Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hands On Number Lines

Last summer I found this post from Sarah about her printable number lines for her classroom. I fell in love and obviously printed them first thing when we started back to school this year. I have found them super resourceful when trying to explain adding and subtracting integers. Unfortunately many of my high school students still struggle with this along with multiplying and dividing integers. 

Now fast forward to a few days ago when I was passing time scanning Pinterest for new ideas during commericals of one of my new favorite shows Famous in Love when I found this cool idea that sparked an even bigger idea. 

I started thinking well I've been wanting to make individual number lines for each student desk but maybe a more hands on approach that could also be used to physically represent multiplication or division would be even better. 

So I remember the random wooden blocks that I inherited from a previous teacher that had changed schools and I thought maybe I could make them into numbered beads that could create a number line for students to use in class. 

So far one down and seven more to go. Hopefully I'll buy some more blocks and make more so I can do pairs instead of groups of 3-4. I was really hoping they would have been smaller so they worked well on top of the desks but I did -30 to +30 so that was too many blocks to lay out across a desk.

Here are some examples of how I'll be using them:




This is how I want to implement them into my class next year. 

I want to use the first couple of weeks as days to include number talks to help build a deeper knowledge of mental math. During those days I plan to break out the number lines and do some mental math with addition, subtract, multiplication, and division. I really hope that they will then understand how useful the numberline can be in doing basic calculations. I'll try to keep calculator use to a very minimum and used only for major tasks like graphing and exploring functions. 

After the first coupe of weeks I'll have some sort of laminated card thing for their desk tops I think. Haven't created that yet but it's in the works. Check back for that post later. 

To introduce the number lines I'll probably first do a few simple examples on the board of addition and subtraction using a number line and then give them a few examples to model using their number lines. Then we can repeat those same steps with multiplication and division. 

If you would also like to make these handy dandy number lines yourself here are some resources I have found on amazon that can help you begin your process. 

Wooden Blocks
(I used 3/4in block - large but easy to write my numbers on)

String Stuff
(For now I have just basic yarn but it is picking really bad so I think I want 
to try some of the elastic jewelry cording next time)

Drill Bit for Small Holes
(I did not do this - so very thankful for an awesome AG teacher at my school who made my first set and next couple sets might be done by my dad unless he teaches me to use it)

If I did my calculations right use a 1/16" drill bit because I think that is a little bigger than 2mm since the string stuff above I gave you are all 2mm. Hopefully I can update this part soon.


  1. Hi Christie, I've just found you via Twitter and I'm so excited to explore your blog! I'm a high school teacher from Australia (our high schools run from grades 7-12) and I'm always looking for hands on ideas. A lot of my students struggle with working with negatives so this post is just fabulous. Thank you for sharing!

    1. You're so welcome!! I have lots of stuff to add in the next few weeks so check back again soon. We have about 2 weeks left of school then I will have plenty of extra time to blog. Hands on ideas and real life math is what I'm motivated to work on for next year so hopefully I'll have some interesting ideas to blog about soon for you.