Foldable Number Sheets

Another Tool To Teach Kids Our Number System


What does 838 mean?

Well, we automatically say Eight Hundred and Thirty Eight. Actually, the fact that it's automatic is testament to hours of patient teaching and practice when we were young. Just think about it..

  • The two '8' digits have very different meanings - even though they look the same!
  • Even the meaning of '8' itself is something we had to learn. It probably took us several years!
Our number system is only a few centuries old. The ancient Romans and Babylonians had very different systems, with completely different symbols for '800' and '8'.

Anyway, if you've got young kids who are learning our number system, and getting all confused with 1's, 10's and 100's places and all, take heart.

  • If they are normal in every respect, they will "get it" eventually. We are continually exposed to numbers. On buses, on money, on television, in books... The constant drilling will make us learn it. Most kids will, from time to time, "play" with numbers of multiple digits from time to time. Only a young child has the patience to actually count to three hundred and ninety seven!
  • Besides, there are teaching and learning tools that can help speed up the process. Here's one, for example. And this page describes another. I call them foldable number charts.

I found out about these foldable number charts from my son's primary school math book. The book even had cut-out charts you could make for yourself. How useful I thought, and decided to make something similar available on this website.

The concept is simple. A foldable number chart is a strip of paper, with blank squares for digits, and next to them, words indicating the value of the digits. The strip can be folded to hide the words. So, for example,

7 hundreds 2 tens 4 ones

can be folded to hide the words, leaving just
7 2 4

and so help to explain what 724 really means.

I've provided, here, a foldable number chart for you to print, cut out and use. The file has number charts of three sizes.

  • Three small ones, on page 1.
  • On page 2, one larger one, which you'll have to join together with sticky tape.
  • Finally, one big enough for classroom use, which spans several pages.
There are many ways to use these. The following videoclip shows how I used them with my son, to try to address some point of confusion. The clip was not rehearsed, but I'm sure this will be quite obvious as you watch it! The wooden blocks are the wood version of these tiles.

The numbers I write can't be seen in the video. Apologies in advance for that. However, it's more important to watch how I use the foldable number sheets than to see what I actually write.