Below (and here) is an interactive odometer built with Web Sketchpad. Press each of the ‘+’ keys and observe their effect on the odometer’s value. Also notice how your button presses are tracked in the table below the odometer.

I built this model as a way to support students’ development of place-value concepts. Here are two ideas for how you might use it:

Pick a target number and ask students to name different combinations of button presses that will land the odometer at the target. To reach 100, for example, we might combine 9 tens with 10 ones or 7 tens with 30 ones. For larger targets like 1,000, there are lots of possible answers.

Press ‘Hide Odometer.’ Then, press the various ‘+’ buttons multiple times. Ask students to determine the hidden value of the odometer based on the information in the table. For example, 3 hundreds, 5 tens, and 2 ones is 352. A more challenging problem is to convert 12 hundreds, 15 tens, and 18 ones to 1,368. Students love creating these puzzles for each other because it’s fun to press the buttons, and the more they press, the harder the problem!

In my next post, I’ll share another odometer that has ‘–’ as well as ‘+’ buttons. The inclusion of ‘–’ buttons leads to some very interesting problems.

An annotated list of all our elementary-themed blog posts ishere.

2 thoughts on “Exploring Place Value With an Interactive Odometer”

Thanks for building this. I was kinda hoping that it would act more like an analog one. There is something about the way the dials push up when it moves from 9 – 10 that is compelling. You might want to consider allowing it to go down too.

The odometer does act like an analog odometer as long as you keep counting by ones. What is really cool is that when the odometer moves from 9 – 10 the place value chart shows its equivalent as 0 tens and 10 ones. So powerful for nonstandard partitioning!

Thanks for building this. I was kinda hoping that it would act more like an analog one. There is something about the way the dials push up when it moves from 9 – 10 that is compelling. You might want to consider allowing it to go down too.

Thanks again !

The odometer does act like an analog odometer as long as you keep counting by ones.

What is really cool is that when the odometer moves from 9 – 10 the place value chart shows its equivalent as 0 tens and 10 ones. So powerful for nonstandard partitioning!

Peggy Headings