5 Ways To Teach Tens and Ones In First Grade

First grade truly is a year filled with all kinds of exciting "firsts". Children in this grade are just beginning to get a handle on so many important new concepts that will lay the foundation for life-long learning. One of those key concepts is place value. I know it can feel a little intimidating to teach place value to first graders, but I promise it doesn't need to be difficult. Today I'll share all about how I teach tens and ones in first grade and help my kiddos master place value! 

Here are 5 easy tips and tricks for teaching tens and ones in first grade using fun and engaging activities your students will love!

I've often heard from other teachers that math is not their favorite when it comes to classroom teaching. They share that their students struggle to grasp the concepts and they have difficulty "making it stick". Have you had this experience before? You're certainly not alone! 

Over the years I have found the best way to combat this is through daily practice and a few fun activities that will keep your students actively engaged in math practice! Curious about my go-to options? Here are my top 5!

1. Introduce Tens and Ones with Manipulatives 

You guys might already know that I am a big fan of using hands-on activities to teach in my classroom. I find that first graders really need to be able to hold materials in their hands and manipulate the pieces when it comes to tens and ones. 

For this reason, you will want to get a great set of base ten blocks. I know it's a bit of an investment, but buying a high-quality set will last you for YEARS and you really will use them every day. In my classroom, I actually made individual tubs for each student containing a set of blocks. 

Use base ten locks like these with storage bins or students to use when you are teaching tens and ones in first grade.

When we worked on place value activities, every child had their own tub to work with, making this simple to use in our daily routine. Labeling the bins by number means that each of your students can keep track of their own tub and use them at their desks or during small groups, as needed. Base ten blocks are essential as you begin to work on comparing and ordering numbers as well. These are an absolute must in my book! 

2. Play Games to Learn Tens and Ones 

It's no secret children LOVE games! First graders, especially are a rather joyous bunch that I've never known to turn down a game. Use this to your advantage and include games that will help your students grasp tens and ones place value. 

My favorite game to include for this topic is BINGO. It's such a simple, classic game that everyone already knows how to play. 

This Place  Value Bingo game is a great way to engage students in practicing place value skills.

I also love that Tens and One's BINGO allows my students to practice familiarizing themselves with base ten blocks and learning to quickly identify how many they represent. The slight "urgency" BINGO presents is the perfect motivator to help firsties challenge themselves a bit when it comes to learning tens and ones! 

Since BINGO is so much fun, I love to save this activity as a whole group game on Fun Friday. When students (and teachers) are feeling a bit worn out from the week, it's a great way to lighten the mood while continuing to learn. 

Another game-like activity that my students always love is puzzles!  Using a puzzle, students can practice place value concepts while keeping the engagement level high!  These place value puzzles give students multiple opportunities in each puzzle to practice these key skills.  But. . . students don't realize just how much they are practicing because they love the fun of the puzzle.  

3. Keep Learning Active & Exciting 

The thing about teaching a big topic like place value is that you will need to practice frequently. This means things may start to feel a little monotonous if you're not mindful of switching up your resources. Whenever our activities feel a little stale or my kiddos seem less than enthused, I like to pull out something fun to brighten up our lessons. 

Write the room is a fantastic option for kiddos that need to get the wiggles out. I love using write-the-room activities on rainy days when children are extra restless. The set I use for teaching tens and ones, asks students to travel around the room looking for cards and then counting the base ten blocks on each one they find. They write the corresponding number on their recording sheet and then continue to move through the cards until they are all filled in. I love using this activity to mix it up a bit! 

Write the room activities like this help keep students active and engaged when you teach tens and ones in first grade.

Alternatively, you could also use a write-the-room activity that focuses on identifying numbers in both the tens and one's places. This is another skill that firsties need LOTS of practice with. Write the room can help make it a bit more fun and engaging. Grab a free tens and ones write the room activity here to help get you started! 

Write the room activities like this FREEBIE help keep students active and engaged when you teach tens and ones in first grade.

4. Use Seasonal Activities for Teaching Tens and Ones 

Sometimes, all you need to freshen up a lesson is some seasonal flair, right?! I've found this to be true, especially in first grade! 

Young students love lessons that have some holiday sparkle to them. When learning to master tens and ones, I love to use a variety of activities with a seasonal theme like these digital place value activities for fall.

Fall place value activities are a great way to connect seasonal fun to math.

The fall activities I use are designed for Google Slides.  You can project them to your board making them perfect for whole group lessons, share on a tablet with a small group, or assign to students individually to complete on a device or in a technology center. 

While many of these activities are the same as some of the others we do regularly, there's something about a seasonal theme and digital game that just really perks my kiddos up. 

5. Use Daily Place Value Practice Pages 

I think one of the best ways to help your students succeed in grasping the concept of tens and ones is to practice daily!  As much as morning work is part of our daily routine, we also work on place value activities as part of our daily routine. In my classroom, I use worksheets that follow the same general outline each day and build upon each other. 

Each day students will grab their tub of base ten blocks along with their worksheet of the day and begin working on the activities. Our daily number sense worksheets cover identifying numbers in the tens and one's place, writing in expanded form, and more! I'm a firm believer that daily practice is what really makes it "click" for my firsties. 

Daily worksheets like these Daily Place Value worksheets give your students valuable tens and ones practice every day of the week.

As a bonus, since we use these every day, my students actually become quite independent in completing these worksheets. I find that adding these to our morning routine is a great way to sneak in some daily practice while also promoting some independent practice in my classroom. If you're interested in reading a more in-depth overview of how to include tens and one's practice in your daily routine, be sure to read this post. I cover my whole strategy for daily number sense practice! 

Grab Tens and Ones Daily Practice Sheets for Your Room 

Do you want to get started with a daily tens and ones practice routine? I have a special freebie just for you! Be sure to head over to my shop and snag a free sample of my daily place value activities. These activities will quickly help your students master tens and ones through daily, no-prep printable worksheets. 

Grab these Place Value and Number Sense activities to use in your classroom today as you teach tens and ones in first grade.

As I mentioned these place value activities build each day to continue challenging your students. With a new set of number sense worksheets for each month, you can be confident your students will master tens and ones!

Save This Post 

I hope you enjoyed these activities for teaching tens and ones! Save this post on your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can revisit it when you're ready to start planning! 

Use these 5 ways to teach tens and ones in first grade to help your students learn, practice, and master place value. With tens and ones activities that feel more like a game, your students will stay engaged and excited to learn. Use base ten blocks, worksheets, and manipulatives as fun ways to help students grasp an understanding of tens and ones in first grade. #tensandones #teachingtensandones #tensandonesinfirstgrade #firstgrademath

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