Year 5

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We can find missing numbers in a sequence that includes negative numbers and numbers with decimal places

Year 5 Unit 1a

What we are learning:

  • Although we tend to associate counting with younger children, it is really important that this continues with older children so that they further develop their understanding of the number system, particularly when beginning to work with decimals and negative numbers.
  • It is important to count both forwards and backwards and to start on different numbers i.e. when counting in fours, don’t always start on a multiple of 4, instead try starting on 5 or 27, for example.
  • When counting backwards, do not stop at zero 0 any more, extend into negative numbers.
  • Refer to the numbers below zero as negative numbers, e.g. read -3 as negative 3 (not minus 3 as ‘minus’ refers to the operation of subtraction).

Activities you can do at home:

Play the ‘What comes next?’ game – a game for 2 players.
What you need: pencil and paper and pen
How to play:

1. Player 1 says (or writes down a sequence) of 5 numbers (by adding or subtracting a constant amount each time).
E.g. -21, -18, -15, -12, -9,

2. Player 2 has to work out what is happening to the numbers i.e. how to get from one number to the other and then use this to say the next three numbers in the sequence. E.g. -6, -3, 0.

3. Score a point for each correct number given and 2 bonus points for being able to explain how to get from one number in the sequence to the next E.g. Adding/increasing by 3.

4. Swap roles

5. The first player to score 20 points is the winner.

6. Extend the game by creating sequences that have numbers that are missing in different places e.g. 7, 3, , -5, -9, ,

Try using decimals in a number sequence and ask your child to continue it:
2.4, 2.6, 2.8, , ,
4.1, 4.5, 4.9, , ,

Try inserting missing numbers into a sequence with decimals:
3.5, , 4.1, , 4.7, ,
6.7, 7.4, , 8.9, ,

Ask questions like these:
How do you get from this number to the next?
What is the difference between these two numbers?
Are the numbers getting larger or smaller?
What does that tell you about what is happening each time?

Good questions to ask:

What is the next number in the sequence?
What happens to create the next number in the sequence?
What is a negative number?

If your child:

Cannot see the pattern in a sequence of numbers
Look at the ‘gap’ between the first two numbers and work out what happens to change the first number into the second. Is this the same as what happens to change the second number into the third? Keep going until you establish what the pattern is. Once you know, you can apply it to the whole sequence.

Extension Activity

Please use this activity when you think your child understands the unit of work. It will deepen and extend your child’s understanding of this unit.


Extension activity (PDF)

Extension activity answers (PDF)