Ugh! Number lines are tricky. Students always seem to have a difficult time understanding this concept. Here are some strategies and resources you can use to help support student learning.
1. Cuisenaire Rods
Using cuisenaire rods are a great way to help students develop their understanding of fractions on a number line. For example, students can use the brown rod as their whole and then see which smaller rods they can use to equal the brown rod. Students can then trace the rods to create a number line! Enjoy a free resource you can use with your students to build number lines with Cuisenaire Rods.
2. Paper Clips
If your school does not have Cuisenaire Rods available, then pull out a set of paper clips. Students can link the paper clips together to form a “number line.” Again, visual concepts are really going to help your students (especially your struggling students) understand a concept. By using paper clips students will understand that the space between the marks on a number line represents one part of the whole. They can see that with the physical paper clips being there as the “spaces.”
3. Using Rulers
Again, relating fractions to real world uses can be very beneficial. Students can use rulers as a number line. Then students can measure objects around the classroom to practice identifying fractions on a number line. You can find rulers that have various fractional parts identified so based on student needs you might start with a ruler that only has halves labeled and then continue progressing to rulers with fourths labeled and so on and so forth. I have created a free flipchart you can use to practice using rulers to measure objects with your class!
4. Task Cards & Practice
Practice, practice, practice! The more exposure to fractions your students have the more comfortable they will begin feeling with naming fractions on a number line and making their own number lines. I use task cards and practice pages to give students as much opportunity as possible to build their knowledge of number lines.
Check out some of my TPT products for some great practice opportunities with number lines. Give students as many opportunities as possible to explore with number lines!
--Fractions on a Number Line Task Cards
--Fractions on a Number Line Practice Pages
--Fractions on a Number Line Flip Chart