We are in the midst of trying to nail down integers, which may not be developmentally appropriate for sixth graders, but I have to say that teaching integers with pictures has made the process a little more bearable. Does anyone else use this method? Sometimes it is called hot cubes, cold cubes, and sometimes it is played with chips.
Here's a powerpoint that explains it with chips: Illustrating Integers
I use symbols with my kids since they won't always have chips or cubes available to use in homework and state testing. I tell students to represent positive numbers with a plus sign and negative numbers with a circle.
The problem 3-5= would be illustrated like this:
A student would start by writing down 3 "+" signs since the first number in the problem is +3. Since the next value is -5, students write down 5 circles beginning by circling any + signs. The pictures with both a + and a circle cancel each other out and the symbols left alone will be the answer. Since there are 2 negative circles left alone, the answer is negative 2.
I love this!!!
There are some great internet resources to supplement an integer unit!!
Johnnie's Math Page ~interactive games
Line Jumper ~interactive activity using number lines
Math Play ~more than adding and subtracting