| |

Rethinking the Hundred Chart

If you are reading this post, you have probably used a hundred chart or a 120 chart in your classroom. The patterns within the chart help students develop important place value relationships and promote early understandings of multi-digit addition and subtraction. Over the years, I’ve seen discussions on Twitter about the chart starting with one instead of zero, and I recently saw one that included a row of negative numbers at the top. But last week I wandered across an article written by Graham Fletcher and Jennifer Bay-Williams about flipping the chart, in other words, a bottom-up chart. Apparently, the reasoning behind starting with one in the upper left-hand corner and building down to larger numbers is that we read from top to bottom and left to right. There is some thought that this top-to-bottom relationship confuses children when they are using the chart to add and subtract. Think about it. If you have an empty glass and you begin to fill it, the water line goes up. As we age, we grow taller from the ground up. Conversely, if you have a full box of cereal and eat some, the cereal in the box goes down.

This post contains affiliate links, which simply means that when you use my link and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, and I only link to books and products that I personally recommend.

Personally, I like the idea of giving students different charts and having them discuss the merits of each. Then, let students use the chart that feels right to them. To that end, I’ve prepared a little freebie with four different charts: two bottom-up, one top-down, and one blank. You’ll also find some flipped hundred chart puzzles.

You can download the freebie here. If you use it in your classroom, please drop a comment below or, better yet, take some pictures and tag me in a tweet!

Similar Posts


  1. I moved from K to 2nd this year, so the group of second graders I had this year I also taught two years ago in K. In both my rooms, I had hundreds chart, which we used profusely. I saw something about flipping the hundreds chart also, so I did it with the large manipulative one I have. The kids looked at it and made also sorts of observations, like we had never even discussed a hundreds chart. It just seemed to make sense to them, my problem came up with all the tools to use with it that are made for a traditional chart. I have to hand make those crosses with the 10 more and less, because it is backwards depending on which chart we use. And often in the text or with printable sit doesn’t align.

  2. I love it! I’ve used a 0-99 chart for years with my students to help reinforce place value and the logic of 0-9 digits are what our math system is based upon. that is also why I use double nine dominoes as well. A 0-99 chart made regrouping to 100 and its numbers above a next step. While I had a 0-99 chart, my first grade teacher made one to 120.
    We have done comparisons to my chart and the classroom charts since that is a higher level thinking skill and to see them draw conclusions and see patterns is what math is all about.
    Can’t wait to use the flipped chart with my summer students and see what conclusions they draw.

  3. I like that the students are the center of the conversation. Now… are the teachers ready for new perspectives?

  4. YES!! I’ve been using the hundreds chart this way for the past year+. I really love it — and the students are able to have much more clear math conversations around number value because of this layout!! Thank you for sharing it out!

  5. I too have been intrigued with the bottom up chart as it makes more sense to more. I had my students work with a bottom up pocket chart version this year. We had cards that showed the number in various ways (pictorial, word, add/sub fact) and we’re constantly rebuilding it. Many of my students used it more than our traditional 120 chart. I’m excited to have these for seat use. Thanks for sharing!

  6. About 2 years ago I found a website that rotates the 100 chart 90°, 180°, and 270°. Then it shows a few random numbers. The student fills in the remaining squares of the rotated chart. This activity has a high level of rigor. It is an excellent tool for “If they already know the skill”. I did not bookmark the site and can not find it. I am hoping someone is able to send me the URL address.

  7. Thank you. I have been out of the class for a year and came here as my first pit stop on my math planning journey.

  8. May I please use this on my password-protected Google Classroom? I am remotely due to the pandemic. I love the bottom-up 120 chart and the puzzles. Thanks for considering.

  9. If you want to expand on the idea, you could have eight charts. You can begin in any of the four corners, and the numbers can run either horizontally or vertically. The eight charts look different, but they all show the same thing. The students can discover and explore symmetry, without even needing to introduce that word.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *