Real talk- I’ve always found place value to be one of the hardest things to teach. While incredibly important, the language can be a bit unnatural and the concepts can be difficult for students to understand.
Throw in teaching in Spanish and working with language learners and teaching place value becomes even more daunting!
This is where bilingual place value games come in. I’m going to show you 5 games that you can use to teach place value to your upper elementary students. These are perfect for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.
If you’re looking for a no prep option, check out my games on TPT. They’re available in English, Spanish, and as a bilingual bundle that’s ideal for the dual immersion classroom.
1. Grand Prize Winner
Preparation: Students will work in pairs. Each pair needs a recording sheet with several blank checks.
Suggestion: Putting the recording sheets into a plastic sleeve protector allows for multiple uses!
Premise: Imagine that you and your partner are on a game show! The Grand Prize is blank, and it’s up to you to fill in the blanks. Take turns rolling the dice and then decide where to place the number you roll. The person with the largest Grand Prize each round wins!
Challenge: At the very end, add up all your money to find who’s the Biggest Grand Prize Winner!
- The goal of the game is to get the largest sum of money.
- Students roll the dice and then decide where to place that number
- One student wins each round. As a challenge, they can add up the total sum to find the Biggest Grand Prize Winner
Why it works:
This game makes place value intuitive and concrete. Students use their background knowledge of money to quickly understand that they want to put larger numbers in larger place value slots (to the left) and smaller ones in smaller place value slots (to the right).
2. I have who has
I have who has is a classic classroom game. If you’re unfamiliar you can see my full post about how to play it here.
In brief, “I have, who has?” is a fun and interactive classroom game where students sit in a circle and each player is given a card with a question or statement. The first player reads their card aloud and the person who has the answer responds by reading their card. The game continues until all cards are read and the last person to respond reads their card, completing the loop.
For teaching place value, I use cards on various forms of numbers. For example, I’ll make the “I have” statements in standard form and the “Who has?” statements in expanded form.
If you’d like a premade option, you can get my expanded form I have who has games here. I have English and Spanish up to 3 digits and up to 6 digits.
Why it works:
- Students gain valuable language practice by reading the numbers aloud
- They connect the expanded form of the number which emphasizes place value to the standard number form
3. Memory Match
To play the memory game in the classroom, you will need a set of matching cards with pairs of numbers. Shuffle the cards and lay them face down in rows. Each player takes turns flipping over two cards to try and find a matching pair. If a player finds a matching pair, they keep the cards and go again. The player with the most matching pairs at the end of the game wins.
For my number pairs, I made cards with a mix of number form, expanded form, place value form, and word form so students have to match numbers in their various states.
Why it works:
- Students have to connect numbers in various forms which emphasizes place value
4. Roll to 1,000
Preparation: Students will work in pairs. Each pair needs a recording sheet with 6 boxes. You can make this for them, have them make their own, or use my premade recording sheet.
Premise: The goal of this game is to get as close as you can to 1,000 BUT if you go over 1,000 you lose!
You and your partner will take turns rolling the dice. After you roll, you may choose to multiply that number by 1, 10, or 100. For example, if you roll a 4, you could play either 4, 40, or 400. Keep track of your total as you go. Who will get closest to 1,000?
- The goal of the game is to get as close to possible to 1,000 without going over. If you go over, you automatically lose.
- Students roll the dice and then decide if they’ll play that number in the ones, tens, or hundreds.
- Students keep a running total as they play.
- At the end of 5 rounds, students add up their total to determine the winner.
Suggested questions to ask students during gameplay:
- Why did you decide to play the (6, 60, 600, etc.)?
- What number do you hope to roll? Why?
- What number do you want your partner to roll?
- Who is winning? How can you tell?
5. War card game
To play the game war in the classroom, you will need a set of cards with numbers in various forms, similar to Memory Match above.
Deal the entire deck evenly among the players. Each player flips over the top card from their stack and compares their numbers, and the player with the highest card takes both cards and adds them to the bottom of their stack.
In the event of a tie, players continue to flip over cards until a winner is determined. The player with all the cards at the end of the game wins.
Why it works:
- Students have to mentally convert numbers across their numerous forms with an emphasis on place value
- Students have to compare numbers to decide which is larger
Let's get started!
In conclusion, these five bilingual place value games offer a fun and engaging way for students to deepen their understanding of place value concepts. Whether playing in Spanish or English, these games provide a great opportunity for students to practice their math skills in a fun and meaningful way. So, give them a try and watch as your students become more confident in their understanding of place value!