I think the craft supply that we have had the most of over the years is craft sticks (popsicle sticks). We buy them in boxes of 1250 and use them for so many different crafts and projects! Today, I’ve got some expanded form puzzles that we made with popsicle sticks. A really fun way to practice a skill that can sometimes be boring.

– Life Over C's Create some expanded form puzzles with popsicle sticks for a fun way to practice place value!

Recommended Grade Level:

Materials for the Expanded Form Puzzles

  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Washi Tape
  • Sharpie

I also love washi tape. We didn’t have it overseas and we’re having so much fun playing with it now! It works perfectly for these puzzles too.

Materials needed for the Expanded Form Puzzles:

Popsicle sticks (3 for each puzzle to review up to the hundreds’ place.)

Washi tape in multiple colors (you need a different color/pattern for each puzzle)

Permanent marker

Scissors (optional, only needed if your tape is wider than the sticks)

I had 13 kinds of washi tape in the set that I used, so I made 13 puzzles. There really is no magic number, but I wouldn’t make more than 15 per set or it might overwhelm the students to match up all the pieces.

– Life Over C's Create some expanded form puzzles with popsicle sticks for a fun way to practice place value!

How to create the puzzles:

In sets of three, cover each popsicle stick with washi tape on one side. Trim the sides of the tape if needed. You should have 3 popsicle sticks for each patterns/colors. 

Use the permanent marker to write the numbers on each popsicle stick set as follows:

Stick 1: the ones place and an addition sign, such as 2+

Stick 2: the tens place and an addition sign, such as 30+

Stick 3: the hundreds place and an equals sign, such as 400=

Repeat for each additional set of 3 popsicle sticks.

– Life Over C's Create some expanded form puzzles with popsicle sticks for a fun way to practice place value!

How to use the Expanded Form Puzzles:

Lay all of the sticks out on the table.

Find the sticks with matching patterns/colors.

Put the sticks in place value order. The example above would be:

  2+

 30+

400=

Have the students say the answers to the problems out loud and/or have them write the answers in a notebook. If you are not able to visually see their puzzles and answers, you may want to label the puzzles with an identifying letter to record in a notebook.

A great way to practice expanded form without a bunch of worksheets!

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– Life Over C's Create some expanded form puzzles with popsicle sticks for a fun way to practice place value!

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Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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