A Mathematical Clothesline is a great visual tool to support students in reasoning proportionally with numbers. Students can work cooperatively to place a set of concept cards (various representations of number) on the line in a position that makes sense proportionally. As students place the cards on the line they need to consider the card they have, the cards left to position, and any benchmark numbers (numbers that assist in estimation and tend to be multiples of 5 or 10) that are already present. Mathematical Clotheslines differ from a formal number line in that cards are not placed in a measured and scaled sequence, but simply displayed in a specific order.
I have seen many clothes line activities online in recent months but only recently this activity for younger students. Janice Novakowski recently created this post which inspired me to explore her idea to use this tool with younger students. I expanded on her idea by adding in number words in English and French as indicated by our grade one curriculum outcome. I have also created a fraction version.
In both of the Mathematical Clotheslines below students have multiple representations of numbers to work with. Not all representations need to be introduced and used at the same time. As students expand on their understanding of different ways to represent numbers and fractions pictorially more and more representations can be added to the activity and become a topic of discussion in the classroom.