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Hundred Chart Boot Camp


Mathematics is all about patterns. Some describe mathematics as the science of patterns, and the ability to understand patterns is described as a key concept in NCTM‘s algebra standard.

I didn’t like math growing up. Now, it fascinates me almost to the point of obsession, and I attribute that to two things: (1) I now understand the math behind the procedures I was taught, and (2) I see the patterns that were never pointed out to me before.

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Since I love patterns, it should be no surprise that I am a big fan of hundred charts. The classic +1, -1, +10, and -10 pattern of a hundred chart is fundamental to a conceptual understanding of place value. So you can imagine my delight a couple of weeks ago when I saw that the remediation program my district uses had a hundred chart lesson for my 2nd graders. A lesson. As in one. That might have been fine, but I quickly found out that my second graders did not see any of the patterns in the hundred chart that I hold so near and dear.

Enter Hundred Chart Bootcamp! We have spent two weeks exploring the hundred chart inside and out. Some of the students picked up the patterns right away, but others just couldn’t see them. It was fascinating to me. Here are some things I tried.

Humpty Dumpty Hundred Charts

This activity involves students putting together the pieces of a cut-up hundreds chart, like a puzzle, to make the complete chart. This is a great formative assessment! Watch as the students put it together. Do they know that the smaller numbers are at the top of the puzzle and the larger ones at the bottom? Do they look for the multiples of ten for the right-hand side of the puzzle? How easy or difficult is this task for them? You can read more and download your own free Humpty Dumpty charts from this blog post.

Missing Numbers on a Pocket Hundred Chart

A pocket hundred chart is a must-have tool. You can use it to isolate the numbers in a given row or column, which makes the patterns easier for students to see. They now actually sell the pocket charts that extend to 120, so students can see that the patterns go on past 100.

Hundred Chart Masks

This activity came from the book It Makes Sense: Using the Hundreds Chart to Build Number Sense, by Melissa Conklin and Stephanie Sheffield. These masks are groups of squares, which contain question marks, that are cut from a hundred chart. Students lay them over the hundred chart and try to determine the numbers that are covered. Because the rest of the numbers on the chart are visible, students can be successful with this activity, even if they are not yet sure of the hundred chart patterns. I created a recording sheet for the students to record their numbers, so they could then see the groups of numbers away from the rest of the hundred chart. I think that helps them to recognize the patterns more easily.  You can download the recording sheet a little further down in this post.

Hundred Chart Puzzles

Once students understand the patterns on the hundred chart, they are able to work on puzzles such as the ones shown. This set, from my  Hundred Charts and Hundred Chart Puzzles to 1000: Print and Digital unit, takes the patterns all the way up to 1000. I have the cards laminated, and students use wipe-off markers to complete them. I still have some students that do not 100% own the patterns, so I created a card they can use as a reminder.

Click here to download the patterns card (shown above) and the recording sheets for the mask activity.  Enjoy!

Note: Do you love the floor-sized hundred chart pictured above? Grab it here!

Update: be sure to check out this post for an easy hundred chart assessment.

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  1. I love your resources, I really do! Can I ask you your thoughts about hundred charts starting at 1 as opposed to 0?

    1. They make a lot of sense to me, actually, because the tens place is the same for the entire row, instead of being, say 20s until the last square which is 30. I think, however, that the traditional hundred chart is deeply entrenched in our educational culture.

    2. I have been using a 0-100 chart for a few years now and really prefer it to the 1-100. It is visually much easier for students to see each decade. It makes more sense to put the 0 column first, since we can count starting from 0. It helps students remember the names for each decade (lots of my students have trouble with 30 and 40). I made a 0-100 chart with a different color for each digit in the tens place (i.e. the teen numbers all started with a red 1, twenties all started with a blue 2, etc) I left 2 blank rows at the bottom for kids to fill in the numbers from 100-129. My lowest student was able to see the patterns clearly and was able to extend the pattern in each column! If you would like a copy of this google doc, let me know where to send it!

