Place value is a key concept within the mathematics curriculum and follows children throughout their mathematical journey. It is important that children understand the meaning of a number ie that the 5 in 523 represents 500. Without this understanding, children will struggle when adding or subtracting multi-digit numbers. An important application of place value comes from comparing numbers. This simple Penguin Place Value Number Game helps children order three digit numbers, compare them and look for patterns.
Resources needed for the Penguin Place Value Number Game
* Three dice
* A container to hold three dice – we have used a Mr. Penguin ice cube tray (UK Amazon and US Amazon)
* Paper, pencil and scissors
* Magnetic numbers and post it notes (optional) or use our DIY Wood Slice Numbers.
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How to set up this simple Place Value Number Game
Take the lid off of the Mr. Penguin Ice Cube Tray. Place three dice above each other in the tray and secure the lid shut. You can easily play the game by simply rolling the three dice. However, the Mr. Penguin Ice Cube Tray contains the dice and stops them from rolling off of the table, therefore, limiting any distractions.
Related Article – Penguin Number Names Activity
How to play Compare and Order Numbers with Dice
1. Shake the Mr. Penguin Ice Cube Tray to move the dice around in their individual compartments.
2. Place the Ice Cube Tray on the table and record the digits rolled ie 3 4 6
3. Write down the different 3 digit numbers you can make with these digits. Write them as a list. We used magnetic numbers to help. This meant my son could easily move the digits around before writing them.
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4. Shake the Mr. Penguin Ice Cube Tray again. Record those numbers ie 5 6 3
5.List all the possible 3 digit numbers again. This time we used post it notes to help move the numbers around.
6. Repeat this process three more times so that you have a total of five lists.
7. Look at each list and put the numbers into order with the smallest number first. Instead of getting my son to write out the numbers again I used scissors to cut out each 3 digit number. He then moved the pieces of paper around until he had ordered each of the five lists. We started with ordering the hundreds place first, then the tens place and then the units place.
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Questions to solve with the Compare and Order Numbers with Dice activity
Now you have ordered the numbers it is time to compare the numbers and discuss any patterns that arise. Ask your child the following questions:
- Do you always get the same amount of numbers in each list?
- When might you get fewer?
- What patterns do you notice?
If all three dice are different numbers then there are six possible 3 digit numbers. If two dice are the same and one is different then there are three possible 3 digit numbers. If all three dice are the same then there is only one possible 3 digit number.
You may wish to repeat the activity again but this time writing down 2 digit numbers. Spoiler – you still only get six sets of numbers if the dice rolled are all different.
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