# Math Help Website: 4 Simple Strategies for Understanding Negative Numbers

This lesson is designed to offer math help online for children who are beginning to work with negative numbers.  Negative numbers tend to be a difficult concept for students to understand, because of their abstract nature.  It is easy to see a positive \$4.00, but difficult to see a negative \$4.00.  Through the process of drawing a number line, plotting points, showing the absolute value, and solving for the distance on a number line between a positive 4 and a negative 4, children develop a concrete understanding of negative numbers.  This will set them up for success as they move into adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing negative numbers.

##### Cyclical Learning Approach

I have incorporated a cyclical learning approach with math tutorial videos.  Each educational concept is introduced, then reinforced, then revisited again and again to ensure success.   Children solve word problems that teach the process of drawing number lines, plotting points, showing the absolute value, and solving for the distance between those two points on a number line.

##### I have scaffold these problems:
1. The first problem is a Watch ME.
Students should read the problem and then click on the video to watch how the problem is solved.
Students should copy the entire problem into their notebook.
2. The second problem is a WORK WITH ME.
Students should read the problem then gather all their materials, so that they can do the problem with me.
Students should play the math tutorial video and pause it when told.
Finally, Students should copy the problem down on their own paper, and solve it with me.
When the math tutorial video is complete, students should review the problem with their teacher or parent.
3. All the following problems are ON YOUR OWN.
Students should solve the problems just as they did in the first two.
Once you they completed the problem, they should watch the math tutorial video.
Students should keep their paper with them while they watch the video.
If they made a mistake, they should pause the math tutorial video and fix their mistake.
That’s the fastest way to learn!
##### Challenge 1 – Watch Me Alligator Lake

You are standing 5 feet above Alligator Lake.  There are hundreds of alligators in these dangerous waters.  Your friends Triple Dog Dare you to swim 12 feet under the surface of Alligator Lake.  Your only hope of survival is to complete the following correctly:

1. Draw a number line.  Label your starting point 8 and your end point -18.
2. Write the absolute value for both your starting point and your end point.
3. Write two inequalities for your starting point and your end point.
4. What is the distance between your starting point and your end point?

Now – Press PLAY and watch the math tutorial video below.  Then copy these strategies into your notes.

I like to give a special thanks to the photographers at freeimage.com for allowing me to use their pictures.
Lake photo by Pellinni
Alligator photo by B Smart

##### Challenge 2 – Work with MeMontana Moose

Montana Moose starts his day taking a cool drink from the dangerous waters of this lake.  The temperature at the lake is 8 degrees Celsius.  In the evening, he runs to the top of the mountains where he looks over the beautiful vista.  The temperature at the mountain top is -18 degrees Celsius.

1. Draw a number line.  Label the temperature at the lake 8 and the temperature on the mountain top -18.
2. Write the absolute value for both 8 and -18.
3. Write two inequalities for 8 and -18.
4. What is the difference between 8 and -18?

Now – Gather your materials and press PLAY.  We’ll solve this problem together while you watch the math tutorial video below.

I like to give a special thanks to the photographers at freeimage.com for allowing me to use their pictures.
Lake photo by Jack Sanders
alligator photo by Lisa Langell

##### Challenge 3 – On Your Own Reginal Ram

Reginal Ram Is up on the tippy top of that mountain hiding in the clouds.  The temperature is a brisk – 22 degrees Celsius.  Needless to say he is cold, so he scrambles down the rocky ridge to these dangerous waters where hungry cougars are always on the lookout for a tasty meal.  Reginal takes a drink of water.  The water temperature is 17 degrees Celsius.  Reginal’s only hope of survival is for you to answer the following correctly.

1. Draw a number line.  Label the temperature of the lake 17 and the temperature on the mountain top -22.
2. Write the absolute value for both 17 and -22.
3. Write two inequalities for 17 and -22.
4. What is the difference between these two temperatures?

Once you complete the problem – Hit PLAY on the math tutorial video below.  Good Luck!

I like to give a special thanks to the photographers at freeimage.com for allowing me to use their pictures.
Lake photo by Tatjana CH
Ram photo by Bill Sarver

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