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The Best Place Value Grid Ever: Your Free Printable Place Value Concertina For KS1 and KS2

A place value grid is an essential part of any primary school teacher’s toolkit; place value underpins so much of what children learn in maths, and having a simple way to help them grasp these concepts is invaluable.

But finding one to use and reuse can be difficult.

Not any more!

Our printable place value grid is exactly the sort of simple, easy to recreate resource that’s brilliant to have in your back pocket ready for the start of the year!

What is a place value grid?

A standard place value grid or place value chart is a simple pictorial guide to support pupils’ understanding of digit value in a number.

The size and complexity of the place value grid will vary as a child progresses from Year 1 to Year 6.

Place value grid KS1

In Year 1 your place value grid probably has nothing more than tens and ones on it, looking like this

place value grid tens and one
Tens and ones place value grid

Place value grid KS2

Then by the time pupils get to Year 6 their place value grid will not only go up to a ten million on the left hand side but include decimals to thousandths on the right.

Place Value Grid KS2
Place value grid KS2

How a place value grid works

The idea behind these handy maths resources is simple; pupils can quickly and accurately find the result of multiplying and dividing a given number by 10, 100 and even 1000 or more. They do this by moving numbers left and right on the grid through different place values, depending on the amount they are being multiplied/divided by. 

For example, dividing a three digit number by 10 means simply moving all three digits one column to the right. Multiplying by 100 would mean moving the digits two columns to the left. 

Importantly, because place value charts can be made that run into decimal places as well as whole numbers, children can clearly visualise what actually dividing or multiplying decimals does to the value of each digit.  

Why use a place value grid?

The beauty of a place value grid is that it can be reused throughout maths lessons from Year 1 to Year 6 (and for SATs revision). At KS1 you may only make use of tens and hundreds, but place value grids can be easily modified to cover thousandths, ten thousands, hundred thousands – however far you need them to go for KS2 maths.

You can create a decimals place value chart that focuses only on the ones place and below or one that looks at negative numbers, and how place value works for them.

Once the basics of using a place value grid have been established in class, they can be used to aid learning of all manner of place value related topics; they are a good way to help pupils get to grips with ordering numbers, for example. 

Of course, they can also be used in conjunction with other place value worksheets and resources, such as place value mats, place value arrow cards and so on. 

Put an end to place value misconceptions

One of the things you’ll hear time and again in discussions about place value is this:

“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 with pupils’ understanding of place value when decimal places are added into the mix. 2.9 multiplied by 10 is definitely not 2.90!

If you’re teaching place value at KS2 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.

While dienes and other standard maths curriculum resources can be useful for understanding place value for different numbers in isolation or for addtion and subtraction, more complex operations need something else.  

The best place value grid

As a teacher you already know how important the place value grid or place value chart is in your teaching but did you know there was a way to turbo charge its effectiveness?

Here’s how: turn your simple place value grid into a 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!

Place Value Concertina

All the instructions you need are in this free printable resource.

Place Value Concertina

Your fun, never-fail resource designed to banish the misconception 'to multiple a number by 10, a 0'

How to use your place value grid or place value concertina

Once you’ve made your place value concertina, simply ask students to make a number. In the example below we have made 369.

place value grid example 369

Multiply by 10 using your place value grid

Then ask them to multiply by ten, by moving the numbers one column each to the left. They will also need to add a zero as the place holder for the Ones column. Not for nothing did my class always call it Zero the Hero!

place value grid example 3690

Divide by 10 using your place value grid

If you want to divide 369 by 10 then you simply move the numbers one column each to the right as seen in the picture below. Pupils are quick to pick up the idea and process of physically moving the digits. This embeds the concept for them correctly, helping them to move on to bigger numbers and more complex concepts.

On a place value chart (as shown below), not only is it clear that this is the answer, children can further see that 9 is now the the tenths place. Dividing by 10 once again would move the 9 into the hundredths place and the 6 into the tenths place etc. 

place value grid example 36.9

You can also move on to multiplying by 100, moving two columns left and needing two zeros and so on.

Place value grid activity ideas

My pupils have always loved this place value concertina resource and we play games with them including me calling out clues for a number and them adding the right digits into the columns to show the answer. 

  • I am a three-digit number. My tens digit is 6 less than my ones digit and 1 less than my hundreds digit. If you multiply me by 7, the estimated product is 1,400. What number am I? (For more tricky ones I might ask them to work in pairs or groups). 
  • Ask children to each make a number (you may want to specify for example a 3-digit or 2-digit number or a number with 1 decimal place) in their concertina. They can then show their number to a partner and together try adding/ subtracting one number from the other. This will help to reinforce place value in addition and subtraction. 

I hope you find this place value grid useful. This free 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!

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Jodie Lopez
Jodie Lopez
EdTech Consultant
Former Teacher
Jodie is a Freelance EdTech Consultant and multi-award-winning former primary teacher. In her spare time, she writes for Third Space on teaching for Mastery.
Downloadable resource

Place Value Concertina

Your fun, never-fail resource designed to banish the misconception 'to multiple a number by 10, a 0'

Download Now

Place Value Concertina

Downloadable resource

Your fun, never-fail resource designed to banish the misconception 'to multiple a number by 10, a 0'

Download Now