Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Number Line Apps & Online Tools

Number Lines (and Number Paths for Kindergarten and 1st grade) are a vital visual tool in mathematics.  They aren't just for ordering/sequencing numbers (see Common Core Standards 2.MD.6, 3.NF.2, 3.NF.3, 3.MD.1, 4.NF.6, 4.MD.2, 5.G.1, 6.RP.3, 6.NS.6, 6.NS.7, 6.EE.8, 6.SP.3, 7.NS.1, 8.NS.2).  Once children learn the sequence of numbers, number lines can be very useful for addition and subtraction.  Many teachers believe that number lines are only supposed to be used in the early elementary, but number lines are such a wonderful way to help children understand fractions, decimals, money, and time problems.  These number line apps are some of my favorites.

Favorite Number Line Apps

 Line 'em Up -This app gives kids an introduction into a number path. It gives them part of a number path started and then they have to finish it. Great for getting kids to understand the order of numbers and sets it up into a linear model so that kids can then understand a number line. FREE

Zoom - This app helps kids place numbers on a number line. They can Zoom in, to look at a small piece of the number line, or Zoom out to see an extended number line. FREE with paid upgrades

Lobster Diver and Pearl Diver - Both of these apps help students understand a number’s placement on a number line (fractions and negatives included). FREE

MathTappers: Number Line - This app is all about placing numbers on a number line.  There are lots of options in this app so that you can set the number size (whole numbers, decimals, negatives) as well as the tick marks that are shown, or not shown, on the number line. FREE

MathTappers: Estimate Fractions - Wanting kids to think about which benchmark number (0, 1/2, 1) a fraction is closest to?  This app does just that.  Kids have to estimate which benchmark the fractions are closest to and then place them on the number line by that benchmark number.  There are options of changing it to having the kids estimate the answers to addition and subtraction problems as well.  FREE

Coop Fractions A fun way to work on estimating with fractions. When you are shown a problem you have to move the chicken’s nest near where the answer to the problem lies on a number line. If you don’t get their nest in the right area the eggs will break.  FREE

Online Tools for Number Lines

DreamBox is one of my favorite online programs, but if you can't afford to do a subscription to their site they still have wonderful online teacher tools that you can find here:

The tools on DreamBox that make use of the number line are:

Addition with Tens on a Number Line
Addition on the Number Line Using Landmark Numbers
Subtraction on the Number Line Using Constant Difference
Ordering Fractions on a Number Line
Integers on the Number Line
Equivalent Fractions on the Number Line

Conceptua Math is another of my favorite online programs, but they are also subscription based.  Just like DreamBox, they put some great tools online to help teachers who do not have a subscription.  Check them out at https://www.conceptuamath.com/app/tool-library.

Here are two of their tools that can help you address fractions on a number line:

Place Fractions on a Number Line
Estimate Fractions with Benchmarks

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is a wonderful site that has a lot of online teaching tools.  Here are a few links to some of their tools that address number lines:

Number Line Arithmetic -  This virtual manipulative can help you model addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division on a number line.

Number Line Bounce - In this game, kids have to show the bounces along the number line in order to land at a specified number.

Number Line Bars - Uses bars and the number line to model addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Nice way to help kids see the connection between the number line and bar model (or tape diagrams).

Number Line Bars: Fractions - Uses bars and the number line to model addition, subtraction, and division with fractions.  Nice way to help kids see the connection between the number line and bar model (or tape diagrams).

Place Value Number Line - Nice activity to help kids visualize large (billions) and small (decimals) numbers and all the numbers in between.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


When I first started doing trainings on iPad use in math classrooms I focused pretty much just on math apps. However, I have changed direction here recently for two reasons. First, there are not many fantastic math apps out there that help develop mathematical understanding. Most math apps are “drill” type apps. Those are fine, they serve a purpose, but I really do want math apps that are more than just electronic flashcards and those are really hard to find. Second, there are so many apps that claim to be math apps, and more are added everyday, that it is impossible to keep up on the best math apps. Once I had filled my iPad from the “best of...” list there is a new “best of...” list that comes out and I feel like I need to add those to my iPad as well. Next thing I knew my iPad was filled with hundreds of apps that took up five screens of my iPad (and that was when they were combined into folders)!!  That is when I came across an article online by Tom Daccord titled The ‘Evergreen’ iPad: Why all your apps shouldfit on one screen. The title caught my attention quickly and as I read through it I realized what I had been doing wrong. I was focused solely on finding good Content apps, but Mr. Daccord opened my eyes to the true power of having an iPad in the classroom. The iPad isn’t just a way to make the math content more fun and engaging, it is a powerful tool to spark imagination, creativity, and ingenuity in our students. When we focus on finding the right apps to teach a certain content, we limit ourselves and our students. Instead, we should be looking more for “evergreen apps,” or apps that can be used year round within any content area. Daccord puts it this way: 
  • “Once educators focus on the iPad’s creative learning potential, they can start to cultivate a small set of “Evergreen Apps” into almost limitless instructional possibilities. Evergreen Apps—such as iMovie, Garage Band, Explain Everything, Paper53, Inspiration, Animoto, VoiceThread, and Doodlecast—are non-subject apps useful throughout the year for speaking, writing, listening, drawing, annotating, curating, collaborating, sharing, and more...Instead of trying to find an app to teach every curriculum topic (an impossible feat and a waste of time), educators instead can integrate Evergreen Apps, along with perhaps a few select content apps, to foster student creativity and innovation.”

    For example, an app like Educreations, is not a “math app” but can be used by students in a math class to explain their strategy for solving 39 + 17. They can record their audio explanation, add visuals, and then share it with the whole class or keep it as an electronic work sample for their portfolio. These types of apps will not be found by searching “math” in the app store, but can be used in so many creative ways in the math classroom. The pages on this blog will focus on these types of apps (organized by what they help you do; Consumption, Curation, Creation, Connection/ Collaborate, and Management) and giving you ideas on how they can be used in a K-5 math classroom. I have also included some of my favorite Content apps for math, a page for K-2 and a page for 3rd-5th. Any prices that are listed with the apps were prices when I downloaded them...prices do change!