Math Ideas



Teaching Number Lines in FDK

Here is a short recap on the number line unit we recently explored with the kids.

Our expectation for number lines in Kindergarten is:

NS 1.1 investigate, using a number line, the idea that quantity is greater when counting forward and less when counting backwards

We also administer the PRIME Number Sense Diagnostic so we teach the number line concepts covered on that "test" as well.

Day 1: Introduction of Number Lines

On the first day we introduce what a number line looks like and define it as "a math tool that helps us count, add and subtract numbers".

Then I drew a large number line to 10 on chart paper.

Next I had the kids take turns turning over a number card (I put number cards face down in the middle of the carpet), saying the number and then putting a red sticker dot on the corresponding number on the number line.

*A kind reader pointed out to me that I have a mistake on my anchor chart.. oops!! It should read "Numbers on a number line get BIGGER when you go right and smaller when you go left."

Day 2: Co-creating a Number Line

I threw up this SMARTBoard file

and told the kids we would be co-creating a number line.
First I had the kids place the number 5 on the number line because I wanted to see if they would put it near the middle.  Then we placed 2, 6, 4, 9, 7, 3 and then 8.

After each number was placed I had the kids say why they put the number there.  There was some great math talk happening as they explained their reasoning!

Day 3: Missing Numbers on a Number Line #1

On the third day we practiced filling in missing numbers on a number line and justifying our answer (e.g. "I know the missing number is 2 because the missing number is after 1 but before 3 and I know the number in-between 1 and 3 is 2.")

I put this slide up on the SMARTBoard and we filled in the missing numbers as we justified our answers.

Day 4: Missing Numbers on a Number Line #2

On the fourth day we started to practice placing numbers on a number line that didn't have all the numbers and hash marks.  We used this slide below on our SMARTBoard to practice.

Day 5: Missing Numbers on a Number Line #3

This lesson was based on the PRIME Number Sense number line question.

I put up this SMARTBoard file,

 and had the students tell where each number should go on the number line.

We focused on our oral language again and practiced using the sentence
"I know ___ goes here because _________."

Day 6: Moving Forwards & Backwards on a Number Line

I put up this number line slide on the SMARTBoard,

and I taught them that when you go right on the number line the numbers get bigger and when you go left on the number line the numbers get smaller.

To show this we added dots under the number line to show how the quantity changes.  The dot in the box in the top left corner is an infinite cloner so you can keep adding dots without making a new dot each time :)

During centres the kids used q-tips and paint to show the value of each number on the number line like our lesson.

The kids loved this!

Day 7: One More, One Less

On the seventh day we used this life size number line

and a large die to play "Race to 10".

I picked the special helper to demonstrate with me.  We took turns rolling the die (which had 1 more on five sides or 1 less on one side) and moved on the number line according to the prompt.  We kept rolling until 1 person got to 10.

Then I set out a mini version for the kids to try at centre time.

Day 8: Two More, Two Less

On the eighth day we did the same activity as above but with the prompts 2 more and 2 less instead.

Day 9: One More, One Less, Two More, Two Less

On the ninth day we reviewed the prompts by putting all four prompts in the die and playing the game one last time.

Day 10: Roll, Find, Roll, Move

On the last day we used 2 insertable die's, 1 with the prompts one more, one less etc. and one with the numbers 3-8.  I had the students roll the number die first and then find and stand on the number they landed on (on the life size number line you see above).  Then I had a seconds student roll the prompt die, read the prompt and move the first student the correct number and direction.  We repeated this until time ran out.

All of the printables and SMARTBoard files you see above are in my "Number Line Activities for Kindergarten" pack on TPT.  You can click here or on the image below to check it out.

Do you have any fun ways you teach number lines in Kindergarten?

Let me know in a comment below!


  1. Such great ideas! I really love the q tip dot to show quantities on a number line! Such a great idea!! :)


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