7 Ways to Help Students Practice Adding & Subtracting Rational Numbers

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Back when I taught 7th grade, I remember students approaching me with a sense of dread about adding and subtracting rational numbers. They'd get overwhelmed, and honestly, who could blame them? We're talking about a jumble of integers, decimals, and fractions, all of which could be either positive or negative.

It's a lot for young minds to keep straight.

But mastering these rational number operations is a foundational skill that they will see over and over again in topics like equations and expressions in addition to being important in everyday life. Thankfully, there's no shortage of fun and interactive ways to help students grasp these important skills.

Here's my 7 favorite activities for teaching and practicing this.

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Adding & Subtracting Rational Numbers Guided Notes

I love these guided notes & doodles because they include guided notes, practice, and real life applications. Plus, they contain places for students to doodle, sketch and color as they learn. There's color by number and mazes for practice, which I love to assign as homework or in-class practice for the next day. And they're no-prep, printable PDF worksheets you can print and use in minutes.

For more step-by-step ideas of how to implement this in your classroom, see my lesson plans for adding and subtracting rational numbers.

Adding & Subtracting Rational Numbers Digital Pixel Art - Fall Themed Math

Digital pixel art is one of my favorite tools to build mastery and differentiate.

This set includes two autumn-themed pixel art Google Sheets covering adding and subtracting rational numbers. Perfect for fall, back to school, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, I like to use this for review lessons, fast finishers, math centers, extra credit, extensions, and independent practice.

I also use pixel art activities as sub plans because it's self checking in Google Sheets, with each correct answer revealing part of a mystery image. Substitute teachers always thank me for leaving pixel art as sub plans because it's easy to manage the class.

Adding & Subtracting Rational Numbers Digital Pixel Art - Winter Themed Math

But, what if you're teaching your rational numbers unit a little later in the year, and you need some practice that's more winter themed?

This holiday-themed digital pixel art Google Sheet is perfect for Christmas, winter, and January. Each correct answer reveals part of reindeer and gingerbread house images, and really gets the kids excited during the holidays.

Adding & Subtracting Rational Numbers Doodle Math - Twist on Color by Number

Do your students love to doodle like mine? This Doodle Math activity incorporates art with math. It's a fresh twist on color by number or color by code activities you've tried in the past. With each answer, students unlock doodle patterns to fill in an image.

These zero prep printable worksheets can are great for emergency sub plans, math centers, independent practice, review, and homework. Includes multiple levels.

Nearpod: Addition & Subtraction of Rational Numbers

Nearpod's interactive lessons have always been a hit with my students. The interactive features and immediate feedback helps students learn faster, and makes math feel a little bit more fun.

The Nearpod team made this activity, Addition & Subtraction of Rational Numbers, which focuses on representing addition and subtraction on a horizontal or vertical number line diagram, allowing students to visualize the operations.

Khan Academy: Adding & Subtracting Rational Numbers

We've all relied on Khan Academy's video lessons at some point or another.

This digital activity allows students to practice adding and subtracting rational numbers through calculation problems. Students get immediate feedback on their answer can track their progress, and repeat problems until they understand rational number addition and subtraction.

MathGames.com: Add & Subtract Rational Numbers

What student doesn't love video games? MathGames.com has a wealth of games to practice math skills. Their Add and Subtract Rational Numbers activity allows students to solve a series of calculation problems involving rational numbers, including fractions and decimals.

What Are Your Favorites?

I hope you found at least one activity that you can implement in your class. If you have other favorite ones, email me. I'd love to connect.

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Hi, I'm Ping!

I spent 7 years in the classroom working to make math fun and relevant in middle school, by integrating math, art, and technology. I started Congruent Math to share this all with you.

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