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Lesson plan

Introduction to Negative Numbers Lesson Plan Day 1


In this lesson, we’ll introduce the concept of negative numbers to `6`th graders. Students will get to do an exploratory activity where they become a number line! Students will work together through number sense to place their numbers `-6` through `6` to create a human number line. They will get to play a game of simon says as well to understand absolute value.

Grade 6
Negative Numbers
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Students will be able to plot negative numbers on a number line and understand the absolute value of a number.


  • Teacher Slideshow
  • Human Number Line Numbers
  • Online Practice

How to Teach Introduction to Negative Numbers


Start the lesson off by displaying slide one of the teacher slideshow.

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Copy these Google Slides for free

Give students a few minutes to think about where they would place `3, -3, 4,` and `-4` on the number line. Once they are done, have a few students share where each number would go and why. 

Explain to students that all positive numbers will go to the right of the `0` and all negative numbers will go to the left of the `0`.

Transition to the following slide `(3)` to ask a few extended questions.

Ask students what the distance is from `1` and `0` as well as `-1` and `0`. You can also then ask students what is the distance from `-3` and `0` and `3` and `0`. We want students to see that there is the same distance between both. Tell students that this is known as the absolute value because distance is always positive.

Explain to students what the opposite of a number means as well. Go through these examples with the students. Display slide `4`.

Human Number Line Activity

Tell students that they are going to create a human number line! Print out the `-6` through `6` digits and hand a number out to `13` students. Have those students arrange themselves. This activity is great because it gets students moving and they get to talk to each other about the order and what makes sense.

Once students have correctly placed themselves in order we can play some rounds of simon says! Now the audience will get to play! Give `1` or two examples and then have students in the audience ask their human number line. Simon says questions. 

  • Start off by saying, the “Opposite of `-5` should step forward”. (The student holding `5` should step forward.  
  • Then do, the “the numbers that have the absolute value of `3` should sit down”. (Two students will sit down)
  • Another example is “the numbers that have an absolute value of `-3` should do a jumping jack. (Zero students will do jumping jacks.) Be careful to watch and see if the number `3` card does a jumping jack. Explain to students that the wording choice matters here. If it said, “The absolute value of `-3`, then card `3` would do the jumping jacks. In this example it is saying what number has an absolute value equal to `-3`.

We are going to play this game twice. Now it’s time for the audience to become the number line.

Once students have completed, collect the cards and shuffle them so that the audience and the students in the number line can switch roles. 

Introduction to Negative Numbers Practice

After you’ve completed the examples with the whole class, it’s time for some independent practice! ByteLearn gives you access to tons of introduction to negative numbers activities. Check out the online practice and assign to your students for classwork and/or homework!

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Introduction to Negative Numbers Practice
Problem 1 of 5
<p>Plot Point `C` at `-3 1/2` on the number line.</p><selectivedisplay data-props='{"show_in_create":true, "show_in_problem_qa": true}'><Numberline data-props='{ "min_scale": -4, "max_scale": -2, "interval": 1, "show_markers": true, "is_interactive": true, "interactive_color": "#000", "hash_marks_between_interval": 1, "name": "input_step_1", "points": [ { "id": 1, "is_interactive": true, "point_interaction": true, "show_point": true, "line_interaction": false }]}'></NumberLine ></selectivedisplay>

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