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How To Make a Beaded Number Line | An Effective Hands-On Strategy for 2nd Grade

Are you teaching addition and subtraction strategies in 2nd grade? One of my favorite ways to help students explore this concept in a hands-on way is by using a beaded number line. In this blog post, I’ll give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to make a beaded number line and use it with your students during your math lessons!

how to make a beaded number line

What Are Beaded Number Lines?

A beaded number line is actually one of my favorite math tools. Put simply, a beaded number line is a printable number line made with cardstock paper, a pipe cleaner, and a pony bead. 

What I love about most about this is the pony bead because students can move it around and actually manipulate the numbers that they are working with, whether they are practicing addition or subtraction. 

beaded number line

How To Make a Beaded Number Line

I prepared a class set of beaded number lines for my students to use as we begin our addition and subtraction strategies unit. You can watch the full tutorial video on my YouTube channel here.

Materials Needed to Make a Beaded Number Line

The first thing you need is a printable number line. If you own my 1st grade or 2nd grade addition and subtraction strategies guided math units, you will find these templates. The 1st grade unit has a number line to 10 and the 2nd grade unit includes a number line to 20.

If you don’t own my guided math unit, that’s okay. You can easily find printable number lines with a quick Google search. You’ll also need some pipe cleaners and pony beads.

I printed a class set of the number line printables on cardstock and laminated them for durability. 

Instructions For Making a Beaded Number Line

To make the beaded number line, add your pipe cleaner and pony bead to the number line. You can use any color of each. Take the number line and thread the pipe cleaner through one end and fold it over on the back side and secure it with heavy duty tape. 

Then, slide the first pony bead on the pipe cleaner, threading it through without pulling too tight so the cardstock doesn’t bend. Pull it tight enough so it’s straight, then, fold it over again and secure it on the back with more tape. 

You can see the pony bead easily slides back and forth, allowing students to manipulate the numbers you are using.

flip, count, and add beaded number line activity

How To Use Beaded Number Lines

Beaded number lines are super simple to use and are great for allowing students to explore basic addition and subtraction facts in a hands-on way.

For example, if a student is going to add 3 + 2, they’ll take their beaded number line and slide the pony bead to represent the number 3. Then they’ll slide it 2 spaces right to represent the other addend, showing the answer of 3 + 2 = 5.  I love using this as a tool throughout our entire addition and subtraction unit as well as all year long. 

Once our first math unit is finished, I’ll have my students add them to our math manipulative tubs so they always have them to use throughout the year. 

Turnaround Facts Activity

This hands-on math activity using dominoes and beaded number lines is one of my favorite ways to practice turnaround facts. To play, students will draw a domino and look at the dots to determine the two addends. 

For example, if the domino says 2 + 5, students will draw that domino in the blank on the recording sheet. Then, they’ll use their beaded number line to manipulate and solve for the sum. They’ll start on the number 2 and slide the bead 5 spades to show the sum is 7. 

After that, they’ll create the turnaround fact by flipping the domino and solving 5 + 2. For this fact, they’ll begin at 5 and slide their bead 2 spaces to find the sum of 7 once again. 

turnaround facts beaded number line activity

As you can see, there are so many ways to use these interactive beaded number lines throughout the year. You can grab the number line template as well as a variety of activities to practice addition and subtraction strategies using beaded number lines below. 

I’d love to know, have you ever used beaded number lines in your math class? Comment below and let me know!

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