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You Need To Try These Easy Fractions on a Number Line Activities

You’re teaching fractions on a number line for what seems like the umpteenth time. As you do a quick check around the room, you notice many of the kids are getting the problems incorrect. You need to help them but have no idea how. Are there even activities that actually help kids understand fractions on a number line?

Fractions on a Number Line Activity

Before using a number line, this first activity helps students understand the parts of a line using unit fractions. Each child will need paperclips in different colors and a piece of paper. Each paperclip stands for one part of the whole. I like to give each child two different colors so they can see that one paperclip is one unit.


To begin the activity, tell the students to create a line with 3 of their paperclips. One of the paperclips will be a different color than the rest.

They lay out their line of paperclips on the sheet of paper and draw the number line. They mark each unit fraction with 1/3.

Give them a few other unit fractions and have them create their number lines and label them. Once you see that students have grasped the unit fractions, they can move on to bigger fractions.

Depending on your students, this may be the same day or a lesson for the next day.


Interactive Number Line with Fractions

Students should now have a better understanding of the parts of a number line using fractions. Next, they’ll work with an interactive number line which can be done in two ways.

The first interactive number line uses string and index cards. Cut a piece of string that is long enough to hang and divide up into fractional parts.

Fold up 3×5 index cards and write fractions on each one.

If you’re going to do fourths, you would write 1/4, 2/4, and 3/4. You’ll also write 0 on one card and 1 on the other card.


Place the 0 and 1 card on each end of the string. This is the whole. Next, pass out the eight fractions and have the kids work together to place them on the string.

After they have placed the fractions, review their work as a group and clear up any misconceptions.

Do these same steps using different denominators like sixths and eighths.

Once the kids get the hang of that you can have them place fractions on the number line using a benchmark fraction. For example, place 4/8 in the middle and give someone the 2/8 fraction. They need to use what they know about the parts to place the 2/8 fraction correctly. Continue doing this with other denominators.

Another way to do the interactive number line is by using tape. Lay the tape on the ground and place the 0 and 1 card at each end. This is the whole. Do the activities that you would with the string except the cards will just lay on the floor.


Plotting Fractions on a Number Line Activities

This next activity is perfect for kids to work independently or with a partner. Give each child or partnership a sentence strip and fraction bars. (If you don’t have fraction bars you can find printable ones online. Have the kids color them and cut them out.)

Assign the fractions that you want the kids to label. For example, you can assign 2/3, 4/6, 5/7 and 2/10. To show 2/8, the kids place their fraction bars on the sentence strip.

They use the bars to draw their whole number line and divide it up into eighths.

Then they mark the fraction 2/8. You could also have them mark all of the eighths like in the picture. They do the same thing with the other assigned fractions, on other parts of the sentence strip.


I like using a sentence strip because it’s a straight line that’s perfect for number lines. It’s also different which always makes it more interesting for the kids. But if you don’t have sentences strips, regular paper works too.

Fractions on a Number Line 3rd Grade

When the students are ready to do fractions greater than a whole, you can do these same activities by marking the lines with 0,1 and 2 for the wholes. I would do this before moving on to paper and pencil practice.


Now that the kids have used manipulatives and the interactive number line, they are ready to move on to practicing on paper. I like to use task cards for this step.

One way you can use the task cards is to conduct a “math hunt”. Tape the cards around the room. Give students a recording sheet and have them “hunt” the questions. They can work independently or with a partner.

When most of the class has completed the task cards, review them as a whole group. This is a great time to clear up any misconceptions or misunderstandings.

Your students will eventually get to a place where they’re understanding fractions on a number line. It will just take some time and a lot of hands-on practice. Give these activities a try!

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Funmi Ajala

    Very lovely and easy to understand.Thanks so much.

    1. Marlene

      You’re welcome Ajala! Glad it was helpful.

    1. Marlene

      You’re so welcome Nancy! Thank you for the feedback!

  2. Tracey

    What a simple and practical way to teach fractions on a number line. Can’t wait to use it!

    1. Marlene

      Thanks Tracey! I’d love to hear how it goes when you try them!

  3. Angela Ellis

    I enjoyed this so much! Thank you!!!!

    1. Marlene

      You’re welcome Angela! Thanks for being here!

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