hands-on place value arrow manipulatives that bring the concepts to life!

With this resource, students will build the given number on a place value mat. Then, they’ll use the arrows to compare how many times larger/smaller the values are.

The larger the difference in value, the larger the arrow, and vice versa.

The arrow manipulatives and task cards included in this resource allow students to make visual connections and see the relationships between digits in multi-digit numbers, facilitating a deeper understanding of place value.

You can even use them with decimals as shown below.

Check out how to use the place value arrows in this video.

Teachers have found these hands-on manipulatives really helped their students. Here are some of their comments.


⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”By far, the BEST product I’ve come across to help students understand this concept. You will not regret this purchase!”

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐“These were so life-changing for my class! It REALLY helped them visualize the concept which led them to understanding!”

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”This was perfect for my struggling students! They were able to “see” the concept and manipulate the numbers. 100% of my students are now proficient!

Teach Your 4th and 5th Grade Students Place Value With These Resources

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