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Lesson Plans
Place Value Riddles
1st–2nd Grade

CCSS Math: Number & Operations in Base Ten
  • 2.NBT.A.1: Understand that the three digits of a three-digit number represent amounts of hundreds, tens, and ones.
  • 2.NBT.A.3: Read and write numbers to 1000 using base-ten numerals, number names, and expanded form.
Materials Needed


Print a Place Value Math Riddles reproducible for each student.


Tell students you are going to write a number riddle and ask them to solve it. Try these riddles:

  • “I am 200 + 30 + 6. What number am I?” (236)
  • “I have 5 hundreds, 7 tens and 9 ones. What number am I?” (579)
  • “I am 400 + 8. What number am I?” (408)
  • “I have 3 tens, 4 hundreds and 1 one. What number am I?” (431)

Note: Point out that the last two riddles were a bit tricky since one number didn’t have any tens, and the other one named the number of tens before naming the number of hundreds!


  1. Explain to students that the riddles they just “solved” are examples of different ways to express a number by breaking it apart by place value (its ones, tens, hundreds and so on).
  2. Write “7 hundreds, 2 tens, 8 ones” on a whiteboard or chart paper. Point out that you have written the place values of each of the numerals in hundreds, tens and ones. Explain aloud that, in standard form, this number is 728, and that the numerals 7, 2 and 8 each represent, or stand for, a certain place value. As you underline each number one at a time, say aloud, “The 7 stands for 7 hundreds, the 2 stands for 2 tens and the 8 stands for 8 ones.” If needed, use base 10 blocks to help support understanding.
  3. Write 700 + 20 + 8 and tell students that this expression is called expanded form. Ask, “What is this number in standard form?” Underline the 7, 2 and 8 to show that the standard form of this number is also 728, which stands for 7 hundreds plus 2 tens plus 8 ones.
  4. Give students a chance to practice expressing numbers in standard form by first looking at their expanded forms or place values. Encourage student volunteers to approach the board and underline the numerals that make up each number in standard form. For example, when looking at the expanded form 300 + 40 + 5, a student would underline the 3, 4 and 5 before writing the number in standard form: 345.

  5. Here are a few examples to try:

    • 600 + 30 + 1 (631)
    • 4 hundreds, 7 tens, 9 ones (479)
    • 100 + 7 (107)
    • 5 ones, 3 tens, 2 hundreds (235)

Independent Practice

  1. Give each student a copy of the Place Value Math Riddles reproducible.
  2. Instruct students to write each number in standard form and then write the name of the corresponding letter above each answer to solve the riddle.

the 1st–2nd Grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)




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