DIY Numeral Track - Math Coach's Corner

DIY Numeral Track

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.

I had a PD session with my kindergarten teachers today, and we had a make and take, complete with designer duct tape!

This post contains affiliate links, which simply means that when you use my link and purchase a product, I receive a small commission. There is no additional cost to you, and I only link to books and products that I personally use and recommend.

What you see pictured below is called a numeral track and the idea comes from Teaching Number in the Classroom. It’s two pieces of poster board strips, duct-taped together to make sort of a folder, with flaps cut on one of the strips. Numbers written on a sentence strip are placed inside the folder, and the flaps are lifted to reveal the numbers underneath. I’m going to explain how to use it, and then step-by-step pictures for making one follow.

The numeral track is used to practice forward and backward counting sequences as well as number before and number after. It can also be used to practice skip-counting by writing numbers in a skip count pattern on the sentence strip instead of sequential numbers. It’s meant to be used in a small group setting, so you can use numbers appropriate for each of your kiddos’ individual needs.

As you start out with students, you have more of the flaps lifted to give the kids a running start, so to speak. So you might have 1, 2, 3, and 4 showing. Count the numbers together, and when you get to 4 ask what number comes after 4? Gradually, you want to get to the point where you can lift one flap, revealing a number, and the kiddos can automatically name the number that comes after. Use different number strips depending on student needs. One student might be working on 1 to 10, while another is ready for 11-20. The same process can be used to practiced counting backward and naming the number before.

The first picture shows every second flap lifted to help kiddos understand skip counting. The numbers on the strip are sequential in this case, and every other flap is lifted. Another way to practice skip counting is to write numbers in a skip counting pattern on the strip, for example, 10, 20, 30, etc. As explained above, start out with several of the flaps lifted, asking the child to count on.

So, are you ready to make one??

Cut a piece of 28″ x 22″ poster board into seven 4-inch by 22-inch strips. Trim one inch off each strip, so they are 21 inches long. Use duct tape to tape two pieces together. Festive duct tape makes the number tracks really engaging. Okay, I was teased just a bit for creating a little line guide for spacing out the flaps, but the Kinder teachers appreciated how easy it made the cutting. You see the cutting guide in pink below. I divided one of the strips up evenly with thick, dark lines. I then cut that strip into four skinny strips to use as cutting guides (see the second picture below).

Originally, I divided the 22″ track into 6 parts, which is what you see pictured, but later I revised my process to use 21″ strips divided into 7 sections. On the inside of the numeral track, use the line guides to make little dots along the top edge and bottom edge.

Now use the line guide as a straight edge to connect the dots, creating your cutting lines (see the picture below). See the nice neat cutting lines? Cut along the lines and, voila, you’ve got a numeral track.

If anything in the directions is unclear, just leave a comment and I’ll try to clear it up.

15 Comments

  1. joan

    Will make this. I am trying to find the blog with instructions for making math racks. Can you direct me of send the info. Love your blog!

    Reply
  2. GSG

    Are the sentence strips with numbers attached to the numeral track or are the separate so you can swap them out?

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Great question! Yes, they are separate so you can swap them out.

      Reply
      • Celeste Maugh

        I’m going to try to add a pocket at the bottom so I can easily slide numbers in and out.

        Reply
  3. Genie Adams

    How would this work for “decade” counting? On the strip, put numbers like 25, 35, 45…then reveal the numbers. Just another great idea from you that I love to share with my teachers!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Yes, Genie, that’s exactly how it would work! You could also practice patterning by lifting two flaps and leaving one in the middle down and let kiddos determine the pattern. For example, 25, ? (flap down), 45

      Reply
  4. Mrs. Bagley

    Donna,
    I really like this and can’t wait to make some this weekend! I think the toughest part is going to be deciding what type of Duct tape to use!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Yes, and of course your duct tape has to coordinate with your poster board! 🙂

      Reply
  5. mondaymathmessage

    If you have access to mat board, used for framing, you can make some deluxe numeral tracks. Sometimes framing businesses are willing to donate the mat board. The thickness of the mat board makes it a little bit easier to manipulate the flaps. 5 flaps per track is a good amount. Then you can put two tracks together for a series of ten numerals. I like to have students work on a series that crosses a decade, for example 35-44. Numeral tracks are also a great tool for students to learn about the numeral before and after a given numeral.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Neat idea on the framing mat board. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  6. Carol

    I saw something similar to this at a workshop and totally forgot about it! We could use these to work on our number to 100 objective, too, by using strips with larger numbers. And if I can use my fancy duct tape, I’m all in!
    Carol
    Still Teaching After All These Years

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Absolutely, Carol! You can use any numbers on the strips. It’s a pretty nifty little tool.

      Reply
  7. lcooney

    This looks like a great idea! I can’t wait to make it at school and try it out. Think my kiddos will like it. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I know! It’s a neat idea, right? Have fun making it! 🙂

      Reply
  8. lcooney

    This looks like a great idea! I can’t wait to make it at school and try it out. Think my kiddos will like it. Thanks!

    Reply

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