We have a number line.
It was cheap. (My favorite thing about it!)
It doesn’t hang on the wall. (This might actually be my favorite part.)
We add to it as needed. Right now it’s up to forty-five. Eventually we’ll make it to 100 and it will start in the living room and end in my bedroom; the thirties on the stairs and the eighties in the bathroom.
Everyone uses it; the three year-old for simple counting, the first grader and third grader for skip-counting (and they can really skip–sort of) and walking out their addition, subtraction and multiplication.
I like getting them off their bums and in motion, their little feet tracing a numerical path as they forge and strengthen new ones in their brain.
A typical morning with my three year-old on the floor number line might include any of the following activities:
- Counts by ones from one to twenty, stepping with both feet in front of the number as she says its name; then she does the same counting backwards from twenty to one. If she’s feeling really sassy she can bunny hop or hop on one foot from number to number, but she has to be in front of the number as she says it.
- “Find the number” — I call out a number and she has to find it and stand in front of it as quickly as possible. Then I may ask questions or give directions like, “which number is next” or “move forward two numbers and tell me what number you’re on now”.
- Counting objects – I grab a handful of small items (pennies, paperclips, tiny toy dinosaurs, etc) and she has to count out the appropriate amount for a number that I select. Then I will ask what she can do to that group so that she has the correct amount for the next number on the number line (or the previous number).
No matter their age, everyone’s time with the floor number line ends the same way: “countdown and blast off!” This simply means counting down to one, yelling “blast off!” and running wildly around the house making any number of imagined rocket-like sounds.
One last word. Our floor number line is one of those perfect, golden arrows in my homeschool arsenal: no one moans, groans or complains when I give the order to set it up; quite the opposite, in fact. (Ok, really, that’s my favorite part.)