Math = Love: Real Number Line Project

Monday, September 10, 2012

Real Number Line Project

On the fourth day of school, I assigned my college algebra students the Real Number Line Project.

My inspiration came from here:

I even stole the name of the project.  The previous day, I had introduced the real number system.  We spent an entire class period classifying numbers as natural numbers, whole numbers, integers, rational numbers, and irrational numbers.  I wanted students to synthesize this information on their own.

So, I modified the project I linked to above for my college algebra students.   Students were required to include so many natural numbers, whole numbers, integers, rational numbers, and irrational numbers.  We had also just finished reviewing absolute value, so I had students include 3 pairs of numbers with the same absolute value.  Interestingly, this proved to be trickier for my students than I had anticipated. 

My instructions are here:

These are the results I got:

Real Number Line Project

Real Number Line Project

Real Number Line Project
In retrospect, I should have given my students larger pieces of paper and markers.  The number lines they produced were smaller than I had hoped, but it's my fault not theirs.  I was looking for something to decorate my classroom with.  They were simply completing an assignment. 

This project did spark some great conversations and questions.  So, it is definitely worth doing.  I will likely tweak the instructions before doing this again to clarify exactly what I am looking for. 


  1. I can envision a follow up activity to these personal number lines. Each student could get a sheet with a blank number line already on it so all the number lines line up when they are hung next to each other in the room. Each student is given a range for their section of the number line, so that when it's put together the whole number line is consecutive. You could then use it as an interactive review activity. For example, you could ask students to come up and locate specific numbers as you review for a test.

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    2. Awesome idea, bstockus! I can't wait to try this with my 6th graders.

  2. Good morning,
    My name is Abby and I help to run a website offering hundreds of free early years and KS1 teaching resources called Early Learning HQ (

    I can see that you are talking about number lines and I was wondering if you would have a little look at ours and see what you think. We have lots of different themes and they are all designed by me and a small team in Swansea, so it would be nice to share them with some more people! You can have a look at them here: /numeracy/ numberlines/.

    If you like our stuff then perhaps you would consider linking to our page so other people can find it as well? If you would like me to make any other resources then please let me know and I’ll see what I can do :).

    Many thanks,

  3. Hi, a wonderful post about a very fundamental aspect of math.

    Obviously, you are an outstanding teacher in many respects. And because you are, I am hoping that you will give me your thoughts and perhaps ask some questions about the alternate way of portraying zero through infinity as seen at ?


  4. In the real number system, intergers can only be whole numbers that are positive and negative. It's not till you get to rationals that the fractional numbers come into play. Unless you meant a fraction that simplified into a whole number ex: 10/5