Friday, October 21, 2016

Free Number Line Activities Your Students Will Love

I have a confession, number lines are not my favorite tools for adding and subtracting with my young learners.  I always teach how to use them, but I don't spend very much time on them.  My main issue is that, students will not always have access to a number line.  I don't want them dependent on a tool that they may or may not be able to get their hands on.
However, after doing a bit of research about some of the additional benefits of number line learning, I started to rethink my feelings about them.  Besides solving basic addition and subtraction equations, familiarity with number lines helps students as they work with all sorts of other math tools.  Graphs, thermometers, clocks, and rulers all include number lines.  
Not only can our work counting forward and backward on a number line help us to add and subtract, it can also lay the group work for upcoming mathematical concepts.

Since I had a change of heart about the importance of number lines, I decided to devote more time to them this year.  Here are a couple of quick activities I used with my students that they really enjoyed.
First up is our Life-Size Number Line.  I used this big number line for a whole group activity, but you can easily adapt it for a small group or center activity.
I created it by printing the numbers 1-20 and laminating them.  I made my line with some masking tape and then placed the numbers on top.  The line wasn't straight and the numbers were't perfectly spaced, but that didn't matter at all.
I made several slides for our interactive white board with basic addition and subtraction equations.  (A regular white board will work just as well.) 

Students came to the number line individually.  They read the equation to the class and then they solved it on the number line.  They loved it so much that I used it with them the next day to solve word problems.  (one prep and two activities #forthewin)
Not only did the kids love it, I really liked using the Life-Size Number Line because it was an easy way to make sure students understood how to correctly move the number line.

If you would like to use this activity with your students, click on the picture below for a free copy of the Life-Size Number Line .

Another number line activity I incorporated was a quick and easy number line game.  (I'm always looking for ways to use my Target Dollar Spot erasers and this activity was perfect.)  All you need are some kind of game pieces, a number line, and a spinner (if you don't have a spinner, just use a paper clip and a pencil).  This game works well with two to three players.

To play, students take turns spinning.  If a student lands on plus five, he moves his game piece forward five spaces.  If he spins minus two, he moves his piece back two spaces.  The game continues until the first player reaches the end of the number line.
This activity was wonderful practice for students counting on and counting back.  Since we've covered addition and are nearing the end of our subtraction unit, the Number Line Spinner game gave students a chance to begin mixing their facts.

I plan on adding this game to our Early Finishers menu since the rules are so simple and there are so few pieces.  
If you'd like a FREE copy of this my Number Line Spinner game, click on the picture below.

There you have it, two simple ways to add a little more variety to your number line routine.
Thank you so much for stopping by.
Happy teaching!


  1. Wow, these games look like a fun way to gain number sense and a good understanding of the number line. I, like you, have kind of glossed over that strategy of adding and subtracting. Thanks for offering these fun games. I will definitely use them. I appreciate your generosity!!!

    1. It makes me feel a little better to know I'm not the only one. ;)
      Thank you for stopping by.

    2. Thank you for generosity of sharing these great ideas!!

  2. Love the life size number line! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing these. I can't to use them! If you don't mind me asking, where did you get your book bins? I think they would work really well in my classroom too.

    1. You are welcome.
      The book bins are from Really Good Stuff for Teachers. If you look back a couple of posts, I have some more details about my class library, including free leveled library labels that fit these bins.
      Thank for stopping by.

  4. Hi there,
    I just found this blog post this morning. I know it is from last year but I think my students will really benefit from using these number line games. Can I still get access to the free number line and game spinner? Thanks for your help,

    1. Hi.
      I've checked the links. They are working on my end.
      Not really sure why there're not working for visitors.
      Really sorry. :(

  5. These would be so great to use in my class but the links aren't working for me either :(

  6. Hi,
    The links are not working for me either. Would you be able to email them to me? I'd love to use them.

  7. Thank you. My students will love these

  8. Thank you for sharing. How did you print each number a different color? I noticed there are 2 numbers per page. Thanks