Negative numbers

Home learning focus

Learn about negative numbers and how they can be identified.

This includes:

  • two videos
  • two interactive practise activities


When you count backwards from zero, you count in negative numbers, for example -1,-2 and so on. Watch this animation from KS2 Maths to find out more.

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 and 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 and 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.

Further your knowledge of negative numbers and counting sequence with this study book from Collins.

Negative numbers and counting sequences

Let ‘The Posh Pooch’ from BBC Supermovers explain negative numbers in an entertaining way, with this song and movement routine made for KS2 pupils.


Activity 1

Now you’ve got to grips with negative numbers, time to have a go at the first activity! Put the numbers in the simple-sort activity into the correct order.

Activity 2

Negative line up

Practise reading and ordering negative numbers with this fun activity from Numicon, Oxford University Press.

Negative line-up

Activity 3

An idea to try:

  • In an open space, use post-it notes to label positive and negative numbers from 10 to -10; children could be asked to separate numbers on the number line (whichever they choose, in random order,) whilst someone else records each number that they move to.

  • Afterwards, decide on which numbers were the highest and which were lowest.

  • The number scale could be changed to represent different things, eg: a thermometer, a lift, a swimming pool or a mountain. Once the children are confident, the scale could be changed to help them understand larger positive and negative numbers.

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
Play It!
Join the Super Movement!