Monday, October 2, 2017

Using a Pill Box and Dice to Practice Place Value

One of our first math units of the year is Place Value, and I know that is true for many of you!  I wanted to share one of my favorite tools for practicing many place value concepts.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using one of my links, which helps to support the blog.  All opinions are my own and I only promote brands and products that I have used myself and truly love.  

These are just the daily pill organizers from Dollar Tree. I took the letters off by soaking them in rubbing alcohol and then wiping them off with a washcloth.  Now how do I use them?

Reading Numbers 

Students often struggle to say big numbers in the hundred thousands or millions.  I have students practice by shaking the box and then practice saying the number that they roll.  The number above would be one million, two hundred fifty-two thousand, five hundred sixty-five.

You can easily differentiate for students by changing the number of dice you use.  You can also differentiate by changing the type of dice you use.  

Writing Numbers

Students can also use the same process to practice writing numbers as well.

Expanded Form 

I also have my students use the pill boxes to practice expanded form.  They shake the box to get a number and I have them ask each other questions such as how many tens, or what is the value of the digit in the thousands place?

They can build the number using place value blocks or place value disks. Then they can write the number out in expanded form.

Again, you can differentiate by changing the number of dice in the box.

Comparing Numbers 

You can use two different boxes to have students practice comparing numbers.

Rounding Numbers 

Students can practice rounding numbers by shaking the dice and then asking themselves, what is this number rounded to the greatest place (or tens place, hundreds place, thousands place, etc).

Adding and Subtracting Numbers With Regrouping 

Use two containers to have students practice adding and subtracting numbers with regrouping.

Check out this YouTube video of an old Periscope recording where I shared some other ideas for using these:

What other uses for these simple boxes can you think of?  Have you used these Place Value Boxes in your classroom? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below or tag me on Twitter or Instagram.


  1. Great Idea to use pill boxes in such a interesting way which can help students as well

  2. I love the idea with the pill organizer and dice. I bought the pill organizer and dice at the dollar tree, but the dice are too big to turn inside the squares. Where did you buy your dice?


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