I spent some time is that good old 5th grade classroom again this week and I watched as the students noticed and wondered about the following scenario:

Each Friday Ms. Descartes’ class plays the Place Value Game. Each student has 3 cards. Each card has a random 5-digit number on it. Ms. Descartes pulls a number from 1-9 from a hat and the students find the value of her number on all of their cards. The student with the highest total score wins.

Here’s an example:

If a card contains the number 47229 and Ms. Descartes picks a 7, the card is worth 7000 points. If she picks a 2, it’s worth 220 points.

The students noticed all kinds of things, and those that they deemed (along with the teacher) as “about math” are listed below:


Each student has 3 cards
Is she picks a 7 it is worth 7000 points
Th card has the number 47,229
If she picks a 2 it is worth 220 points
Find the value of the number the teacher picks
Whatever place the teacher picks that is the value

How many 5 digit numbers on the card?
Why is the 2 worth 220?
Does it always have to be 5 digits?
What is the value of the 4?
What if she picks a different card like 8?
Who has the highest score?
What student wins?
What if Ms. Descartes picks the same card twice?

What do you notice about their notices/wonders? What math do you see happening? What are you left wondering?