Math = Love: Made 4 Math Monday: Real Number System Nesting Boxes

Monday, August 5, 2013

Made 4 Math Monday: Real Number System Nesting Boxes

I hope everybody is having a fabulous Monday!  I've really been enjoying my last Monday of summer.  And tomorrow, I will celebrate my last day of summer.  Teachers report on Wednesday for inservice, and we will have students in our classrooms on Thursday!  I'm still not quite sure where this summer went.  Oh wait, yes I do.  This summer was spent going to 16 days of conferences, directing Vacation Bible School, taking a group of 3rd-6th graders to church camp, spending time with family, watching way too many episodes of Doc Martin on Hulu, and reading as much as possible.

Today, I was very blessed to meet some of my tweeps in person!  I had a lovely lunch with @druinok, @Johnsonmath, and @RebeckahMozdeh.  We had some great conversations over delicious Mexican food.  It was good to put an actual person to the twitter avatars that I am used to communicating with. :)  

Today's Made4Math project is something that I actually started way back in May.  Inspired by this pin, I sat out to create my own set of nesting boxes to represent the real number system.  Luckily for me, my parents run a business that does a lot of shipping.  They have an entire room upstairs that is full of empty cardboard boxes.  So, with only a little digging, I was able to find the perfect set of boxes.  I used a box knife to cut the flaps off each box, and I cut down each box so that it was the same height.

Real Number System Nesting Boxes
Green - Real Numbers
Blue - Rational Numbers
Purple - Irrational Numbers
Red - Integers
Yellow - Whole Numbers
White - Natural Numbers
This was the part of the project that I did in May.  I retrieved colored paper from the storage room at school to cover the boxes, but the boxes remained uncovered until yesterday.  My sister used some of her art major skills to help me figure out how to successfully cover the boxes.  They're not perfect, but I still love them.  And, I think they will help some of my more visual students realize that because the natural numbers box sits in the whole numbers box that means that every natural number is a whole number.

Real Number System Nesting Boxes - Unstacked

I actually have one more step to complete before these are finished.  I need to label them!  For some strange reason, I just discovered that I don't actually have a Sharpie in my house.  My search resulted in a grand total of one permanent marker.  But, it was one of those super jumbo markers, and I decided that wouldn't be the best idea.  So, tomorrow, I will label each box with the subset of the real number system that it represents!

(Or - maybe I should put the labels on velcro.  Then, students could practice velcroing (is that even a word???) the correct name to the correct box.  And, I could provide laminated numbers that students would have to put in the most specific subset of the real number system.  Hmm...)

Last year, I had my students fill out a graphic organizer that emphasized this, but some students were still confused.  I still plan on doing the graphic organizer.  These will just be a concrete representation of the Real Number System that I will refer to when introducing it.

Graphic Organizer from Last Year's Interactive Notebook


  1. Cool! I sense a station in the making--give the kids a zip lock baggie full of numbers, and have them put them in the right boxes. I like the visualization.

  2. GREAT visual!!! I will be sharing this with my Algebra teacher!

    Hodges Herald

  3. Sarah - love your nesting boxes! I'll teach real numbers this year - and I've been wondering what to do beyond the Venn Diagram. By the way, I also ran across this foldable: Wish I could take credit :) but I can't. Might be worth building in class!

  4. I have an idea in my head that I can't seem to figure out how to create. It's sort of Plinko style and an inverted triangle. The spaces between pegs would somehow get smaller as they went down. The different numbers would be different sizes and when you drop them in, they go through every subset they are a part of. So, the number 4 would be pretty small - touch each subset and land in the natural numbers. -3 would be the third in size, so it wouldn't go down farther than the integers. Does this make sense? Do you think it would work???

    1. The first time I read this comment, I was extremely confused. But, I just reread it now, and I get it. I like the idea! I'm wondering what you would make the pieces out of? Wood? Hmm...

  5. Love this idea...makes it more kinesthetic than the usual Venn diagram on paper. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Maybe you could make them in proportion to the size of the sets!

  7. Sorry, kind of making fun.
    How do you compare countable and uncountable infinite sets?
    I don't know! I think I need to read some Cantor.

    Thanks for your lovely website.