What is a Number Line?
Number lines are usually introduced to children in kindergarten and are continued through elementary and middle school to build maths skills like counting, adding and subtracting numbers. To put it in very simple words, it’s a visual representation of numbers on a horizontal line. In maths, a number line refers to a straight horizontal line with numbers placed along it at an equal distance from each other. When they have a specified starting and ending point they are called closed number lines. Sometimes they may also be blank or empty. When the same is done on a vertical line it is referred to as a number ladder.
A number line is an effective visual aid for teaching Maths. It’s helpful for both parents and teachers while they are teaching children how to count and write numbers. It’s also effective in helping children understand the concept of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing numbers. And later it’s a way to show children how fractions make up a whole. Blank number lines can be used along with word problems to aid students in solving them.
Rules to Remember
- Numbers are always in a sequential order. They increase when moving from left to right and decrease when moving from right to left.
- The numbers are spaced evenly on the line to retain the same value between the intervals.
- Positive and negative numbers, decimals and fractions can all be included in a number line.
- To add, move to the left and to subtract, move to the right.
- To multiply, skip-count in groups to the left and to divide, skip-count in groups to the right.
A number line is like a ruler with its evenly spaced numbers and is very clear to read. It helps children visualise and compare the relationship between the numbers and develop number sense. It’s an extremely versatile tool for Maths that can be used both at home and in the classroom.
Number Lines in Kindergarten
In kindergarten, number lines help teach children how to count to 100, write numbers to 20 and compare numbers.
As the numbers are in sequential order, it serves as a reference when kindergarteners are learning to count. A number line of either 1 to 10 or 1 to 20 should be used to start with and as they become kindergarteners become more adept with counting, they can move to lines with gaps and blank number lines. This not only helps to test their understanding of counting in sequence, it’s also a good way to practise writing numbers and honing fine motor skills.
After they are comfortable with these tasks, kindergarteners can work on identifying whether a number is less than, more than or equal to another number. A fully plotted number line can be used for such assignments as children use it to determine one number’s relationship with another.
Number lines are not necessarily restricted to paper, even a rope strung in the classroom with numbered flags or cards clipped on them can represent a number line.
A number of activities, resources, and support material can be found online which are a source of high-quality games, worksheets and activities that meet their learning requirements.
You can also find several different themed number lines like a train-themed number number lines which kids can use to learn about number sequences.
Why Number Lines are Useful for Lessons
Children find it simpler to compare and look at the relationship between numbers when they see them on a number line. It’s an effective visual aid for kindergarteners allowing them to see the relationship between different numbers on a representative scale. A number line can be viewed as a graph except that there are no axis apart from the linear scale. Numbers are written relative to their numerical value and are plotted accordingly. This is what makes it so useful when a kid is learning counting.
In the early stages of learning, children are taught to count with numbers from 1 to 20 on a number line, place them in correct order and say which number is more or less than a given number. This is followed up by using quantities and objects to learn to add and subtract two single digit numbers by counting forward or backward to find the answer on the number line.
Games to Teach the Number Line
A number of activities, resources, and support material can be found online which are a source of high-quality games, worksheets and activities that meet their learning requirements. You can also find several different themed number lines like a train-themed number number lines which kids can use to learn about number sequences. There’s no better way to teach children than through games and the same goes for number lines.
- Human Number Line
- Addition Number Line Game
- Line up Numbers with Sticky Notes
- Line Up Some Objects
- Draw a Number Line on the Road:
- Build a Number Line:
Make a long line on the floor using masking tape. Mark it at equal intervals on the line. Next, write the numbers from 1 to 20 on chart paper. There should be as many cards as the number of children. Finally, ask the children to pick a number and stand on the number line in sequential order.
This is a great number line game for kindergarteners. It can be made more challenging for older children by including addition and subtraction problems on the cards.
Use masking tape to make a number line on the floor. Write addition sums on paper. Ask the child to solve the problem by jumping to reach the right answer. For example, if the problem is 4+3. The child will start at number 4 on the number line and jump forward thrice till they reach 7.
Write the numbers on separate sticky notes and ask the kids to place them in the correct order on the number line.
Line up some objects like books, building blocks, paints etc. on the number line. For example, 1 building block for 1, 2 building blocks for 2 and so on.
Draw a number line on the road with chalk. Make kids stand or jump on the number line and recite the number loudly. This teaches them the order of numbers and they retain it for much longer.
You can take building blocks and mark them with numbers.. Ask the children to number the blocks in sequential order. This helps kids to learn critical thinking and learn how to make number lines.
A number line has been used by teachers for the longest time ever to teach kindergarteners a sense of numbers. It can be used to solve simple arithmetic sums and other Maths skills. But this is not easy and it’s best to teach them through number line games and activities. For more activities, games and worksheets that make learning fun , do touch base with the EuroKids website.