I struggled in school. Deep down, it was the reason I became a teacher. If we ever had to write a story or spell or use our imagination in some way, I was good to go. Anything mathematical though, terrified me. The numbers played tricks on me. I could never think of them abstractly or add or subtract them and get the right answer.
Looking back at it all now, I realize I just needed a strategy. But, I learned Math in the time of no manipulatives. You either used your fingers or tried to picture it in your mind. Then one day my teacher handed me a number line. It changed everything for me. I knew that if I started at 4 and jumped 5, I would end at 9. That number line became my new best friend, I leaned on it so much that the pencil hops were engraved into it at one point. The number line gave me confidence because I knew that each time I used it and brought my work to the teacher, the red checkmarks would follow. And that was a wonderful feeling.
Now, I teach my kids so many strategies for addition and subtraction and the majority of them catch on quickly. But for those kids who just need a little extra something – the number line works every time. And it works for the same reason it worked for me, all those years ago – it’s a way of seeing numbers differently.
The numbers on a line, little soldiers, all standing up straight and in order. Jump forward or backward depending on the operation you’re doing. Let’s face it, it’s also a jump toward measurement at the same time. The number line begins at zero, so does the ruler.
So here’s a little number line practice just in time for Easter. Click on any of the pics to download.