Math Background

Comparing and Ordering Integers and Decimals: Tips and Tricks

  • Have students help you complete a large number line. You can omit some of the positive and negative integers and have students volunteer to write them in.
  • Have students play a game of “Where would I find blank on a number line?” Fill in the blank with various types of numbers—greater whole numbers, decimal numbers, and integers. In some cases, you may want students to locate the exact place on the number line. In other cases, you may want students to say, “6,975,364 is found to the right of zero” or “4.5 is found to the left of zero.”
  • If students have not used a number line in a while, it may be a good idea to have them first compare and order lesser positive numbers as a review.
  • Have students make their own integer number lines from 10 to +10 in 0.5 intervals; laminate the number lines and have students tape them to their desks to use when ordering integers.
  • Have students write the terms left-lesser and right-greater in the appropriate corners of their number lines.
  • Students often have difficulty with the concept of negative numbers—for example, they may not see that 10 is less than +1. Remind students to think of negative numbers in terms of temperatures. Then ask students to think, “Which temperature is greater, 10° or +1°?”
  • Give students a positive number or negative number and ask them to give you the opposite of that number. Then have a volunteer show how to find the number and its opposite on a number line.
  • Have students turn their lined paper so that the lines are vertical to help them align the decimals and digits when ordering several decimal numbers or greater numbers.

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 5