Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Where Do I Belong?

Sissy Gandy
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students locate three-digit numbers on a number line and explain their placement in this hands-on activity based on their knowledge of numbers and place value.


The student knows the place value of a designated digit in whole numbers to 1000.

The student locates and explains known and unknown numbers to 1000 or more on a number line.


-Ten 3x5 cards for students to use during the lesson
-Twenty-seven 3x5 cards numbered in three sets of 1 to 9
-Black marker
-A half sheet of plain paper for each student
-Two sheets of cardstock (8 1/2" x 11")


1. Write the numbers 1-9 on three sets of 3x5 cards (27 cards total).
2. Write 100 and 1,000 on cardstock.
3. Write down 5 three-digit numbers for students to locate on their paper at the end of the lesson. (Have two of the numbers begin with the same number in the hundreds place.)


1. Shuffle the three sets of cards and place each set face down at the front of the room so there are three piles of cards.

2. Draw a card off the top of each pile. Show the cards to the students. Ask students how to arrange these cards to make the lowest three-digit number. (For example, if 5, 1, and 7 are drawn, the lowest number one could make is 157.) Ask students what place value the 1 is in. (Students need to know the place value of ones, tens, and hundreds.) Ask students why the 1 comes first in the number.

3. Arrange the three cards to form a numeral that is the highest number. (The highest number with 5, 1, and 7 is 751.) Ask students, “What place value is the 7? the 5? the 1?” Discuss with students how place value helps to locate where numbers are in a line.

4. Have students tell another number one could make with these three cards that is in the middle range. (The possible answers are 571 and 517.) Discuss the difference it makes when the position of the 1 and 7 is changed.

5. Draw three more cards off the top of each pile. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4, letting students determine the lowest, middle, and highest numbers one could make with these three digits.

6. Call on students to draw the cards and arrange them into one number of their choice. Have students tell the place value of the numbers and determine whether it is the highest, middle, or lowest number.

7. Students use the concept of highest, middle, and lowest number to determine where numbers are located on a number line by putting them in order from the lowest to the highest. Have two students stand facing the class. The student on the left holds up the number 100 and the student on the right holds up 1000. Explain that if the number is a low number, it is near the beginning, which is 100. If it is a middle number, it is located in the middle of the line. If the number is high, it is closer to the end of the line near 1,000. (The cards may need to be reshuffled during the lesson.)

8. Call on students to take turns picking cards to arrange and then writing the number on an index card with a marker. The student holds the number up for the class to see. The student decides where the number is located on the number line and stands in that place.

9. Have students explain how they decided where the number would be located. (Explanations should include place value of the numbers and which number helped them decide placement on the number line. For example, if two numbers have a 3 in the hundreds place, they would have to know to look at the tens place.)

10. Students remain in the line as other students are called on to take part in creating this human line of numbers.

11. Continue until students clearly explain their understanding of how to locate the placement of numbers on the number line. Then have students return to their seats.

12. Pass out a half sheet of paper to each student. Have students write their names on the paper and draw a horizontal line across the paper. Label the line 100 on one end and 1,000 on the other end. Write 5 three-digit numbers on the chalkboard. Have students put a dot on the line where each number is located and write the number under the dot. Next, have them circle the number that helped them decide where to locate the number. Then, have them write the place value word (hundreds, tens, or ones) under each circled number.


Teacher observation is used to assess students working together to construct a hands-on number line of kids with students sharing ideas on how to determine the location of numbers on this number line. The teacher observes students using manipulatives to develop numbers and solve the problem of locating the numbers on the number line while explaining how they determined where the numbers belonged.

Upon completion of the activity, students locate 5 three-digit numbers on a number line drawn on their paper. They circle digits that helped them determine the location on the number line and write the place value word for the circled number under each circle.
CRITERIA: The teacher observes the possible placement of the five numbers on the line to ensure proper understanding of the objective in locating and explaining numbers on a number line. Students write place value words for designated numbers correctly on their paper.


1. Students need to have background knowledge of place value through the hundreds place and knowledge about number lines.
2. As follow-up to the lesson for additional practice, a file folder activity could be made and placed in a center. Just get a file folder and attach three pockets to the inside. Put a set of cards 1-9 from the lesson in each pocket. Write directions for a partner activity and attach on the inside. Have students take turns in guessing if the number they arranged is the highest, middle, or lowest. If he claims correctly, he gets a point. Ten points declares a winner. Then have them arrange four numbers and locate them on a number line drawn on paper.
3. Use the site listed under Weblinks as a review for students before the lesson or as enrichment after the lesson on place value.

Web Links

A Student Web Lesson introducing place value
My Place

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