Integer Rules Games

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Knowing how to solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems with negative and positive number is an important skill for students to learn. Use these games to help students learn and practice integer rules.

The Rules of the Game

Just like students should understand the rules for a board game before they play it, understanding the rules for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers is essential for solving mathematical problems. When students understand integer rules, it allows them to quickly decide how to work with positive and negative numbers.

Let's look at some multi-sensory games to help students learn and practice integer rules. Depending on your class, you may want to incorporate integer rules for all four mathematical operations into these games or focus on only one operation and its inverse, such as addition and subtraction or multiplication and division.

Positive or Negative Shuffle


  • Chart of integer rules

Teacher Directions

  • Show the class a chart of integer rules. Discuss the combinations of positive and negative numbers for each mathematical operation and the signs their answers will yield. For example, if your students are multiplying two negative numbers or two positive numbers, their answer will be a positive.
  • Have students stand in the middle of the classroom.
  • Designate one side of the room as 'positive' and the other side as 'negative'.
  • Tell students that you will give them a combination of numbers and a mathematical operation, and they will have to figure out if the answer will be positive or negative. Students will move to the side of the room that designates the correct answer. For example, you might ask, ''What will the sign of the answer be if a positive and negative number are added and the positive number is greater?'' and students should move to the 'positive' side of the room.
  • Consider giving students different ways to move around the room such as jumping, crab walking, or frog-hopping to the correct side.

Discussion Questions

  • What is the most difficult integer rule for you to remember? Why?
  • Why is it important to know how work with both positive and negative integers?

Playing Card Problems


  • Chart of integer rules
  • Playing cards (numbers 2-10)
  • Coins
  • Dry-erase boards
  • Dry-erase markers

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