Number lines. They show up a lot in your kid’s homework, don’t they?
Now, we’re going to have a little fun with the number line by solving a number line secret code.
This is a great way to get a little extra math practice at home. You’re kids will love it and if they’re anything like mine, they’ll want to do this over and over. After all, what kid doesn’t like a secret code?
This project takes a bit more prep than a lot of my other activities, but the results are worth it.
Even the kid who moans and groans over math will jump at the chance to crack the code.
Create your number line secret code
First, you want to figure out a message. You can write a little note to your child, find a quote, or even a joke.
Since we love the live-action Cinderella movie, I chose a quote from the movie for my oldest (2nd grade) and wrote a short note for my youngest (kindergarten).
I wrote the quote on a sheet of paper and then worked at assigning a number between 1 and 20 for each letter.
If you have a letter that occurs more than once, each occurrence will be the same letter. For instance, in the example above, “E” is always 4.
Next, you’ll need a number line. You can find a number line to download and print in this post.
Write your letter underneath the number it represents.
If you find that you have leftover numbers that don’t have a letter, just use letters that aren’t in your message to fill in the blanks.
Finally, it’s time to make the code. Take a separate sheet of paper and draw a space for each letter in your message. Make the spaces long enough to write a math problem underneath.
Using your quote with the numbers assigned, make a math problem for each letter.
For my kindergartner, I stuck with simple addition problems. She’s just starting to learn how to use a number line. For my 2nd grader, I used both addition and subtraction problems. Some problems were more difficult and others were quite easy.
It’s time to solve the code
Once the girls were home and my oldest had her homework finished, I showed them their secret messages. They were so eager to get to work!
My kindergartner needed a manipulative to move along her number line to find the answer. We found that LEGO Batman was perfect for the job! She worked hard at figuring out her answers and was so proud when she had cracked the code.
My second grader didn’t need much help from the number line, since she was able to do many of the problems in her head. But, every once in awhile a problem stumped her.
The girls had so much fun solving their number line secret code message. They even asked for a second set for the next afternoon. Luckily, I was able to reuse their number lines and make a new secret code based off of it.
This fun after school number line secret code activity helped with addition and subtraction, the number line, and even writing practice. It takes a little extra work to set up, but it’s definitely worth the trouble.
Please click here for Math Homework 101: How to Use a Number Line. You’ll find an explanation of the number line, it’s importance, and a downloadable number line you can save and print.
You may also like one of these math games:
Note: This post was first published, March 30, 2015. It was newly updated on August 10, 2018.