Positive and Negative Number Game

Last week, we were focusing on adding and subtracting integers.  If you remember, I wrote a post about how I got the students to understand the process here, but they really seemed to need a bit more this year.

So after scouring the internet, I found this really fun game that cemented the idea for them.  If you click here, you can get all the templates for FREE.  Now, let me explain the game to you.

This was played in pairs.  The students were each given a game board and recording sheet to share between the two.  They then used some sort of marker (paper clips are the perfect size for this, but my students also used pieces of paper or eraser)  Player 1 rolled the die.  That told them how many spaces to move either up (if even) or down (if odd).  Starting with a point total of 20 points each, the students then set up an addition problem and added their point total with the number they landed on.

For example, if the student rolled a 6, that meant they moved up 6 spaces.  It put them on +2 (let's say)  The student would add 20 + 2 for 22 total points.  The next move, that player rolled a 5.  They had to move down 5 spaces to put them on -3.  The student then added 22 + (-3) for a total of 19.

The first player to 100 points is the winner.

The kids LOVED it!  They were literally cheering when they got positive point totals.  It was fun!

One thing that I would caution is that my students wanted to add the number they rolled instead of where they landed.  So if they rolled a 2, they wanted to add 2.  If they rolled a 1 they wanted to add (-1).   When I noticed that, I had to redirect the entire class and put us all back on track.  But they finally understood and we were on our way.

This game is now in my "May Do" center for Math Workshop.  They are so happy :)


  1. Fantastic game! Thanks for sharing how it worked in your room. I'm always amazed at how engaging you make your lessons. Teaching positive and negative numbers have never looked so fun!! :)

  2. My high kids will LOVE this! Negative numbers scare my kids, so this will be such a fun and easy way to introduce them. You never cease to amaze me Ms. Stephanie!!!! THANK YOU!

    YoungTeacherLove 5th Grade Blog

  3. I am totally doing this for review and "cementation". I am always so happy to receive your posts.I love to reading your great ideas and then "borrowing" like crazy...lol
    thanks a bunch

  4. This is excellent! I will definitely do this in the future and I can see where the kids would love it.

    Did I ever miss you writing about your Math Workshop? I have gotten a bit behind and may have done so (I'm sorry!). I will do some browsing around your site...I would love to read how you run your workshop Steph :)

    1. Ugh! I meant to link it in the post. I wrote about it last year...so you aren't behind ;) Here is the link.


  5. That really is a great lesson and gives them lots of practice though it probably didn't feel at all like it. Great tip!

  6. Thanks gals for all of your kind words. I really appreciate them :)

  7. As an upper level math teacher, I am glad to see that you are making the distinction between subtraction and negative. One thing that a lot of teachers miss (or never learned) is that they actually do have their own mathematical meanings.

    Subtraction is an operation. All operations are 'something you do' to a number.

    Positive and negative are directions. That is why up is positive and down is negative on the y axis and why right is positive and left is negative on the x axis. That is why you can say that positive 4 and negative 4 are 'opposites' of each other. When your students take physics, a positive direction will mean going up (or forward) and a negative direction means going down (or backward). In vector math, magnitude refers to amount while negative(or positive) refers to direction.

    I tell you this because it would be such a simple fix to have your subtraction sign represent the action (moving forward or back, for example), and the negative sign represent direction (face right or left, for example). This would be consistent with upper level maths and physics as well as teach students that the symbols have separate (though similar) meanings.

    I hope this helps, and I think you're doing a great job!

  8. Thank you so much for this. Once our state testing is over and I can go back to my typical schedule, I'd love to add this to the menu. You always have the best ideas for math!

  9. I love this game! Thanks for the freebie! I'm always looking for new things to do with my kiddos in math and often stumble across one here. Thanks!

    Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason


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