Finny loves ‘Andy’s Safari Adventures’ so Ioan set up a place value challenge for him.

What is place value?

Place value is the value of each digit in a number. It is important that children understand that while a digit can be the same, its value depends on where it is in the number. 

For example, the 5 in 350 represents 5 tens, or 50; however, the 5 in 5,006 represents 5 thousands, or 5,000


  • Home made Andy wooden figure
  • Schleich animals
  • Hundred board
  • Brown scarf
  • Leaves
  • Dice
  • Base Ten set
  • Grimms concentric rings
  • Sticks

Problem solving

“Andy has lost his animals. Can you help him get them back?”

“Which numbers has the crocodile stolen?”

“To save the warthog from the tigers, you need to roll the dice and add the numbers up.”

Part 1: Finny had to identify the three-digit numbers (hundreds, tens and ones).

Part 2: He chose to represent the three-digit numbers with the base ten. This made it easier to add up the total.

He had eight hundreds, four tens and ten ones, so he swapped his ten ones for another ten.

“The zebra is trapped. Work out the total of the part-whole model and set the zebra free.”

Ioan set up the rings as an example of the part-whole method. It can demonstrate the relationship between a number (whole) and it’s components (parts). In this example, the components were split in to hundreds, tens and ones.

Ioan had picked a tricky number for Finny as he had included ten hundreds. Luckily, Finny knew that ten hundreds was the same as a thousand.

“The orangutans are learning to jump in tens but they can’t realise their total. Can you?’

Obviously our aim was to work on some place value, but these giggles are really why we do it.

DfES National Curriculum (2013)

Numeracy Year 3 programme of study

Number – number and place value

  • count from 0 in multiples of 100; find 100 more or less than a given number
  • recognise the place value of each digit in a three-digit number (hundreds, tens, ones)
  • compare and order numbers up to 1000
  • identify, represent and estimate numbers using different representations
  • read and write numbers up to 1000 in numerals and in words
  • solve number problems and practical problems involving these ideas.