...sharing strategies for teaching second graders...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Teaching Place Value with Goldfish Colors crackers

I introduced place value using Goldfish Colors. They were on sale at Publix supermarket ten for $10.00 which really means $1.00 per bag. You pay $1.00 per bag whether you buy 1 or 100. I bought 15 bags (various flavors) because my husband eats them, too. I only needed 2 1/2 bags of Colors for my lesson. I gave each student 18 goldfish. For the first time, the yellow represented ones, orange represented tens, green represented hundreds, and red represented thousands. Each child had a dry erase marker to use on his/her desk. We drew place value charts to match the one I drew on the white board. My huge fish are magnetic, so I stuck them up on the board with the words above. I held up a baggie with a few goldfish in it and we practiced figuring out the number together before the children started with their own fish.

A teamie told me that she had to explain to some of hers that the orange goldfish had ten yellow fish in his belly, the green one had 10 orange fish in his belly, and the red one had 10 green fish in his belly.  Above the orange and yellow fish you see 2664 and 4662. One student had written his places backwards. That was a teachable moment for my students. I explained that his number should be four thousand, six hundred, sixty-two but, with the way it was written I would think he only had two thousand six hundred, sixty-four because he wrote it backward. I said I'd much rather have four thousand dollars instead of two thousand. Everyone agreed, so we agreed that the thousands go first, then hundreds, then tens, then ones. :)
  After the children had made their first number, I told them they could eat six fish, keep 12, and make a new number. They did this and were instructed they could eat some more fish, keep at least six, and make another new number. Heaven realized that I was subtracting six every time.
   Some of the children also told me they were making a picture graph out of their fish to make the number. I found it interesting that they associated the arranging of the fish with graphing (which we just finished). What does that say about their number sense? How about their grasp of place value and/or graphing? Does place value tie in with graphing and use of a key? Comments, please...

This was an awesome lesson and I carried around my checklist, watching for students having trouble. I also made smaller fish (a little smaller in diameter than a tennis ball) for my students to use to practice place value in pairs. I think one of the requirements will be to gather all the yellow fish and trade each group of ten for orange fish, etc cetera with green and red fish. I also added purple to the fish so that students who exceed can practice place value to the 10,000s.


  1. What a great lesson idea! I am going to steal it because my kidlets are struggling with place value right now.

  2. Oh My Gosh! Do you use dry erase markers on the desktops? I never thought of that. It would be so much easier than using dry erase boards.

  3. I LOVE this idea!!!

    We were taught to use varying colors of M&M's for this, but not ONLY is your idea better for my peanut allergy kid, it's ALSO easier to explain! I love the idea of the fish eating the others, because I think it'll really help them get it.

    Thanks for sharing! :) You have a new follower!

  4. Love this! I awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award!

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