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Playing with Place Value

Playing with place value

Place value may seem a simple concept but it can be very difficult to teach successfully. There are many materials available to use in the classroom, but which ones work? When should they be used? Respected educator, Paul Swan, presents well-researched approaches which will help you to teach, and your students to learn, place value.

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Divide it up

The learning object L2808 Divide it up: puppies uses the context of sharing toys and biscuits among puppies in a pet shop to present sharing-as-division problems that result in remainders. Students use their knowledge of factors and multiples to predict the result of the division. After using the sharing tool to check, the remaining items are cut up to show how the whole number remainder can be expressed as a fraction.

The equal division of 17 biscuits to 3 puppies, each receiving 5 2/3.

Screen grab from L2808 Divide it up: puppies.
Source: © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2011


Demonstrate the learning object.

  • Discuss strategies for predicting the result of the division.
  • Focus attention on cutting the remaining dog biscuits into the appropriate number of equal parts and ask the students to name the fraction that has been created.

Students working in pairs can take turns in completing the problems.

Check students' understanding of the process of converting the remainder to a fraction by asking them to record and explain the solution to a similar problem on paper.