Numbers & Place Value System – DIY

Place value is the value of each digit in a number. 

Understanding the place values (the value of the digit depends on its position or place in a number) is vital for kids before starting to learn addition. It means that the child has to understand that 685 is made of 600 and 80 and 5.

Generally kids learn to write till 10 and even 100. However, they might struggle a little to understand the numbers from 100 and above. When you say ‘one hundred and one’ they tend to visualize ‘1001’ or ’11’. This is quite normal.

Rather than teaching them to remember how to write such numbers, it is healthy to aid them with different toys and tools to understand the key basics.

Here is one such simple DIY toy or slider tool that aids the learning of numbers, digits and place values. Also it adds a lot of fun to their learning.

Supplies required:

  • Pringles can or any cylindrical can (even kitchen or toilet tissue rolls can be used)
  • An empty cylidrical can or bottle (that is slightly smaller in circumference and taller than the your above chosen can so that the pringles can snuggly fits around this)
  • Thick card stock
  • x-acto or stationery knife
  • gesso (optional)
  • Mod Podge or any sealant
  • MS Office Publisher
  • Printer


  • Measure the circumference of the pringles can using a measuring tape. Make a note of the value (say C)
  • Divide and mark the height of the pringles can with the number of digits you need. I wanted 6 digits and I cut the can into 6 small open cylinders of height 3cm each (Let us say h)
Make a note of your values for ‘C’ and ‘h’.
  • Sand the edges using a sand paper or a nail buffing tool so that the edges are smooth.
  • Coat each small cylinder with gesso (optional). You can also paint them using any acrylic paint. This will ensure a smooth surface for further steps.
  • Using Microsoft Office Publisher, Insert a table with 10 rows and 1 column. The height of the table is the value of the circumference you measured ealier (C).
  • The width of the table is the height of your individual cylinder(h).
  • Fill the table with colour of your choice.
  • Fill the numbers from 0-9 in each row respectively.
  • Now, copy paste the table to make multiple tables (as many as the number of digits you wish to have) of the same dimensions. Change the colour filling to differentiate them.
  • Print
  • Fussy cut each table
Each of these number tables is going to become a ring representing a digit.
  • Carefully paste each number table around the individual cylinders.
  • While pasting, apply glue on a smaller area press and move your fingers gently and then repeat. Work in portions.
Individual digit rings ( I have sanded the edges after sticking the numbers. It is better to sand it before)
  • Using Publisher, draw another table as below to make the slider. This table will have 1 row and 6 columns. The height of the row is your circumference (C) divided by 10.
  • The width of each column is h ( mine is 3 cm).
  • Ensure that you give very thick borders for each cell (upto 14 – 16 pts).
  • Insert another table with 1 row and 6 columns but no thick borders needed. Enter the place value names ‘Ones’ to ‘Hundred thousands’ from left to right in each column respectively.
  • Drag and align these tables such that they appear as one single table as below.
I have filled the slider table heading in such a way that the color matches with the individual place value rings.
  • Now, cut out two card stocks and an acetate sheet such that they are slightly bigger than the slider.
  • Cut and paste the slider table on top of one of the card stocks.
  • Carefully cut and remove the inside of the slider (the cells inside the thick borders).
  • At this stage, apply a good sealant or mod podge on the rings, and slider card stock, the other card stock. You can also allow them dry and give multiple coats.
  • Carefully apply glue at the back of the slider card stock (only on the sides) and paste the acetate sheet.
  • Now paste the second card stock behind the acetate sheet on one side.

  • Insert the individual digit rings
  • Paste the other sides of the card stocks together.
It is very important to choose the second cylindrical can well. It should be slightly smaller in circumference but taller in height than your pringles can or the first chosen cylinder.
This ensures that the rings are snuggly fit on them and also they can be easily moved to change the numbers.
Having a taller bottle or cylinder helps to hold them in hands on both the sides and operate it.
It is also important to sand the edges of the individual rings. This make them fit neatly next to each other.
Also having a very thick border for the slider table helps accomodate any uneven edges or gaps between the rings.
Coating everything with a sealant gives good sturdiness and makes them water proof.
Toys or tools that aid children to learn place value systems are
  • Deines blocks
  • Arrow cards

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