How to Make Place Value Charts for Students

By Daniel Pinzow
Teach your students to understand place value by creating a chart so they can visualize the concept.

Place value charts teach students how to count higher values and develop greater number awareness. Creating a place value chart requires knowledge of the place value system and an easy-to-use framework that students immediately recognize. A master place value chart includes several important elements, including periods above the place values and name values for each period extending to the billions or trillions place to the left and decimal values to the right.

Periods in the Chart

Using a marker, draw a large rectangular box on a large piece of cardboard. Divide the box into four rows. Further divide the top row into six smaller rectangular boxes. From left to right, label the periods as follows: billions, millions, thousands, ones, a large decimal point, and decimals. Place a comma immediately after the billions, millions and thousands periods. This reminds the students that commas separate each period, or group of three digits. Do not place a comma immediately after the ones, decimal point or decimal periods because commas are not seen in numbers smaller than 1,000.

Specific Place Values

Once the period row is complete, find the second row of your chart. Divide the second row into the same number of rectangular boxes as the first row. Further divide each of these rows into three smaller boxes except for the large decimal point box. Draw a large decimal into that box. Return to the left of the chart and write the words "hundred billions," "ten billions" and "billions" from left to right below the billions period. Move to the millions period and write the words "hundred millions," "ten millions" and "millions" from left to right. Continue moving right to the thousands period and write the words "hundred thousands," "ten thousands" and "thousands" from left to right. In the ones period, write the words "hundreds," "tens" and "ones" from left to right. Skip over the decimal point and move to the decimal period, and write the words "tenths," "hundredths" and "thousandths" in those boxes.

Completing the Chart

Divide the third, lowermost row into the exact same number of squares as the second row with the place values. Write the numerical values for each of the place values in the second row. In the large decimal point place, draw a large decimal point and write the word "AND" in capitals. The word "and" indicates that students must say that word before proceeding to the decimal place values. Write the word "PERIOD" in capital letters to the left of the top row. Write the words "PLACE VALUE" to the left of the second and third rows. Then divide the fourth and final row in the same manner as the place value rows, but leave them blank except for the large decimal point place, where you should draw another large decimal.

Introducing Numbers to the Chart

Using Microsoft Word, create a table with four rows and three columns. Type one large number into each of the boxes until you run out of numbers. Start with 0, then move to the next box and proceed until you reach the number 9. Two boxes should remain blank because there are only ten digits. Print the table and make at least three copies for each student. Instruct the students to cut out the numbers. During the lesson, ask students to create specific numbers with the place value chart. The students will place the numbers in the blank spaces on the chart.

About the Author

Daniel Pinzow served as an urban science teacher for several years. He has expertise in a variety of subjects, ranging from biology to chemistry to history to sports. In addition, he has worked extensively in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) after-school programs.