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Number lines explained

A number line is a continuous line representing numbers. It is a visual image which will help children to understand our number system.

It can be used from Reception Year upwards, and helps teach addition and subtraction and reinforce numbers and counting.

Reception Year number line

reception number line

Year 1 number line

At this stage, a child needs to be able to count on or back in ones or 10s.

Year 1 number line

Year 2 number line

When using a number line, Year 2 children will have had a good deal of experience and practice and will have a mental image of numbers to 50. Teachers will start to use unstructured lines (ie not all the numbers are marked and labelled) to support counting and calculations (this will of course depend on the child’s ability).


Year 2 number line

Year 3 number line

In Year 3, children use both a structured number line and an empty one. The structured number line is an important image to help children develop mental methods for addition and subtraction.

Number line



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Last updated: over 3 years ago