Number Line Games

Recommended Age: 5+ | Mathematical Topic: Comparing & Ordering Quantities

What To Do

Counting is one thing, but how do children figure out what all those numbers mean? Especially as the numbers get so big that you can’t count them easily? Number lines are a tried and true way to visualize what large numbers mean, and research shows that understanding number lines helps children do better in school math. Make a simple number line on paper or poster board, with only the end points and the center marked. For young children, you can start with a 0 to 10 number line, but with older children, you can use larger numbers, like 0 to 100 or 0 to 1000. Try writing a number on a piece of paper and then ask your child to put it on the spot where it goes on the number line. Or just say the number and see if they can put their fingers on the right place. Another way to play it is you put your finger on the number line and ask your child to estimate what number goes there. The more children can see how the numbers fit on the number line, the better they’ll understand, at least roughly, what the numbers mean.

Moving On

As your child gets good at one number line, move up to a larger number line. Even adults can have trouble with very large numbers, so you can probably keep going as long as it’s fun.