Negative numbers are numbers that are less than zero. On a horizontal number line, they appear to the left of the zero, or underneath it on a vertical numberline.
Negative numbers are important in real life. When it is below freezing, the numbers on a thermometer are negative, for example.
Teach your children about the negative numbers using our handy topic guide!
- Read thermometer scales and work out the difference between two temperatures.
- This Incy Wincy spider game is useful for introducing the idea of counting either way from zero on a number line.
- Challenge children to number the steps below the water in this swimming pool.
- Positive plays negative in this tug of war game.
- Children can practise adding and subracting with negative numbers below 20 with this activity.
- Set up a physical number line on the floor or playground, and ask children to move along it to solve addition and subtraction problems.
- This lesson plan includes a great activity idea using some of the highest and lowest places on Earth.
Negative Numbers Facts
- Negative numbers have been used by people for at least 2000 years.
- To show a number is negative, write a minus sign in front of it.
- You will find negative numbers on a thermometer.
- If a building has a lift that goes to a basement, it could be marked -1.
Negative Numbers: An Overview
This brief video is a good introduction to real uses for negative numbers.
Running time: 1:50
A Trick for Adding and Subtracting Negative Numbers
A really useful visualisation to help children remember how to add and subtract negative numbers.
Running time: 2:00
Adding and subtracting negative numbers
A full explanation of adding and subtracting negative numbers using a number line.
Running time: 4:29
Ordering negative numbers
A good explanation of how to order negative numbers.
Running time: 3:58
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