Place value made easy: a practical KS1 or KS2 activity that never fails [+ Free resource and printable]

By Jodie Lopez 

It's that time again is it ever not? - when you need to revise place value. Whether you teach KS1 or KS2 (and even KS3 many say) place value activities which actually work to embed these crucial concepts can be difficult to track down. Not any more! We've got the answer - not an online game, not a technology solution, just a simple practical place value activity that can be set up in about 10 minutes. 

The biggest place value myth

Let's start with one of the things you'll hear time and again in discussions about place value:

"To multiply a number by 10 you just need to add a 0 to the end of a number."

Sound familiar? It is of course a complete myth! Whether it’s a previous teacher or a parent who’s taught this, it’s really tricky to move pupils on from believing this. Because it does sometimes work. If you multiply 29 x 10 adding a zero gives you the right answer of 290. But this concept is totally wrong and causes major problems when decimal places are added into the mix. 2.9 multiplied by 10 is definitely not 2.90.

Place Value Concertina  

If you're teaching place value to pupils for the first time, or trying to correct the misconception ready for teaching multiplication/division by 10, you’ll need a simple, tried and tested way to explain it so it sticks and your pupils don’t make the same mistake again.

What you need is the Place Value Concertina!  

All it takes is some coloured card, pens and a pair of scissors. Within ten minutes you can have a foolproof tool for showing how to move numbers to the left or right when teaching place value. It’s so simple you can even get your pupils to make it with you!

This resource has not only worked brilliantly for me during the many years of my own teaching career, but it was passed down to me by my own teacher (now retired). So thank you very much Mr Bell from Hangleton Junior School – we all owe you one!               

Free Download:


Place Value Concertina

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Let us know how you get on with this resource. And if you need more of an intervention to plug learning gaps such as place value or any other topic from KS1 and KS2 national curriculum, do get in touch as our one-to-one tuition from maths specialists is extremely effective. 

About the author

Jodie Lopez is an award winning ex primary teacher who was praised by Ofsted inspectors for her maths teaching. She has specialised in technology across the curriculum, working with a number of EdTech companies since leaving the classroom. Jodie is a judge for the Teaching Awards, giving her the great privilege of observing some of the best teachers across the country. 

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