SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Have Kids Roll the Dice to Learn Place Value

Most kindergarten and 1st grade students can easily understand single-digit numbers (0-9.)

However, knowing double-digit numbers, from 10-99, often is confusing to young math students. 

Understanding “place value” is a key mathematical skill. Place value simply means the position of the numeral in a two or more digit number, and how the position of the numeral affects the overall value.

It helps a child know the difference between a “13” and a “31,” for example. In kindergarten, the focus is on double-digit value or the “ones” place and the “tens” place. By the end of 1st grade, place value is extended to three-digit numbers, or the “ones,” “tens,” and “hundreds” place(s).

Here’s an easy and fun activity to help your child understand place value when creating two-digit numbers. You will need a pair of dice, a pencil, and a piece of paper.



  • Fold the paper in half, lengthwise. Write “Tens Place” at the top of the left hand column, and “Ones Place” at the top of the right hand column.
  • Have your child roll the dice.  If she rolls a “5” and a “2” ask, “What is the smallest number you can make using those two digits? (25) “What’s the largest number you can make using the “5” and “2?” (52)                    
  • Have her write the 25, with the “2” in the “tens” place column and the “5” in the “ones” place column.  Then, write the 52 with the “5” in the “tens “ place and the “2” in the “ones” place. Keep rolling to see how many different combinations can be made.


Children love this game! Roll the dice and play often to help your child easily understand the structure and value of two-digit numbers.

When she’s easily mastered the two-digit numbers increase the difficulty. Fold the paper in thirds, lengthwise. Label the columns “Hundreds Place” on the left, “Tens Place” in the middle, and “Ones Place” on the right. Play with three dice to create the smallest and largest three-digit numbers.


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