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Double number lines for fact families

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.

Number lines are such an incredibly powerful tool, and I think sometimes they get underutilized.

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Sure, many (I hope ALL!) teachers have number lines hanging in their classrooms, but they can be used for so much more than just sequencing numbers from 1 to 100.

My favorite books for using a strategy-based approach for teaching math facts are a pair of books by Sue O’Connell and John SanGiovani. The addition and subtraction book (there is also one for multiplication and division) showed how number lines can be used to help build a foundational understanding of fact families. The example below shows that 2 + 3 and 3 + 2 both equal 5.

I created a cuter version of this activity for my print and digital fact families workstation resource.

Number lines are also getting a lot of attention lately as a tool for teaching elapsed time. You basically take the times off the clock and stretch them out on a number line. One advantage is that students can see the patterns on a clock much easier in a linear fashion. It’s easier to see that when you move ahead one hour, only the hour and not the minutes change. It’s also much easier to count forward or backward elapsed times greater than an hour on a number line than a clock.

I threw a number line into my This Little Piggy: Telling Time to the Half Hour and Hour resource. Students have to decide if the number line is counting by half hours or hours and fill in the missing times. I hope you’ll check it out!

3 Comments

  1. Ms. T

    I have awarded your blog with the Lovely Blog Award! Stop by my blog to see the details! 🙂

    Second Grade Math Maniac

    Reply
  2. Jeff Ward

    Hi Donna!

    (I have friends from Katy, small world!)

    I totally agree, number line is super awesome and not used enough! We have an app, wootmath.com (iPad or web) for solidifying rational number sense (largely fractions, but expanding into decimals, ratios and percents.) I hope you’ll check out and recommend us to your teachers teaching fractions topics!

    You can peruse our number line tasks here: https://goo.gl/b2qJK6

    Best!
    Jeff Ward
    Woot Math

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Jeff, I briefly looked at your website, and it’s looks pretty nifty!

      It is a small world, but our little corner of it in Katy is getting BIG!

      Reply

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