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  • Shannon de Winnaar

"What is your number?" Develop Place Value Skills with the Trading Game

Updated: 2 days ago

Place value is an incredibly important skill that children need to learn and clearly understand when they are starting out with learning math. Moving through their primary years, children learn such things as whole numbers, 4 operations, fractions, decimals, percentages etc., all requiring a solid understanding of place value. The Trading Game is a wonderful game you can play with your children at home. It is easy to set up and super fun and engaging.


What resources you will need:

  • Pop sticks or lollipop sticks

  • Rubber bands

  • Dice (Google virtual dice if you can not find one at home)

  • Place Value Chart (you can print it or draw it on a piece of paper)


Place Value Chart

*the number of columns would depend on your child’s age.

** suggested:

  • 6 years of age and below – ones and tens

  • 7 years of age – ones, tens and hundreds

  • 8 years of age – one, tens, hundreds and thousands

*** If you have an older child or a child who is finding math hard, I suggest starting at ones and tens and slowly moving to hundreds and thousands.


How to play:


Explain to your child that as you roll the dice you are going to add pop sticks to the one’s column, but there can only be 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 or 9 in the one’s column.


Once you get to 10 or more, you must bundle the single pop sticks up into a group of 10 and put a rubber band around them and then place the bundle in the tens column and the left-over single pop sticks in the ones column.


*For older children you can explain that you can only have 9 or less bundles in the ten’s column, once you get to 10 bundles of ten you need to put a rubber band around the 10 bundles of ten and move it to the hundred’s column.


Step 1: Give your child a handful of pop sticks.


Step 2: Roll a 6-sided dice.


Step 3: Ask the child to read the dice and add that many pop sticks to the ones column.


Step 4: After each roll ask the child “What is your number?”


*Once they have moved from the ones column to having bundles in the tens column, encourage counting in tens and then counting in ones.


Step 5: Continue to roll the dice and ask your child to add the pop sticks to the columns and ask your child what their number is.



More ideas to extend the game with your child once they understand the concept:

  • Race to 100 – see how fast they can play until they get to 100.

  • Give the child a number to start at e.g., 45 and then they go from there.

  • Race to 0 – start with bundles of 10 or 100 and as they roll, they must break bundles and take pop sticks away. The concept of borrowing is important for subtraction.

  • If using a dice with a high number of sides, you will move through the game quicker and will need to trade more often.




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