Hands on Math Activities With Integers

The integers are the set of numbers produced from starting with 0 and adding or subtracting 1 repeatedly. This gives the list of numbers (..,-3,-2,-1,0,1,2,3,..). Knowledge of the integers is taught in the early grades and used throughout high school and college. Hands on activities that involve children interacting with each other and real-world objects helps them learn integers from a different perspective. Many children learn more effectively when they are physically doing an activity, instead of just listening to a teacher lecturing.

  1. Food counting game

    • Give each student a few dozen rice grains or other small pieces of food. Present an addition or subtraction problem on the board. Have the students make two piles of rice, one for each number. The students then remove or add rice from the two piles to perform the arithmetic problem. They count the amount of rice in the resulting pile and put their answer on a card face down. After everyone is finished, the students raise their cards. The children who got the right answer are rewarded by being allowed to eat a few pieces of food.

    Toys game

    • Present a student with a set amount of toys in a pile. Give the student an integer and tell them to remove toys one by one from the pile until they've taken out as many toys as the number you gave them. Have the student count the remaining amount of toys. This game provides a hands-on activity for learning integer subtraction.

    Card war game

    • Split students into groups of two and give each group a deck of cards. Give each student half the group's deck of cards, face down. When the teacher says GO, each student turns his top card over. Red-suited cards represent negative values of the number on the card and black-suited cards represent positive values. The children race to find the value of their two cards added together. Track the scores and give the winning child a prize.

    Human number line

    • Create a series of note cards, each having a positive or negative integer written on them. Give each child one card and have them arrange themselves into a line, arranged by order from left to right. Have a random student get out of line and go stand next to another child. Tell the student to subtract or add his number to the other child's number. Have the student count while walking left or right to reach the correct place in line. The other students can watch and try to guess where the child will end up.

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  • Photo Credit number twelve image by sonya etchison from Fotolia.com

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