Whole Numbers: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Joy Blake

Joy has been a teacher for over ten years. She has primarily taught Middle School Math and has a Master's degree in Educational Leadership.

Numbers are everywhere in our world. Learn about whole numbers by completing this math lesson. We'll explore what a whole number is and how we use these types of numbers in our everyday lives.

What Are Whole Numbers?

Whole numbers are the combination of positive numbers and zero. When you put the number zero with all the counting numbers (e.g., 0, 1, 2, 3, 4…), you create whole numbers. Whole numbers can continue until infinity, or without end.

Whole numbers start at zero and go on until infinity

Whole numbers cannot be negative. Also, a whole number cannot be a fraction or a decimal. If you're looking at a number line, all the numbers starting at zero and going to the right are whole numbers.

Whole numbers move to right on a number line.

Let's look at an example.

How Does Fruit Relate to Whole Numbers?

Lawrence loves oranges. He is headed to the grocery store to buy some. He buys four oranges that are 85 cents a pound. One orange out of the four (or one-fourth, also written as ¼, of the oranges) is a lot larger than the rest and super juicy. None of them are unripe.

When Lawrence is at home enjoying his favorite fruit, he thinks of all the numbers he encountered while he was at the grocery store. He encountered the numbers 4 (the number of oranges he bought), ¼ (the number of oranges that were big and juicy), 0.85 (the cost of oranges per pound), and 0 (the number of oranges that were unripe). Lawrence begins to wonder if all these numbers are the same, or if they fall under different categories.

He realizes that there are different types of numbers just like there are different types of citrus fruit. Oranges, grapefruits, and limes are all different types of citrus fruit. But a lime doesn't taste or even look the same as an orange even though they are both considered citrus fruit.

When Lawrence bought 4 oranges, the number 4 is the type of number we call a whole number because it is positive; it is not a negative number, a fraction, or a decimal. The number of unripe oranges, 0, is also a whole number.

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