Friday, November 8, 2019

The value of learning about number lines

In a 2016 study, researchers from the School of Psychology at Queen’s University in Belfast, found a connection between learning placement in a number line and proficiency in math in later years.  They found that the effect of number performance skills was dictated by ordering skills.  They recommended that any ordering practice, such as learning the months of the year, days of the week, and number line practice would help young students to become more proficient in math as they got older. The researchers also found that spatial representation of item order also relates to ordering and comparison skills. (Source:

So what does this mean for you and your students?  Since the number line develops learning by giving students another look at number relationships, here are some ideas:

  1. Place a number line on their desks (a ruler will do!)
  2. Post a number line above the whiteboard or chalkboard.
  3. Hopscotch is a fun form of the number line – encourage them to play that outside.
  4. Teach sequencing frequently using shapes, numbers, colored cubes, and other aids.
  5. Use a blank number line (division lines but no numbers) and ask students to develop their own number line that doesn’t need to begin with 1.
  6. Ask students to find number lines outside of the classroom (They may need help recognizing other forms of number lines – like plants in a garden row). 
  7. Remind them that number lines don’t always need to be horizontal.  A growth chart is a good example of a vertical number line.

Now sift through the Teachers Pay Teachers resources for the use of number lines.  But if you don’t want to use worksheets and packets, go to my resource, Ducklings in a Row – a fun PowerPoint were the ducklings must insert themselves between other numbered ducklings to form a complete line from 1 to 10.  Also included is a Teacher’s Guide to help with identifying the unique personality traits of each duckling.  

Enjoy your number lines throughout the year!

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