Our home has a split entry, with stairs going up from the front door to the main floor or down to the basement. We used these stairs today for a fun math activity: exploring addition and subtraction with positive and negative integers.
We numbered the stairs, starting with 0 for the entryway landing and using positive numbers for the stairs leading to the main floor and negative numbers for the stairs leading down to the basement. I made two dice out of colored cube blocks (more fun than small dice); one had the numbers 1-6 and the other had a + or – sign on each face–three of each. The children rolled both dice then went up or down the number of steps indicated. The goal was to get to either the top or the bottom of the stairs.
I wasn’t sure how long this game would hold their attention. It lasted longer than I expected: each time a child arrived at a “goal”, they wanted to start back at zero on the landing and see where they would go next. Jumping spider made it to the top of the stairs and set his sights on getting to the bottom–he wouldn’t stop playing until he got there. I finally had to modify the +/- die behind his back (I added extra – signs) so he could reach his goal, because everyone else had stopped playing and wanted to move on!
We’ve played a similar game before with a super-sized number line drawn on the sidewalk with chalk.