Negative numbers are difficult to explain with manipulatives. I’ve seen a football field with yard lines used as an example, and it’s a good one, but since my understanding of the game is limited to the field’s resemblance to a number line, I need a different approach. I’ve certainly experienced a bank account that goes below zero, but students’ eyes glaze over when I try to convince them that owing money means that you have less than nothing. Thermometers, of course, actually go below zero, so that’s a good visual image. Kids who live in Phoenix, who have never seen a thermometer even approaching zero, can still imagine ascending and descending a ladder that starts deep underground. Ground zero is precisely zero, but the ladder will take you up above (positive integers) and down below (negative integers).
Four images per page. Print in color on card stock.
Susan, Morris Tutoring Productions