Negative and positive number activities to do in the classroom

Numbers can be tricky for children to grasp, especially when negative numbers are thrown into the mix. Visual representations and games can help pupils to understand positive and negative numbers in an enjoyable, fun way. To help you teach children everything to do with numbers, we have created a list of negative and positive number activities to do in the classroom.

These negative and positive number activities are perfect to engage pupils in the world of maths and provide an opportunity for them to learn in a social way. Implement these activities into your lessons to help children have the knowledge and understand all numbers.



Head outside with your class and create some ladder number lines with chalk for pupils to learn negative and positive numbers. Shout out a number of your choice and have children race to that number up the ladder. The first child to get the number right wins the round!

To make this activity more difficult, introduce equations with negative and positive numbers. Doing this enables children to quickly figure out sums in order to get to the answer first.



A great way for children to learn negative and positive numbers is to create a visual aid with drawing sequences. Draw some sequences with negative and positive numbers on the board. Ask pupils to tell you if the sequences are right or wrong using their current knowledge of numbers. Make sure to feedback if they are right or wrong with their answers. This is crucial so that they learn from this activity.

Another way for pupils to learn from sequences is by putting numbers up on the board and allowing children to put them in order. This way to learn negative and positive numbers involves more critical thinking and working out. It can be difficult for children to do this activity due to this, but encourage them every step of the way so that they are willing to get involved.


Snakes and ladders

Tweak the traditional snakes and ladders board game for this fun and engaging activity. Create your own snakes and ladders board and incorporate negative numbers as well as positive ones. Or you can add a minus to some numbers on a large version of the game. However, the rules of the traditional game can remain the same.

Through playing this version of the game, children can learn addition and subtraction of negative and positive numbers. This will lead to an understanding of how numbers work and help to get children’s minds around tricky negative numbers.



Creating number jigsaws is one of the best negative and positive number activities to do as children can see how sums work with both numbers together. To do this activity create sums with negative and positive numbers. Break them up to form puzzle pieces of the sums.  For example, 5+(-4)= 1 can be broken into 4 pieces. 5, +, (-4), =1. Pupils can use their maths knowledge to find which jigsaw piece goes with what to create a correct sum.

This activity will assist with observing skills as well as critical thinking and quick maths solving. Plus, it will give children an understanding of numbers and make negative numbers seem less scary.


Negative and positive number activities children playing hopscotch outdoors

Real-life examples

Make your maths lessons effective by using something that can translate into real life where negative and positive numbers are used. Real-life examples of numbers can help push children to understand how they work. This is because children can relate it to real life and so they visually see how it works. Plus, it prepares them, for their futures when numbers are involved.

Take a lift as an example to visually show children negative and positive numbers. You may need to change the numbers to incorporate negative numbers as a lot of lifts don’t have negative number floors. Using a lift to show how numbers work, allows children to understand that as the floor level decreases the value of negative numbers also decreases, unlike positive numbers.

Another real-life example where negative and positive numbers work together is through debts and losses. This activity prepares children for their future more than anything. You can make a game showcasing debts and losses people and businesses can face.

Materials you need for this game are simply a number generator and an item of your choice to sell. Think of the price of the item you have chosen and get pupils to sell it to each other. Then when it comes to selling the item, another pupil must generate a number. Whatever number comes up is what they will sell the item for. Children must see if it is a loss or a profit and if it is a loss, this must be shown on the whiteboard as a negative number.


Negative and positive hopscotch

Make hopscotch twice more fun by adding a 0 and negative numbers to the positive number hopscotch. Allow children to play with the positive side and the negative side whilst learning the new negative numbers. They can even play with both together. Nothing will change how hopscotch works, but children can see visually all the numbers and start to understand them more. Plus, they can learn the language of the negative number side.

To make hopscotch more difficult create sums that children can hop on. They will have to figure out the answer to the equation and hop to the correct number.


Number lines

Number lines are the most popular ways to assist pupils with sequences, the relationship between numbers next to one another and the difference between counting forwards and backwards. Negative and positive number lines introduce the new aspect of numbers below 0. Negative numbers are typically a difficult concept for children to get their heads around. Never mind positive ones that can be tricky still. It gives an easy visual to see negative and positive numbers and how they connect. Have your negative and positive number line up in the classroom where everyone can see, such as the wall at the front of the classroom.

Use the worksheet’s sums from our negative number line blog to develop your pupil’s mental maths. With some practise, they will be able to make calculations in their heads without even looking at a number line.


Use these negative and positive number activities to expand pupils’ knowledge of how numbers work together and their number skills. These activities are a different way to visually show children numbers and sums in a fun and engaging way. Children will be keener to learn all about numbers and won’t shy away from their difficulties as they will be enjoying the activities.

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