I just KNEW that teaching was going to make me rich one day!
I’m not someone who really feels okay spending extra money just because a store is locally owned and operated. But then I go to a place like Frager’s Hardware, which is reasonably priced. And well stocked. And locally owned and operated. And THEN I meet an employee named Justin who spends 2 hours helping me build the place value toy that I made up in my head. And I am Frager’s most dedicated customer. Forever.
So, first of all, thank you, Justin, and thank you, Frager’s. You have done your good deed for the year.
And now, for my invention…
My students really struggle with writing numbers from words because they leave out the zeros. We talk about how place indicates value, but when they write a number, they label empty spaces with place values names, and frankly, they don’t believe me if I say that no one will be able to read their mind to find out which blank spaces are supposed to have value.
So, I’ve always wanted to have some kind of tool that physically shows students that it is necessary to put a zero unless they want to change the value of the number, a tool that doesn’t leave room for blank spaces.
This is it. Students can put the little pieces between the wood and plexi glass, and the pieces slide over to the decimal point. If you forget the zero, the pieces still slide over anyway.
I have told Justin that when I get rich on this, I’ll cut him in. So nobody start selling this before I do, okay? You can however make it yourself, and it only costs $30 for four of them!
(1) Buy one 1″ by 6″ by 8′ piece of wood and two 1/2″ by 1″ by 8′ pieces of wood. (Note: If you actually measure these pieces of wood, that is not their true lengths, but that is the lengths they give at hardware stores.)
(2) Cut each piece of wood into four 2′ pieces to make four bases.
(3) Stack them on top of eachother like in the picture, and fasten them with screws or liquid nails (which doesn’t leave any holes). Clamp them together to dry (if you own clamps).
(4) Drill a screw for your decimal point.
(5) Buy four 1/4″ by 5 1/2″ by 2′ pieces of plexi glass. Usually you have to get these cut for you.
(6) Stack the plexi glass on top of wood and fasten with silicon. Silicon is good because it’s clear. You can’t use screw with plexi glass because it tends to break. Clamp these together to dry (if you can).
Now the main piece is done. You can make the little pieces by writing on plexiglass with a permanent marker. I had about fifty 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ by 2″ pieces cut for me.
If you don’t want to make your own place value slider, then the toys below are pretty much the most popular ones for teaching place value. I haven’t seen anything like what I made here, but if you have then please let me know!