Home » Math » One FREE Expanded Form Game to Build Number Sense

Need to work on place value? Check out this fun expanded form game designed to work on place value and building number sense.

You can get this free download at the bottom of the post by clicking on the blue button.


“Hey mom, what’s 24 x 7?”

I glanced up from the computer, recognizing that this question could lead to a teachable moment.

“Well…the 2 represents 20 and 20 x 7 = 140…..” I began.

I continued to work through the problem out loud, asking questions when I knew he would know the answer. Finally, he proclaimed,  “Oh wow, there are 168 hours in a week.”

He turned back to the TV and quickly became engrossed in his show, but the short conversation reminded me how far my math skills have come.

Place Value

Before I began teaching an incredible program that stressed place value, I would NEVER have been able to solve that problem in my head. I would have had to grab a pencil and paper and work it out with the traditional algorithm. As I began understanding and teaching place value, I was amazed that I could now perform mental math. My math skills grew by leaps and bounds my first year of teaching as I followed a curriculum designed to build number sense.  Through this, I began to respect the importance of teaching place value.

Check out this other great program that builds number sense.

Ruth Rumack from Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space Blog states, “ Once a child has a good understanding of place value, he or she will have an easier time with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, expanded notation, etc. Place value is the “why” behind the basics of mathematics; it teaches beyond memorization and repetition.”

Teaching expanded form is one way of building number sense and place value skills. So here is an expanded form game to make this learning even more fun!

Expanded Form Game

Did you know September 19th, is talk like a pirate day? Well in honor of this fun day, I decided to bring a little fun to place value and create a game with a pirates theme.


You can make this game simple or you could add in some extra “Arrrgh” to it by adding pirate sensory bins and burying the cards in the bins. Fun A Day has 10 great pirate sensory bins or you can grab this cute pirate chest and sand from Amazon for an almost no prep sensory bin. Either way, the extra fun will definitely get your children saying, “Me Hearties” as they play.

Set up is simple:

  1. First, print off enough game boards for each player, and one set of game cards
  2. Next, cut out the game cards, and laminate if your little ones will be digging for them in a sensory bin.
  3. Finally, pull out the sums (the cards with pirate hats on) and place them to the side. Make a stack of the addends or bury them in your bin.

Pirate Buried Treasure Themed Sand Toy with Treasure Chest - Sand Toy, Beach Toy, Sandbox Toy, Wet Sand Sensory BinPirate Buried Treasure Themed Sand Toy with Treasure Chest – Sand Toy, Beach Toy, Sandbox Toy, Wet Sand Sensory BinSensory Sand (2 Pounds, Beige)Sensory Sand (2 Pounds, Beige)


Play Time

  1. First, give three sums to each player. The players will then place a sum after each equal sign.

This does require some strategy. It may not be best to place the sum of 64 where the equation only has room for two addends. Placing a 22 there is probably a better choice. 


2.  Next, the players take turns pulling addends. If they can use the addend they pulled, they place it on their sheet. But if they can’t use it, they place the addend in a discard pile. If a player draws a coin, they may grab two more cards. Did they grab a picture of a pirate walking the plank?? Whoops! They just lost their turn.

3.  The game ends when a player has filled in all their squares and they have three correct equations.


If your lads and lassies understand place value, they have truly found the booty. Mental math becomes much easier, and that is a treasure worth finding. Don’t heave hoo a whole lot of worksheets at them to develop this precious skill though. Grab this freebie, and get your pirate talk on!


You may be interested in this activity too. Continue place value work with this fun color the pirate activity.


Or get the full game…to work on 100 and 1,000’s HERE!!!


This is a subscriber freebie. If you are already a subscriber, check the most recent email for the latest password. If you aren’t a subscriber, sign up below and the password will be provided in the first email you receive. You will also get $2 off to use the You’ve Got This Store.


You’ll find it under the Building Number Sense Section!




3 thoughts on “One FREE Expanded Form Game to Build Number Sense

  1. Can I ask what program it is that emphasized place value that you referenced?

    1. rachelpeabody@yahoo.com says:

      Yes, my first year of teaching, my school adopted Everyday Math. I loved it, and when it was time to purchased a math curriculum for my children, this is what I choose. I seriously couldn’t do any mental math before I started working with that curriculum. I will admit that some people don’t like it, since it teaches different ways to add and subtract. For example, they teach students to add using place value. 12 + 23 would be added like 10 + 20 = 30 and 2+3 = 5. Hope that helps!!

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