Closest To....

Primary/Junior (Age 6 – 12)

Curriculum Goal

Primary: Number Sense

  • Use place value when describing and representing multi-digit numbers in a variety of ways, including with base ten materials.

Junior: Number Sense

  • ​Read, represent, compare, and order decimal numbers up to hundredths, in various contexts.


  • Students and teacher will be sitting on the carpet in a circle or on a video conference chat online.​
  • Students should have previous experience with place value for both whole numbers (primary) and decimal numbers (junior).


In-person version

  • One standard 52-card deck with face cards and jokers removed
  • A sheet of paper with place values indicated (Appendix A)
Online version


  • Explain the place value while using the cards as a visual cue; ask students to name each place value position in the game (Appendix A) and then pull a card from the deck and ask students to say together what the number would represent in each place value (e.g., 1, 10, 100).
  • Explain the rules of the game (these can be adapted to skill level – see extensions).
  • Each player will be given three cards that they hold in their hand.
  • They need to re-arrange their cards and place them down on their turn to make the highest number.
  • Once everyone’s numbers are filled in front of them the game is over and the person with the highest number wins.

Look Fors

  • Do children accurately identify the numbers they made?​
  • What strategies do children use to play the game? Do they consider the probability of getting a desired card?
  • What misconceptions do the children have about place value in decimals and whole numbers?


Closest to….tens and ones (Early Years/Primary)

  • This is a simpler version of the game with only two spots.
  • As in Closest to…Hundreds Tens and Ones, cards are handed out to students.
  • Students pick up the cards and order them to make the highest card possible.

Closest to….adding (Primary/Junior)

  • Students are given three games to get the highest number.
  • They have five rounds per game – each round they are handed one card and need to decide to lay it down or discard it. They can discard two cards per game.
  • Once a card is laid in a place value spot, it cannot be changed.
  • After each game children add up their total and determine how much they need to get in the next round to beat their next closest player.
  • These games can be adapted to have the lowest number or a specific number (e.g., 500) as the goal.

The layout of the game can include decimals to extend learning.

An image of the playing board on for the OPM game Closest To

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