There are so many fun and engaging resources and lessons that I really want to use, but there just isn’t time to squeeze it all in.

That’s one of the reasons I love adding a “buffer week” at the end of my math units. Whenever I finish a unit, including our unit assessment, I wait a week before starting my next math unit. That extra week is when I teach all of my extra lessons that aren’t in my math units.

In this post, you can learn more about the “extras” that can be added to your place value unit. During this week of instruction, I continue to work intensively with need based small groups of students. At the end of the week, I allow those students to retest. Sometimes students need that extra time and support before moving on.

## Emoji Place Value

One of my absolute favorite place value activities is Emoji Place Value. In the activity, each student receives a different cell phone with a text conversation on the screen. The conversation is full of different emojis. Each emoji is assigned a different value and students determine the total value of their text conversation. Once students find the value of the conversation, they solve 9 different problems solving questions. I created four versions of this activity:

- version 1-place value through the thousands place
- version 2-place value through the ten-thousands place
- version 3-place value through the hundred thousands place
- version 4-decimals (numbers range from thousands place to hundredth place).

## 3 Act Task

At the minimum, I like to incorporate at least one 3 act task with each math concept I teach. Since place value is the first unit of the year, this is also students’ first experience with a 3 act task. I got the idea for this task from Robert Kaplansky’s website which is **full **of ideas and videos for teaching math.

In this task, as the opening act, show students a picture of a floor design created out of pennies. I always tell students that the home owners unknowingly created **The Great Math Debate**.

After students look at the floor and give their opinions, share how it caused the great math debate on Twitter. I copied and pasted some of the best *and clean* tweets about the floor. Students can easily see how people were arguing over the value of the pennies

Students are always shocked at the responses! Not only does this incorporate math but it shows students the need to be able to articulate their reasoning and to prove their accuracy. As an extension, have students determine how many pennies they would need to have $13,000 or $1,300.

## Place Value Escape

You can think of breakout lessons or escape lessons as a type of academic scavenger hunt. Students solve problems to discover a clue or code that will take them to their next problem. You can use Escape From Place Value Island as a culminating task for your place value unit.

To begin the lesson, I give each group a manila envelop full of the resources they will need for the activity and a box that is locked with three different locks.

Students begin with the baggie labeled with Clue 1. For example, in this clue, students determine which digit is in the ten thousands place in for each number. Once students identify the digit, they place the digits in order to create the smallest number possible and use that code to unlock the 4-digit lock.

Students move on to Clue 2 to solve five place value problems by determining which student is correct in various word problems. Students write the first letter of each students’ name on a line at the bottom of the page. The letters will create the code to open the 5-letter lock.

To find the code to open the last lock, students solve each of the rounding problems. As students round, they will color the corresponding number on the Clue 3 Recording Sheet. After students shade in the numbers, they should look at their paper to determine the next code.

When students open the lock, they will be able to open the box. However, inside the box is a smaller box with another lock on it. Students use Clue 4 cards to find the code for the next clue. To solve this clue, students multiply and compare 14 equation task cards using the symbols <, >, and = and determine how many of each type of symbol are used. Those numbers will determine the colors on the lock.

When students enter the code and unlock they box, they are able to escape the island with a cell phone (mini phone eraser).

Of course, there is an all digital version of the escape. That’s perfect for distance learning or when you don’t have access to the boxes and locks.

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