Introducing the Number Line

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SWBAT place and identify numbers on a number line.

Big Idea

The number line is a tool 6th grade students will need throughout the year and this activity will allow students to explore and become familiar with it.

Do Now (The jump, jump game)

20 minutes

This activity has the students working in pairs to “jump” from one number to another on the number line in as few jumps as possible.

To play the game, players should complete the problems on the worksheet by moving from one number to another in the fewest jumps possible.  To get to a number, players can only jump forward or backward and they can only jump using 1’s, 10’, or 100’s.  Each player completes the problem separately.  Players will count how many jumps they made and the player with the fewest amount of jumps can put an “X” in the box.  The player with the most amount of “X’s” is the winner.  Players can use curves to show their jumps.  Large jumps will be a large curve and small jumps will be a small curve. 

This activity is a good visual representation of what it means to add.  For example, 26 on the number line is the same as adding 2 tens and 6 ones.  (MP4)

Locating Numbers

20 minutes

Students will be working on the worksheet called Locating numbers.  Students will be estimating where numbers belong on a number line.  Advise students to label their markings with the first letter of the student’s names.  If there are two of the same letter,  they can use the first two letters.

In problem number 1, students will be putting the ages of their family members on a number line.  Ask the students why they number line is from 0 to 100? (This represents all the ages of the family members).  Is there another way to set up the number line? (Yes,  accept all reasonable answers as long as they include the fact that the youngest and oldest age need to be included).  Have the students put the ages on the number line.  Next, have them compare their number lines with a partner and discuss any differences. (SMP1 and 2)

In problem #2, the students will be putting distances on a number line. After students estimate where the distances will be placed, have them compare answers with a partner and discuss any differences. (SMP3)


In problem #3, the students will have to estimate the distances on the number line.  As students complete the distance list, ask them to compare their answers with a partner and discuss any differences.  For students that work at ease, have them compare problems 2 and 3.  Ask them which pilot improved the most and which improved the least?  Explain their answers.(SMP 3)

As students complete problem #3 and discuss it, you can bring this part of the lesson to a close by asking students if their answers were exactly the same? Have the students explain their thoughts.  I’m expecting to hear that answers were not exactly the same because they were using estimating.

The Number Line as a Tool

20 minutes

The students will be working on several word problems  and using the number line to show how to solve.  After each problem, have the students do a HUSUPU to share their strategies with a partner.

**If students are struggling, explain to them that this is just like the Jump, Jump game.  For example, in question 3 you could say how do I go from 38 to 74?

Some students may begin to solve these problems mentally.  As long as they can verbalize their strategy (from their head) it’s fine to let them do that.  To get students thinking about mental math, I would encourage them to visualize a number line in their head. (SMP2)


15 minutes

I will be asking the students to come up with 2 strategies to solve this problem

Create and solve your own problem using the numbers 408 and 970

Here are some sample strategies

400 + 970 = 1370

1370 + 8 = 1378

410 + 970 = 1380

1380 – 2 = 1378


Subtraction problems

970 – 410 = 560

560 + 2 = 562