Math: Teaching Expanded Form

Super Teacher Ideas Math Lesson : Expanded Form Activity
Activities & Lesson Ideas
Easy, Fun Way to Teach Expanded Form
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Number Cards to Teach Expanded Form
Submitted by Claire from Tennessee
3rd Grade Teacher


My students and I love our math lesson on expanded form. Expanded form can be boring to teach and to learn. It can also be a difficult concept for third graders, so I have tried to come up with ways to make it interactive. The best way so far has been using number cards.

I use 8 1/2 x 11 paper and make cards labeled with the digits 0-9 on one side and zero on the back. I also make several commas. I pass out the cards randomly and then say a number (ex. 56,291). The students with the cards work to build the number in front of the class. We check to make sure they are correct and I write it on the board.

Then we look at each digit one at a time. You can easily see the value of each digit if one child holds their card up and the others flip their cards to the zero side. (ex. 6 is really 6,000 and 9 is really 90). I write each number we see on the board in expanded notation. I find that this helps place value become more concrete in the students' minds. It also helps them see where the values come from. They really enjoy moving around to make the numbers as well.



Webmaster note:  Great idea, Claire!  It's a great, visual way for kids to see how and why expanded form works.  It's also a super way to get kids actively involved in the lesson.  Thanks for submitting this!