      I agree that the traditional hundred chart is so widely used that it is hard to make a change. I wonder if kids tried this: cut a 0-99 chart into strips, tape the strips together to make a long number line, and then recut to make a 1-100 chart. Would it help to solidify the concept??

  2. I, too, love the patterns. Sometimes the students I work with don’t see the patterns, either. Anything to help them see the patterns and then get the relationships will be great. Thanks!

  3. Thank you! I love reading your blog and using your resources with my 1st and 6th graders. Thank you for all that you share.

  4. Great ideas! I think we’ll celebrate the 120th day of first grade this year and spend that whole week on deepening understanding of the 120 chart and numbers beyond Thanks!!

  5. Thanks, Donna! I love all these ideas. I am wondering, as a professor of pre-service elementary teachers, what would you consider to be most important to share with my potential teachers as they teach using the hundreds chart?

    1. Margie, I think it’s important for teachers to understand that children can see and describe patterns on the hundred chart before they understand the math behind those patterns. For example, they can see that as they move down a column the number “on the end” stays the same and the “other number” goes up by one long before they understand that the pattern results from adding 10 to each number. This is similar to the fact that students can count to 100 long before they really understand what 100 is. Let students enjoy the patterns and don’t rush the understanding behind them!

  6. Donna, I really love your posts and the resources you share. Your resources have helped me by making it easier and or by giving me some great ideas on how I can help my special education students learn and or understand some difficult math concepts.
    I was wondering where you got the large120 chart and blowup dice? I think my students might really benefit from a large size chart to use on the floor.

    1. I’m so glad you find my blog useful, Kristina! I bought the floor chart on Amazon. If you click on the picture, it will actually take you right to it.

  7. I am so pleased to find your site! My sweet daughter is 7 and struggling to grasp the concept of 1-100. (so….also struggles with skip counting, money, and time) We did some testing to find that she has a significant visual-spatial perception difficulty. We have seen the developmental optometrist and will start vision therapy next week. That all being said…have you dealt much with this particular learning challenge? Are there any of your approaches you would find particularly helpful for this? I would appreciate any direction, wisdom or experience you have here. Thanks much!

  8. I love your ideas! Where did you get the giant floor hundreds chart pictured above? Great visual for small group instruction.


    1. That giant hundred chart is great, isn’t it? Click on the picture for a link to buy it on Amazon. 🙂

  9. I struggled with math as a kid, failed geometry in high school and joined the Naval Reserves and went to basic between my junior and senior year because I wanted to get out of the house and was going active duty after I graduated ( I met my husband a month later and that changed!) all because I thought I could not “do” math. I graduated college at 35 with an elementary reading speciality and now teach math science in 3-5(currently 3rd grade). I love the patterns and am obsessed with teaching it! Someday I hope to be a math coach! I love your resources and am using these to help a few of my third graders that don’t see the pattern! Thanks!!

    1. Thank you for sharing your journey, Terri. I’m sure many people really connect with what you felt and went through!

  10. I was talking to an accountant the other day and he envisioned that the numbers in the chart would be listed vertically instead of horizontally. In other words, instead of the first row being 1-10, the 1-10 would be listed from top to bottom in the first column. He said that accountants work in columns instead of rows. I am very intrigued by the idea of putting the numbers in the chart in various orientations. What do you think?

    1. I think maybe because we read left to right the traditional format makes more sense for students. Also, if you cut the rows apart, you can make the numbers into a number line. I’ve never seen it vertical, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done that way!

      1. Reinforcing left to right for reading purposes is extremely important when working with students who are still working on reading. Often directionality is an issue. I think you are right about left to right being done to keep directionality consistent.

  11. I like using a 0-99 chart, so all the numbers in the same 10s grouping are together. I find this really helps some students.

  12. hmm… I am doing a school assignment and The teacher says we have to write something that explains why a hundreds chart can help identify patterns… i dont even really know what it means, help

    1. I think a great place to start is to look for patterns you see and explain them. For example, as you move down a column, what do you notice about the numbers? You got this!

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