Addition and Subtraction of Positive and Negative Numbers

Grade 6

Created by:

Math & Movement

Activity Instructions

Have students make one turn for each negative sign—NOT including the first number in the equation! Two negatives require a 360-degree turn, canceling the change in direction.
Step 1: Have a student stand on the number line on the first number in the equation. Always face the positive direction (“up” the mat).
Step 2: Have the student decide if turns are necessary. Ask the question, “Are you adding or subtracting?” Make a 180 degree turn when subtracting. Ask the question, “Is the second number positive or negative?” Make a 180 degree turn when the second number is negative.

EXAMPLE 1: 3 – 5 =
Have the student stand on the positive 3 facing the positive numbers (facing toward the positive 10). Ask the question, “Are you adding or subtracting?” Since the student is subtracting, make one turn and stand facing the negative numbers. Ask the question, “What is the sign of the second number?” Since it is positive, do not take another turn. Walk five steps, ending with NEGATIVE 2 (-2).

EXAMPLE 2: 3 – (-5) =
Have the student stand on the positive 3. Ask the question, “Are you adding or subtracting?” Since the student is subtracting, make one turn and stand facing the negative numbers. Ask the question, “What is the sign of the second number?” Since it is negative, make another turn and stand facing the positive numbers. Walk five steps, ending with POSITIVE 8 (+8).

EXAMPLE 3: 3 + 5 =
Have the student stand on the positive 3. Ask the question, “Are you adding or subtracting?” Since the student is adding, do not turn. Ask the question, “What is the sign of the second number?” Since it is positive, do not turn. Walk five steps, ending with POSITIVE 8 (+8).

EXAMPLE 4: 3 + (-5) =
Have the student stand on the positive 3. Ask the question, “Are you adding or subtracting? Since the student is adding, do not turn. Ask the question, “What is the sign of the second number?” Since it is negative, make one turn and stand facing the negative numbers. Walk five steps ending with NEGATIVE 2 (-2).

EXAMPLE 5: -3 – 5 =
Have the student stand on the negative 3, facing the zero (the positive direction). Ask the question, “Are you adding or subtracting?” Subtracting! Turn 180° so that you are facing the negative numbers (facing in the direction of negative 10). Ask the question, “What is the sign of the second number?” Positive! Do not turn. Walk five steps, ending with NEGATIVE 8 (-8).

EXAMPLE 6: -3 – (-5) =
Have the student stand on the negative 3, facing the zero (the positive direction). Ask the question, “Are you adding or subtracting?” Subtracting! Make one turn and stand facing the negative numbers. Ask the question, ‘What is the sign of the second number?” Negative. Make another turn and stand facing the positive numbers. Walk five steps, ending with POSITIVE 2 (+2).

EXAMPLE 7: -3 + 5 =
Have the student stand on the negative 3, facing the zero and the positive direction. Ask the question, “Are you adding or subtracting?” Since you are adding, do not turn. Ask the question, “What is the sign of the second number?” It is positive. Do not turn. Walk five steps, ending with POSITIVE 2 (+2).

EXAMPLE 8: -3 + (-5) =
Have the student stand on the negative 3, facing the zero (the positive direction). Ask the question, “Are you adding or subtracting?” Since you are adding, do not turn. Ask the question, “What is the sign of the second number?” It is negative. Make one turn and stand facing the negative numbers. Walk five steps, ending with NEGATIVE 8 (-8).


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