It's the time of the year where everyone is working on place value no matter what the grade. For teachers in early elementary, there are plenty of fun hands on activities that you can use to help students figure out how place value works.
I played this game last night with one of the students I tutor and we raced to 10 000. I've also played it with grade 1 students where we race to 100. The game is called "Race to ____" (insert number you're racing to. Students need a place value mat, base ten blocks and dice. When I played with my student last night I used place value dice. (Like the ones below I bought from Box Cars and One Eyed Jacks.
I wanted the place value dice as we were working to 10 000 and I knew it would take FOREVER with a single digit die. We used the single digit and double digit dice to start. I've also done this with just a single digit dice (although I usually use the 12 sided die not the 6 sided die). What the student does is he/she rolls the die and places that many units or tens on the place value mat. So for example; I rolled a 60 and a 5. I place 6 tens and 5 ones on my place value mat.
Then my partner rolls and places the units on his/her place value mat. It's my turn again and I roll a 20 and an 8. I added 2 tens and an 8 to my place value mat. Looking at my mat now, I realize I have 13 ones in the ones place.
This makes me realize that I can't have more than 10 little ones in the ones place so I take 10 of those ones and swap them out for a ten rod. One adaptation that you can do to this game is draw little frames on the place value mat so that students realize when the number is full (ie: only 10 spots) but they are usually pretty fast at figuring this out.
This is a great game for getting students used to making groups of tens. It also reinforces math talk as students can count their number after every turn and verbalize what they have. You can also challenge your stronger students to discuss who has the greater number, how far you are away from your goal, etc.
Here are the written up instructions for this game if you'd like to share it with your students in class. I wrote it up to 1000 but it's in word so you could easily change it up a bit and make it to 100 or to 10 000. Enjoy!