Teaching the Number Line - Lesson and Tips (CVI)

Note: This is a guide to develop your own lessons, unit, and ideas with CVI adaptations as needed. Use it as a jumping off point. 


  • Students will be able to point to numbers on a number line1-20.
  • Students will be able to do basic addition on a number line.
  • Students will be able to do basic subtraction on the number line. 


  • Flashcards
  • Whiteboard
  • Number line to 20
  • Black background (I use black cardstock)
  • Additional items: iPad with a doodle app to write problems 

Photo of flashcard 4+7=11 and a number line on a black background.Screenshot of Hand2Mind number line with movable arrow with activities cards on Amazon for $19.24

Note: With Sadie the number line came about when it was introduced in class and I found it to be a great tool that was a little more “big kid” friendly over manipulatives and also it was easier than having the manipulatives move when we count them. 

CVI parents have told me that rote memorization of basic facts was key, but I also believe that they must also know what those memorized facts mean. IT TAKES A LOT OF TIME but it’s worth it in the long run. We build on this for our entire math life. 

Image of Sadie looking at her iPad with handwritten "4+3=" and math workbook open on the desk.Photo of an iPad with handwritten "4+1= circled 5 or 7" and four dots with 1 dot below.


See my video on the number line.
I introduced the number line formally after about a year of using manipulatives with flash cards. 

  • Point to numbers on the number line. Make sure to always start with the pointer on zero before we move it for each problem 
  • After we have practiced finding numbers on the number line and have been successful (this could take minutes to weeks), introduce basic addition: 3 + 2 = 
  • Use the same words over and over again to avoid confusion, “Starting on zero, move the 3 and then count on 2 more because 3+2=”
  • Use verbal and physical cues at first to ensure they are moving it correctly
  • Work only on addition up to10 till mastered with verbal cues
  • Start subtraction on the number line after there has been consistent success with basic addition and a subtraction lesson has already been introduced using the flashcards and manipulatives
  • Keep assessing and adapt as needed, know your student! 
  • Learn to Count math app

Sadie looking at iPad with math app showing "1+2=3" and her physical number line with the arrow moved to the 1.


Student has mastered the number line lesson when they can point to the numbers on request (make sure that the numbers are not too small and creating fatigue), display independently basic addition and subtraction on the number line successfully with only verbal cues pertaining to CVI/Visual needs. 


Other posts in this series: