TES Top 10 Resources: Negative Numbers

The following collection of resources have been assembled by the TES Maths Panel. They can be downloaded for free by registering on the TES website.

Collection author: Colleen Young, maths secondary panel member


Many students have misconceptions concerning negative numbers, a variety of approaches in teaching is important. Different explanations and demonstrations appeal to different students within a class. This collection includes various resource types, some requiring IT, others that require few resources. Also included are resources which students could use themselves and would be useful on the school virtual learning environment or any other means of providing students with resources they could use themselves such as a wiki.

Top 10 Resources

1. Sumdog: Subtracting positive and negative numbers 

Age Range: 11 – 14

Format: Web/PDF/Word

Sumdog offers great games to practise subtracting positive and negative numbers. Very clear instructions are given in the lesson plan for teachers and for students in the handout.

2. Evaluating directed number statements 

Age Range: 11 – 16

Format: PDF

An outstanding activity from the DfE Standards Unit that really makes students think about operations with negative numbers. ‘If you add a negative number and a positive number you get a positive answer’. Is that always, sometimes or never true? There are several such statements for students to think about. As with all the activities in this series, comprehensive teachers’ notes are provided offering guidance on starting the session, resources required, how the activity could be used in the classroom, extending the work and what learners might do next.

3. Negative numbers cauldron (with Severus Snape)

Age Range: 11 – 16

Format: PowerPoint

This beautifully illustrated and very clear resource talks through some examples of calculating with simple addition and subtraction of negative numbers using ice cubes and fire cubes. Questions for students to try are included. The final page suggests exercises from the MEP materials. A set of MEP resources for negative numbers are described in the next section.

4. Negative numbers (MEP – Year 7 – Unit 15)

Age Range: 11 – 14

Format: PDF

If I ever want a few more examples then I know I will find some from CIMT who offer not just their textbook chapters but activities often investigative in nature, mental tests on the topic, assessments and teachers notes and slides.

5. Arithmagons

Age Range: 11 – 14

Format: Web

Nrich offer several excellent interactive including these on arithmagons which can be used for many operations including with negative numbers. Using the second interactive on the second web page given in this resource at level 3 gives problems including negative numbers. Such problems could simply be written on the board if needed.

6. Number pyramids

Age Range: 11 – 14

Format: Web/PDFWord

Another resource from Nrich, number pyramids offer an opportunity for thinking about negative numbers. What numbers placed on the bottom left generate a pyramid of all negative numbers?

7. Bingo – Negative numbers (four operations) 

Age Range: 11 – 16

Format: Excel

An Excel spreadsheet offering a Bingo game with questions on negative numbers. The spreadsheet includes the Bingo cards, the questions and a worksheet with a clear display of the questions for the interactive whiteboard. Like several of the resources here the ideas used in the activity could be used without access to IT.

8. Maths Vegas! Negative numbers

Age Range: 11 – 16

Format: PowerPoint

This resource offers a game which would be fun as well as very useful revision of negative numbers once students are familiar with all the operations. The resource has an excellent mix of question types.

9. Notes – Number – 8. Negative Numbers
Negative Numbers lesson plan
Directed Number Practice – Self-marking worksheet

Age Range: 11 – 16

Format: PowerPoint, Excel

My excuse for including three resources here is that all of these could be provided for students to support their studies. Craig Barton has written pupil friendly notes on numerous topics. I have provided links to these on our school VLE and I know many of my students find them really helpful and choose to use them for revision. In this resource the notes on negative numbers have been converted the notes to PowerPoint slides so they could be download and adapted if required. The PowerPoint could be used by teachers to demonstrate the notes to students.

The excellent spreadsheet from Hwb Welsh Government can be used to generate a never ending supply of questions and answers on the four operations using negative numbers. Solutions are marked when entered.

The self-marking worksheet is another high quality spreadsheet offering as much practise as students want. Several options are provided; practise just one operation or a mixture.

10. Ping Pong 

Age Range: 11 – 16

Format: Word

We’ll end with a game of ping pong! This is a simple idea which could be used for many topics and requires no resources. A rule is chosen by the leader who then ‘hits’ a number to a chosen child, the pupil has to ‘hit’ back the appropriate number. Any operation with negative numbers could be used in this activity.

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