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Top 4 Ways I’m Teaching Decimals

to my 4th & 5th Grade

Are you frantically searching the internet because you’re teaching decimals and you NEED ideas. Teaching decimals is hard. Are your students struggling with conceptual understanding of decimals and you’re fighting the urge of just showing them all the “short cuts” that landed you (and I) hating math and feeling like we’d never be a “math person”?

Don’t worry. You’re in the right place! I can help. Below you’ll find my Top 4 ways to Teach Decimals to 4th & 5th graders. You got this! You’re already doing the right thing by looking for a richer, more meaningful method to teach your students. Now, let’s get to work!

#1 Use Base 10 Blocks for Teaching Decimals

Teaching Decimals Place Value Warm Up Routine Homework

We LOVE manipulatives in math for helping students conceptualize place value in younger grades, but sometimes we forget the POWER manipulatives have in ALL grades.

So, pull out your base ten blocks to teach decimals!

Start by showing students how to model decimals with base 10 blocks. First, you’ll want to start by explaining that the large cube (that often represents 1,000) will represent 1 whole for our decimal work.

Get these tools in the HANDS of your students. Whiteboards & manipulatives allow students to model decimals by building with the blocks.

Play games! In partners students can build a number & name it. Then, compare with their partner and write an inequality to show which number is greater.

#2 Create a Daily Routine to Teach Decimals

If you’re a teacher like me, you LOVE ROUTINE. Teachers love routine. But I think the reason we love routine, is because KIDS LOVE ROUTINE!

Routines allow students’ to know exactly what to expect each day. This predictable environment allows my students to feel safe to take risks in their learning. When we feel safe we are able to do things that might be scary… like adding decimals or reading a challenging passage.

Decimal of the Day

Teaching Decimals Place Value Warm Up Routine Homework

I suggest you try the DECIMAL OF THE DAY daily math routine! A number sense routine that will allow your students to practice representing decimals in various different ways.

Here’s how it works, you determine a decimal for the day & students will to represent that decimal in as many ways as they can. It can be as simple as writing the decimal on the board and having students write all the ways to show that decimal on a white board or paper.

If you’re like me and need a bit more structure, then you might create an anchor chart of all the ways you want students to show this decimal.

teaching decimals place value warm up homework

Need a bit more structure? These are the Decimal of the Day templates I created to use with my students. Each day I make a copy, fill in a decimal and assign virtually on Google Classroom. I’ve also used them for homework and as a “do now” activity in person in previous years.

teaching decimals place value warm up homework

I have no time. Can I still do this routine? I’ve got you covered. I made a NO PREP decimal of the day decimal warm up resource! Basically download it and start using it right now.

Check out my TeachersPayTeachers shop for these resources — releasing Monday, 10/26

#3- Place Value Chart

Teaching Place Value is ESSENTIAL when Teaching Decimals

Another SUPER valuable resource we tend to forget about as students get older… the place value chart! This is a must have for teaching decimals to 4th & 5th graders. Using the place value chart will help students understand regrouping and the patterns between each place value in our Base 10 number system. This is the place value chart I’ve been using.

I love using place value disks when teaching this with my 4th & 5th graders. If you have counters in your classroom, perfect. (But honestly, you could even use scraps of paper!) Basically, each disk represents 1 of the unit on the place value chart. If I put 5 disks in the tenths place then I have 0.5, because each disk represents 5 tenths. Once I get 5 more tenths I know I’ll need to regroup those 10 tenths into a 1. So I’ll remove the 10 disks from the tenths and put 1 disk in the ones place.

#4 Use Money to Teach Decimals

My last tip for teaching decimals to 4th & 5th graders is make it relatable. Decimals are abstract and when you’re learning something new it’s really hard to start at the abstract. We need to make decimals as concrete as possible. No better way to do that is using money.

Most students have experience with money and understand that cents are parts of a whole dollar. This is a big win for helping us get them to a conceptual understanding of decimals.
You could utilize this prior knowledge by doing Malk Talks with money. Also, try using a place value chart with money at the top to help them understand the regrouping of decimals from 10 pennies to 1 dime and then relating that to tenths and hundredths!

I truly hope you found these 4 tips for teaching decimals to 4th & 5th graders helpful. If you did I’d love to know what you are going to try. Please leave a comment and let me know!

So… That’s Teaching Decimals to 4th & 5th Graders

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    I help 1st – 5th grade teachers like you develop a classroom that lays the foundation for engaging and rigorous student led math instruction.

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