Place Value Number Cards

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Many students find place value a very difficult concept, and many teachers struggle to teach it effectively.

When we began homeschooling, we used the Singapore math curriculum; then we tried out Miquon and the Cuisenaire rods for a bit; and finally we arrived at Montessori. Singapore and Montessori both use number cards that introduce the decimal system. The differences in use are that Montessori uses the golden beads along with the cards, has two different sizes of number cards, uses different colors for units, tens and hundreds, and uses them for more concepts than Singapore does; and Singapore recommended cutting off one corner of each card to help the student align them correctly to form numbers.

Large and Small Number Cards | Tarjetas grandes y pequeños de números

You can buy the Montessori number cards in various Montessori stores, like Kid Advance, IFIT Montessori, o Alison’s Montessori. They are wooden, and will last a long time. For Montessori math work, you need one set of large number cards from 1 – 9,000, and three sets of small number cards from 1 – 3,000.

Since there are lots of Montessori materials I need to buy, I’m always looking for those I can make easily at home without much expense. This was one of those materials I thought I could make myself. Since I was making my own, I wanted to incorporate the clipped corner of the Singapore cards. I also wanted to make them easy to print, and without using much color ink. And this is how ours turned out:

Tarjetas de valor posicional Montessori Singapore

The cut corner helps in aligning the cards correctly to form large numbers. When you use the Montessori cards, you just teach students to always line them up from the right. I don’t think it is difficult for students to learn and remember to do it that way; the cut corner just makes it a little easier. It works like this:

Montessori Singapore Number Cards

What I love most about number cards is that they teach place value, and students learn it without effort. They can see very clearly what each digit represents when they take apart the number. They can also start to form and work with large numbers very young, because they understand place value so well. You don’t have to limit them to numbers under 20 as kindergarteners, or under 100 as first graders.

In Montessori, the two sizes of number cards are used in presentations with the golden beads that teach the processes of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In the addition presentation, for example, three children participate, and each has their own set of small number cards. They use their set to form an addend, which they then build with golden beads. When they put the golden beads together to find the sum, they use the large number cards to form that sum. It shows the idea that when you add, the sum will be larger than your addends. (Of course, you have to clarify this later when they learn about negative numbers, but when they have this first presentation on adding with the golden beads, they are usually four years old, and there’s no reason to confuse them with that idea at that age.)

Sumar con perlas doradas Additon with golden beads

When I made my number card sets, I was thinking about teachers in traditional classrooms, too, and I made cards that can be used to represent numbers up to units of millions. Students usually work on numbers of this size in fourth grade in traditional schooling, and it’s not at all uncommon to find few who really grasp the idea of place value at that age. These cards can help with that. For Montessori children, they will have moved on to the stamp game and then the large bead frame to work with numbers of that size, and they do that at six or seven years of age.

If you’re interested in using the Montessori number cards, you can find them at the links to the Montessori stores I shared earlier; or if you want some you can print, you can find the large cards free at Montessori Print Shop, and the small cards for $.99 also at  Montessori Print Shop. You do have to use color ink to print those cards.

If you want cards you can print in black and white, that have the clipped corner, and that can be used with numbers up to millions, you’ll be interested in the resource I sell. It has the large number cards up to 9,999 and the small number cards up to 9,999,999. They can be printed in black and white on red, blue, and green paper; or they can be printed in color on white paper. Only the numbers are in color, so it won’t use much ink. This resource can be found in my TpT store; just click on the picture below to go there. There is an English and a Spanish version.

Tarjetas de valor posicional


Clipped Corner Place Value Cards


I’ll share a few more resources I made that teach place value this weekend. What is the hardest part for your students when you teach place value? What are teaching strategies you use?



Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish

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