# Adding and Subtracting Integers {FREE Lesson!}

*Help your students make sense of adding & subtracting integers in a way that is visual & builds number sense rather than memorizing a list of rules.*

One of the most important concepts introduced in pre-algebra (or algebra) is **integer operations**. I can distinctly remember learning “the rules” and fun little tricks to remember them. But I also remember wondering *why in the world* subtracting a negative means you add! So when I saw **this method to introduce adding and subtracting integers**, I knew I had to try it.

***Please Note**: This post contains affiliate links which help support the work of this site. Read our full disclosure here.*

Understanding integers and especially how to *correctly* add, subtract, multiply and divide integers is a skill that is essential to higher level math. Unfortunately, in my experience, adding and subtracting integers is something many students struggle with all the way through high school.

When I was teaching juniors and seniors, even if they used their calculator for computations, they would still struggle and get wrong answers because they didn’t understand the concepts (*or how to correctly type them into the calculator*).

Whether students never actually understand the concept in the first place, or they simply forget or confuse the “rules,” by the time they are in high school level classes, they are relying on their calculator.

Now you might be thinking, “Who cares? Just let them use a calculator!” Well, the problem with *that* is that the calculator is not as smart as we are! If you input something incorrectly or don’t use the correct parentheses, the **calculator will get it wrong** (especially when multiplying or dividing).

Therefore, I think it’s incredibly important that students **master these skills** early on in middle school, without learning “tricks” or “rules” so that they will be more successful down the road.

And that is why I have put together this lesson on **adding and subtracting** **integers** and exploring what happens when you combine positive and negative numbers!

**Adding and Subtracting Integers with Credit/Debit Tables:**

The basis of this lesson is on representing numbers **using a +1, -1 table**. In other words, each **+1, -1 pair will equal zero**, and then the value of the table will be the ones that remain.

This will likely be **a new way of thinking about and representing numbers**, so spend time teaching and exploring the tables first. Step 1 of the lesson gives students a chance to practice “reading” them, but if it seems like there is still confusion, stop and work out more examples and have kids make up their own examples before moving on.

Step 3 begins to guide kids through what happens when you **add positive or negative ones** to the table.

This is the real “meat” of the lesson. The goal is to help them see that **adding negatives is the same as subtracting**, and **subtracting negatives is the same as adding** (*because your +1 column will now be bigger*).

I would also combine each of these examples with **a number line** to really help students see how the number changes as you add or subtract negative and positive numbers.

This lesson includes **teaching tips**, a **student hand-out** and **complete answer key**.

*Hopefully after looking at integers this way, students will have a solid understanding and tools to use to solve problems, even if they forget the “rules.”*

*If you enjoy this lesson, become a Math Geek Mama+ member and gain access to the entire library of engaging math lessons like this one, hundreds of math games and low-prep practice worksheets for grades 5-8!*

**Learn more about Math Geek Mama+ right HERE**.

*I hope you and your students find this helpful!*

### {Click HERE to go to my shop and get the Adding and Subtracting Integers lesson!}

Add if you need more practice, grab this free integer operations game!

**And if you like this lesson, try one of my other Algebra lessons:**

Not sure how to download the freebie lesson. ???

Just click the link above that says, “Click here to go to my shop to grab the free…” Then you can add to cart and checkout. It is free and it will give you the download link after checkout (as well as email you a copy).

There’s also an easy board game to teach kids the concept of positive & negative numbers. Kids go up & down the board in steps, learning how negative numbers work.

Creature Quest https://amazingwizkids.com/product/creature-quest/

We have been working on integers for over a week. My son is in 6th grade and catches on to new skills pretty quickly. He was struggling to REALLY understand the basics of subtracting and adding negative numbers. When I found this printable I immediately downloaded and printed to use. The steps Math Geek Mama uses are perfect for anyone to understand. Even though we had already begun to add and subtract integers, this printable along with Bethany’s advice, really brought the whole concept of integers home!

Thanks so much Math Geek Mama for providing awesome math resources for all ages!! I love reading your blog and watching your videos. You make everything look SO simple!