Number lines are a reliable method teachers have been using for ages to teach number sense, arithmetic, and all sorts of other math skills. This collection of number line activities works with littles and not-so littles, as they learn the concepts they need to be successful at math. Pick a few to try today!
1. Use sticky notes to line up numbers.
Write numbers on sticky notes and ask kids to place them in order on the number line. This simple idea is perfect for little ones first learning to sequence numbers. But number line activities are useful for older students too; try this same exercise with fractions, decimals, or negative numbers. (We love sticky notes in the classroom!)
Learn more: Busy Toddler
2. Build a life-size number line.
A life-size number line in your classroom allows you to do all sorts of active math games and practice. Kids will get even more out of number line activities when they become the numbers! (Pro tip: Carpet spots are fantastic for this project.)
Learn more: School Is a Happy Place
3. Line up your shoes.
Here’s one of those number line activities just made for your life-size line! Have the class count and line up their shoes, or workbooks, or crayons. The possibilities are endless.
Learn more: Days With Grey
4. Paint a dotted number line.
Kids use cotton swabs and paint to represent the value of each number on a line, helping them visualize what each number means. They can see how numbers grow in size from left to right.
Learn more: A Pinch of Kinder
5. Go vertical for number line activities.
Most number lines used in the classroom are horizontal, but vertical lines can help give kids better number sense. Since we associate “up” with “greater,” a vertical number line makes that concept easier to grasp.
Learn more: Mr. Elementary Math
6. Match dominoes to the numbers.
Kids count the dots on dominoes, or add the two numbers they see to get the sum, and place them by the corresponding number on the line. You could do this with subtraction, too.
Learn more: Busy Toddler
7. Build a number line with LEGO bricks.
Playing with LEGO bricks is learning? Who knew! We love this idea for practicing counting on using a LEGO minifig and dice.
Learn more: Gluesticks & Giggles/Instagram
8. Hop and drop along the line.
Here’s a number line activity that’s sure to get kids giggling. Challenge them to carry a ball along the line and drop it on a specific number—without using their hands! They can hold it between their knees, under their neck, or any way they choose. Their antics will make you laugh, but they’ll be learning all the while.
Learn more: Teach Me Mommy
9. Turn a zipper bag into a number line slider.
Well, how ingenious is this idea? Write a number line across the top of a zipper bag with a slider. Then insert a math fact to practice and slide along to find the answer. So fun!
Learn more: Hefty
10. Plant a number line garden.
Turn cupcake wrappers and craft sticks into numbered flowers, and “plant” them in a cardboard tube number line. (A pool noodle would also be fun for a number line garden.)
Learn more: 123Homeschool4Me
11. Use clothespins for number line activities.
Pick up a bag of clothespins at the dollar store (you know you’re shopping there for teacher supplies anyway) and write numbers on them with a Sharpie. Then create individual number line manipulatives from paint stirrer sticks. Simple and cheap!
Learn more: Fantastic Fun and Learning
12. Craft a number line bookmark.
Hit the link below for the free printable and print these bookmarks out on card stock. (Laminate if you like.) Then punch holes at the top and bottom, slide a bead onto a pipe cleaner, and attach it as shown. Kids now have a handy bookmark to help them with number line activities.
Learn more: Highland Heritage Homeschool
13. Tell the story of the “naughty numbers.”
If your students sometimes have trouble remembering which directions the written numerals should face (hello, backwards 3 that looks like capital E!), the story of the naughty numbers may help. Hit the link below to hear the tale and learn how it works.
Learn more: The First Grade Parade
14. Teach rounding with number lines.
Number line activities are handy for more advanced students, too. They’re ideal for learning about the concept of rounding numbers. Use a clever anchor chart like this one to show kids how it works.
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15. Send messages in secret code.
Assign each number on the line a letter (mix them up to make it more challenging). Then, craft your message using arithmetic problems for students to solve. Kids figure out the answers, find the corresponding letters, and spell out your message (which hopefully does not self-destruct!).
Learn more: Creative Family Fun
16. Drive along to learn fractions.
Understanding equivalent fractions can be a challenge, but number line activities can help. In this one, drive a toy car along the lines and use equivalent fractions to prove your answer. See how it works at the link below.
Learn more: Beyond Traditional Math
17. Use a number line to understand improper fractions.
Improper fractions can be a bit tricky, but number line activities make them easier to understand. Get this free printable cut-and-paste activity at the link below.
Learn more: Math Tech Connections
18. Put decimals on the line.
Fractions and decimals go hand in hand, and both are easier with number lines. Get free printable worksheets at the link below and learn how to use number lines with decimals.
Learn more: Math Geek Mama
Number lines are terrific for estimation, too. Find 18 estimation activities for your classroom here.
10 frames are another incredibly useful math tool. Here are some fantastic and fun 10 Frame Activities you’ll want to try next.