DIY Numeral Track

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

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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.

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  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

    1. 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

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

  7. 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!

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