Pirate-themed Expanded Form Game | Build Number Sense | Free Printable

Expanded Form Game

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

“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.

Expanded form game with a pirate theme with cards with numbers on them.

Place Value Games

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!

Place Value Expanded Form Game


You can make this expanded form 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 some cute pirate chests 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.

How to Play Expanded Form Games

  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. 

Expanded form game with a pirate theme with cards with numbers on them.

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.

Expanded form game with a pirate theme with cards with numbers on them.

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. Grab this freebie, and get your pirate talk on!

You may be interested in this pirate-themed place value 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 expanded form game.

Expanded Form Math Games

Below is the free expanded form game printable. You can download this game by clicking on the download button.

Expanded form game with a pirate theme with cards with numbers on them.

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