Integers, integers, integers…. I could go on and on about how my students enjoy learning about integers. Why, you ask? Because I make it FUN and extremely simple. I keep the numbers all twenty and below. I want them to develop the concept of negative and positive integers down pat before I attempt to give them larger numbers. Once they have the concept down, then you can start introducing them to larger numbers. The following is basically a step-by-step of what I did to teach the unit of adding and subtracting integers. I am including both adding and subtracting in this blog because they go hand-in-hand with each other. The concepts they learn with the manipulatives in adding integers must be used for subtracting integers.
1. The first thing I did was to give them a cup with two-color counters in it. Why the cup? Because I found them on sale at Target. Four cups for $0.50. I figured I could use them for a lot of things, putting my counters in them was the first thing. I allowed them a little bit (about a minute) to shake around the cups and “play” with the counters. If you let them do this now, they will will not play with them “as much” as if you don’t give them the time. I then taught them to add integers the way I show it in this video I shot this summer.
In that video, my plan was to make enough of those magnets for students to share. I didn’t end up doing that because a) it would have taken forever, b) it would have cost me an arm and a leg, and c) while integer operation is a skill required for Oklahoma sixth graders this year, we move to Common Core next year where integers are a seventh grade skill. I gave my students two-color counters, and I used the magnets I made in the subtracting integers video on my magnetized white board. Here is a picture of it.
My students always have to mess with them before the bell rings. They try to make different arrangements with them.
Here is a picture of my two-color counters, the cute and cheap Target cups I used to keep them organized, and the integer mat that I printed out and laminated for them to use as their “place mats.”
Here is a link to the freebie I followed for adding integers. I followed it basically word-for-word, except that I used more examples based on how I felt my students were grasping it. Some classes needed more examples than others.
I’m telling you now, I have taught integers the old fashioned way by just telling them the rules and teaching them the song (which the song really worked, but didn’t get show them the “why” for the rules), and seeing unmotivated students, seeing learning disabled students, seeing students who STRUGGLE in math totally and completely understand how to add and subtract integers is the MOST amazing feeling in the world. I have taught integers using two-color counters for the last three or four years now, and sitting back and watching students work these problems with ease never gets old.
After the students work a few problems with the two-color counters, I have them put the counters away and I give them dry-erase markers and a napkin. I have them draw circles with positive and negative symbols in them to model the integers. It is really important for them to go from that concrete model to drawing them. Drawing them gives them a tool in case, for some reason, they get confused with a problem. Some students may still have to draw them for a while to catch on. That’s ok. They’ll eventually evolve from it.
After the students got the hang of adding integers, I passed out a set of integer cards. I had the students stand up and travel around the room until I counted down from five to one. When I got to one, they were to find a partner near them and write an addition expression with the two integers and find the value. We did that for four or five rounds. Here is a copy of the integer cards I used. It’s totally free!
After students did their “traveling”, we came back together and I passed out my set of “I Have/Who Has” cards for adding integers. I had students write the question and answer to each problem in their math spiral notebook. This ensured all students working the problems and paying attention. I had no problem having students participate. The times you have students who won’t participate are when they don’t understand. Having them do the models and play the “travel” game, most all students understand by now. Below you can purchase the “I Have/Who Has Integer Operation Bundle.” It actually has a set of cards for each operation. It is for sale for $4.00.
You can buy this from my Teachers Pay Teachers store or here on my blog for only $4.00.
The following day, we spent the whole day playing games that reinforced the skill of adding integers. I had students pair up, and had three different games that they rotated through. One game was my “Whack-a-Mole” game for adding integers, another was my “Go Fish” game for adding integers, and the third was a “Thunderstruck” game that I made with popsicle sticks and paint. The “Whack-a-Mole” and “Go Fish” games are for sale here on my blog or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.50 a piece. The “Thunderstruck” game I made and will have a blog post on it later this week. My students LOVED playing all of the games. For some of you who are concerned about printing the games out using all of the color, you don’t have to use color. For this set, I printed them out with just black and white. I didn’t even laminate them, because I won’t be teaching integers next year and didn’t want to spend that much money and time on something I won’t be using for a while. The students still loved them, and they made it through four different classes just fine. Below is the opportunity to purchase those two games.
Here is the Whack-a-Mole game that I made. It is actually very colorful, but I printed it out in black and white. This great game is only $2.50. You can buy it here or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Here you can buy the “Go Fish Adding Integers” game here or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.50.
Here is a picture of the “Thunderstruck” popsicle stick game the students played.
For subtracting integers, I followed the following video and freebie. I again varied the number of examples according to the understanding of my classes.
I then played “I Have/ Who Has” using the subtraction set of the integer bundle that is at the top of this post for $4.00. We also played “Biker Frog Bingo Subtracting Integers” game. The students really enjoyed it. I bought cute little trophies from Party Galaxy for very cheap. I used my label maker to make a label that said “Biker Frog Bingo Champion” for the student who won a bingo first. Students really got a kick out of that. After the first student won the bingo, we then would play “black out” just so the students would continue to get practice. I had the students write the questions and answers in their math spiral notebook.
You can buy “Biker Frog Bingo Subtracting Integers” here on my blog or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.50.
In my remedial math class, that is an additional math class student must take if they failed their state test from the year before, we play these games again and I also have them play together with the integer operation cootie catchers. You can use these in your regular math classes, I just ran out of time. Here you can buy those cootie catchers as well for only $2.00.
You can buy it here or from my Teachers Pay Teachers store for only $2.00.