Place Value Circles

When we think about using math manipulatives in the classroom many times it is about the primary grades, expecting that intermediate students are beyond them. Not so! As a 3rd grade teacher I find that most of my incoming students are still at the concrete stage. My math series spends a LOT of time on representational, though, so I must try to get get them ready quickly. Place value is our first concept, and I've been wanting something besides the base-10 blocks to use with my kids. This week I decided to get some place value circles made. I had a bunch of craft foam so I spent some time with the die cut machine and the small circles block! Here's what I have now:

Now I'm labeling them and placing them in bags. I don't have enough right now for each student but I can use them during small group instruction. My plan is to eventually have a complete class set of 18. The only one I'm not really happy with is the 1,000,000 circle -- think I'll look for a deep purple next time I get to the craft store. 

My first idea was to use a scrapbook circle punch, but the foam wouldn't fit. While they could be cut by hand I just don't have the patience for something like that :) . The die cut block cut 9 at a time. A big sheet of craft foam gave me over 80 circles. A little time with a permanent marker and voila!

Now we just need some place value charts and they are ready to use. I like to put my place value charts inside plastic so I can use dry erase markers on them -- perfect for moving to the representational stage. I'm fortunate to have a class set of these QuickView Jackets from Really Good Stuff, but you could also make your own.

If you would like a set of place value charts to use with your manipulatives you can get mine here. If you decide to make your own place value circles, I'd love to hear how they work in your classroom. Enjoy!


  1. I teach 4th grade and we need to review place value with concrete models every year too! I like the idea of foam place value circles because they are quite and difficult to build with (haha)! Thank you for sharing your place value mats. I already downloaded my freebie!

    The Teaching Thief

  2. I teach 2nd and I love this idea to have my students practice place value, especially since with common core we'll have to work more on expanded form. This is great! That's for the idea!
    Cathy :)


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