Number lines are simple tools that pack a big punch. When kids are beginning to learn number order, and how far apart one number is from another, a number line can be a really big help.
We adults are used to knowing the relationships between numbers, but young kids haven't had enough experience to be able to do this. They are still experimenting with numbers, and a number line can help them visualize the number sequence as they solve math problems.
Kindergarteners generally stick to a 1-10 number line, and 1-20 is usually sufficient for first grade. By second grade, kids are working with numbers 1-100 and will need math tools that reflect this.
There are all kinds of number lines to fit your child's learning style. Here are a few to get you started:
Giant number line mats are perfect for active kids, and jumping from number to number makes a "school activity" feel like a game. If your child learns by touching and moving around, this is a great choice.
Magnetic number lines can be posted up on the fridge or a magnetic white board, and have magnet squares you can move from number to number. This one comes in segments, so you can start with 1-20 and move up to 100 when you are ready.
Number line slider boards are another great alternative for kinesthetic learners. These are sturdy, and kids love "playing" with them. They are also nice and compact for storing--this set of 10 is great for a class center.
Write on/wipe off number line is a practical choice for desk work, especially if your space--or budget--is limited. This one goes from 0-25.
To get you started right away, you are welcome to download these free printable 0-10 and 0-20 number lines.
Be sure to check out these free Number Line Games.
For something a bit longer-lasting or more suited to your child's needs, I recommend the
step-by-step number line,
the magnetic number line,
or the one I'm lusting after, the number line math activity chart.