Negative numbers

Home learning focus

Understand the position of negative numbers on a number line, as well as some contexts in which they are used (for example temperatures or money).

This lesson includes:

  • one video

  • one quiz

  • one worksheet


First let's recap the basics of negative numbers. Jerry and Albert discover negative numbers with this clips from KS2 Maths.

What are positive and negative numbers?

Any number above zero is a positive number. Positive numbers are written with no sign or a + sign in front of them. They are counted up from zero to the right on a number line.

Any number below zero is a negative number. Negative numbers are always written with a - sign in front of them. They are counted down from zero to the left on a number line.

Always look at the sign in front of a number to see if it is positive or negative.

Zero, 0, is neither positive nor negative.

Adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers

To add and subtract numbers always begin counting from zero.

When adding positive numbers, count to the right.

When subtracting positive numbers, count to the left.

Adding with negative numbers


What is -4 + 5?

To add -4 and 5, draw the starting number on a number line and count to the right when adding numbers.

So, -4 + 5 = 1

Subtracting with negative numbers


What is -2 - 2?

To subtract 2 from -2, start at -2 on a number line, then count to the left when subtracting numbers.


There are lots of fun ways to practise what you've learned about negative numbers. Here are a few you could try.

Activity 1

Negative numbers quiz

Quickly test your knowledge of negative numbers with this five question quiz.

Activity 2

Negative numbers puzzle

Take a look at this worksheet from Twinkl involving a negative number reasoning puzzle.

Negative numbers puzzle

There's more to learn

Have a look at these other resources around the BBC and the web.

Bitesize Daily lessons
KS2 Maths
Primary games
5 - 7 Maths
Primary games
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