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ERIC Number: EJ925284
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-May
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-1073-5836
Understanding Place Value
Cooper, Linda L.; Tomayko, Ming C.
Teaching Children Mathematics, v17 n9 p558-567 May 2011
Developing an understanding of place value and the base-ten number system is considered a fundamental goal of the early primary grades. For years, teachers have anecdotally reported that students struggle with place-value concepts. Among the common errors cited are misreading such numbers as 26 and 62 by seeing them as identical in meaning, failing to recognize that numbers can be composed of tens and ones, and incorrectly believing that large digits result in larger values regardless of the position of the digit. An underdeveloped understanding of place value can have far-reaching consequences. Notably for the elementary school student, it can inhibit and slow conceptual understanding of the basic arithmetic algorithms, whose representations rely on a place-value foundation. This article describes activities that could be modified for various audiences who would benefit from deepening their understanding of place-value concepts: (1) as a supplement to the curriculum for primary-grades students; (2) as center activities for more independent intermediate-grades students; and (3) as an appealing connection to discussions of ancient civilizations in social studies. In addition to enrichment activities, these have the potential to challenge place-value misconceptions held by students whose understanding of the number system is largely limited to rote procedures. A list of informative and useful Internet links is appended to the online version of this article. (Contains 8 figures and 2 tables.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A