The Number Ladder: Turning Addition and Subtraction from Top to Bottom

I have never understood why the number-line extends horizontally from left to right.  Young learners often confuse their left from right and others have trouble remembering which way to travel when trying to solve simple addition and subtraction problems.  However, when viewing a vertical number-line, it makes conceptual sense that going up would equate with adding, while traveling down would result in subtraction.  Furthermore, when solving multi-digit problems, we teach students to line up numbers vertically.  Therefore wouldn’t it be best to commence instruction with the number-line extending up-and-down?

Turning the Number-line Into a Ladder
To make the learning process even easier, I like to change the number line into a ladder that travels up into the sky.  This way, when students are instructed to add, they climb up the ladder and when they subtract they descend down the ladder.  What’s more, when students eventually learn about integers, the number line can descend down “into the ground.”

Free Game that Teaches this Concept:  
I love to use a staircase to help students really understand the concept of adding and subtracting. If you would like a free game that is ideal for kinesthetic learners as well as a copy of my Number Ladder, Click here

I Also Offer Two Publications:

  • If you want to purchase an interactive PowerPoint that teaches adding and subtracting whole numbers as well as a PDF file with activities and games, Click here.  
  • If you would like to purchase an interactive PowerPoint as well as a PDF that teaches all about adding and subtracting integers and also offers two games click on the image to the right or Click here

Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multi-sensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  
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