Number line game

Mathematics or numbers is a lesson that I know a lot of people tend to avoid. I am not one of those people, and have once desired to change how people perceive mathematics.

Sometimes, games make math more fun. Ever considered using a very mathematical concept for a game? Mateo and I do that with the number line. The very boring number line turned into a simple game, and he actually likes it.


Your kid needs to already know how to count in order to play this. He also has to be ready for the concept of addition, and in a lesser degree subtraction.

How to play

At the barest minimum, you’ll only need a paper and two players to play this game. But let’s be more creative and DIY some stuff.

You will need:

  • paper or card stock
  • blank dice OR card stock to create a dice
  • glue
  • scissors
  • pen or marker
  • game pieces
  • game template

Create the fun

  1. Print the number line. Cut along the lines. Glue along the guides — put together along the broken line and the end of the previous line.
  2. If you’re feeling fancy, you can laminate the number line. I prefer to put a clear tape over the paper, then trim for better finishing. We roll it and placed in a container with the dice to keep it organized.
  3. Create the dice. Write the numbers (+5,+4, +3, +2, -1,-2) on the faces of the dice. See below for the options on what to write.

Dice options

The simplest choice is the set (+4, +3, +2, -1, -2, -3), but the game will drag on with this one. I don’t recommend having both + and – for the same set of numbers (i.e., plus (+) and minus (-) for the same set of numbers (1, 2, 3)) because you will have the tendency to get stuck in place. Even this first set of numbers that I recommended will give you a slow progress of moving forward.

To have a relatively quick and easy game, choose (+5, +4, +3, +2, -1, -2). I don’t want to dwell on why we these numbers, but think about expected numbers, randomness, and probabilities.

Roll the dice

If you get a positive number (the plus sign), move forward. Negative numbers (the minus sign) will make you move backward. Just like addition and subtraction. Whoever reaches the finish line first wins, yey!

Since this is for preschoolers, we stop at zero (0) and skip on explaining the numbers before zero. The file includes negative numbers, though.

Ideally, the kids will see how addition moves you up the number line, while subtraction brings you back. It’s up to you how advanced you like to make this game for the kid. It’s better to keep it fun, though, without the stress of “lessons”.

Do you love math? 😉

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