Difficulty visualising place value groupings

Diagnostic questions

  1. Provide the student with 30 single iceblock sticks and 20 bundles of 10 sticks. Place a two-digit number in front of the student, for example, 32, and ask the student to model it with the sticks.
  2. Provide the student with place value blocks (ones, tens, and hundreds) and ask them to model the two-digit number used in 1.
  3. Give the student a three-digit number and ask them to model the number using equipment of their choice.

What to notice in the student’s response

Does the student try to count out the number using single sticks?
When using place value equipment, can the student correctly differentiate between tens and hundreds?
Does the student choose to use place value blocks to model the three-digit number?

Deliberate acts of teaching


Materials can help provide a structure for students to organise their thinking.

Read it–Write it–Make it–Change it
Choose a sentence from the newspaper that contains a two- or three-digit number. For example, “The Black Caps won by 63 runs.”

Ask the student to read the number in context and to write it on a laminated place value house, starting from right to left, using one digit per room.

Ask the student to make a model of the number using place value blocks.

Ask the student what would change in the model and in the written number if the Black Caps had got 10 more runs or 100 more runs.

Ask the student what would change if the Black Caps had got 32 more runs.

What to do next if the student is stuck

Work with the student to collect groups of ten, one hundred, and one thousand. Use play money to familiarise the student with ones, tens, and hundreds.

Initiating home-based activities

Parents can challenge the student to increase or decrease numbers by 10 or 100.

Next teaching steps back in the classroom

Provide the student with access to place value equipment to use when working on problems involving addition and subtraction.
Digital Learning Objects can be used in class for independent practice.