6 Creative Number Line Manipulatives for Early Learners

Last Updated on July 14, 2022 by Editorial Team

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Learning numbers is not only about identifying or recognizing them. In fact, it is just the start. The early learners need to understand between the numbers too and carry on the operations. To ease this process, a very basic tool is used by educators. It is called the Number Line.

Children in the early math skill-building stage, take help of the number line to know about ascending and descending order of numbers, patterns and number sequencing, counting, etc. They also use this learning support to know the working behind addition and subtraction operations.

However, not all children are comfortable with the idea of drawing numbers on the number line; their poorly developed writing skills interfere with their practical understanding of number lines. This is why the use of number line manipulatives is recommended by researchers and educators.

Listed here are the engaging number line manipulatives that can make early math calculations a cakewalk for beginners.

Top number line manipulatives recommended for kindergartners and primary level learners

1. Number Paths

Number Paths

Just shift the slider to the required number while counting, and find the answer. This number line manipulative can give a better introduction to counting by 1s, 2s, 3s, and so on. Early learners can also acquaint themselves with math operations like addition and subtracting without going through writing struggles.

This number line features the numbers in groups of fives in a color-coded manner. Thus, the students can also learn about grouping the numbers in the sets of 5. Clicking sound contributes to the engagement quotient of this manipulative driving learners to fiddle with numbers by trying different combinations.

2. Draw erase number line strips

Draw erase number line strips

This assorted number line strips are outlined in interesting colors. The learners are given problem cards to perform the function on the strip provided. You can use, erase and reuse these strips as many times as you want, and get ample practice for early math operations like addition and subtraction.

You can give the students the practice of counting, adding or subtracting, in a time-pressed manner by setting the time-limit. Thus, apart from learning the operation part, you can attain fluency in counting and other math operations with practice and perseverance.

3. Number Line Floor Mat

Number Line Floor Mat

Number line floor mat combines playing with learning. Children are given challenges like add 3 or subtract 3 (just for an example). They do so by jumping on the floor mat by that many numbers, forward or backward, to add or subtract accordingly.

Thus, the whole process of struggling with the mathematical operations’ signs is dodged and the kids get to learn what actually happens when someone asks to add or subtract. This number line manipulative is quite suitable for dyscalculics who show discomfort towards the arithmetic signs and their corresponding functions.

4. Magnetic Modelling Number Line Kit

Magnetic Modelling Number Line Kit

This magnetic number line manipulative kit comes with a magnetic frog and magnetic arrows to give the kids an engaging tool for learning arithmetic operations. The frog shows by its movements what happens when you are adding a number to another number or subtracting the two.

Arrows are used to determine the number which is operated upon and the outcome derived from the arithmetic operation. Thus, you give a break from books, reading and writing and allow kids to internalize the math operations by moving the frogs as instructed in the math operation.

Simple to use and very engaging, this number line manipulative prepares kids to do basic operations confidently and know about the strategies to arrive upon solutions.

5. Rekenrek


Rekenrek is a proven number line manipulative that eases the process of learning numbers and math operations for kids. The numbers are replaced by beads that can be moved on the Rekenrek rod to perform the operation. For example, you can simply count the beads one by one to reach number seven. Then, you add four more to know how much the addition process will result.

Similarly, the process of subtraction can be understood by moving the beads backwards. This math manipulative boosts number sense in kids and they can imply the meaning of arithmetic operations more comprehensively using this learning support.

6. Number Balance

Number Balance

Number balance makes it easy for the young learners to understand the concept of equivalents by creating tangible form of equations on the balance.

The numbers written on either side of the balance make it a number line manipulative that can be used to learn counting and adding mostly. It is ideal for giving a practical overview of what is meant by when someone writes ‘4+2=6’ or any other similar equation.

Activities you can do with number line manipulatives

Activity-based learning is very important for grooming the little learners of mathematics into confident problem solvers. Some of the important classroom or at home activities possible to do with number line manipulatives are:

  • Number sense building – teach what the numbers imply and how their relationships change with application of operations
  • Give practice on counting with the help of quizzes – You give some time to let the child count the numbers on a manipulative and design quick quizzes to test their understanding
  • Play learning-based games – Ask children to move the beads or jump on the number strip, etc. Such simple actions allow kids to internalize adding, subtracting, forward and backward counting, etc.

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