ALEX Learning Activity

Adding Integers Using Two-Color Counters

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Kimberly Dockery
System:Alabama Department of Education
School:Alabama Department of Education
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2705
Adding Integers Using Two-Color Counters
Digital Tool/Resource:
Didix Two Color Counters
Web Address – URL:

In this introductory activity, students will use two-color counters to explore adding integers. Students will also develop a working definition of the additive inverse. Using online two-color counters, students will discover algorithms for adding integers. Finally, students will develop addition integer rules based on the solutions to the mathematical sentences modeled using the two-color counters.

Adding Integers Using Two-Color Counters Student Response Page

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 7
6) Create and organize algorithms in order to automate a process efficiently.

Example: Set of recipes (algorithms) for preparing a complete meal.

MA2019 (2019)
Grade: 7
4. Apply and extend knowledge of operations of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals to add, subtract, multiply, and divide rational numbers including integers, signed fractions, and decimals.

a. Identify and explain situations where the sum of opposite quantities is 0 and opposite quantities are defined as additive inverses.

b. Interpret the sum of two or more rational numbers, by using a number line and in real-world contexts.

c. Explain subtraction of rational numbers as addition of additive inverses.

d. Use a number line to demonstrate that the distance between two rational numbers on the number line is the absolute value of their difference, and apply this principle in real-world contexts.

e. Extend strategies of multiplication to rational numbers to develop rules for multiplying signed numbers, showing that the properties of the operations are preserved.

f. Divide integers and explain that division by zero is undefined. Interpret the quotient of integers (with a non-zero divisor) as a rational number.

g. Convert a rational number to a decimal using long division, explaining that the decimal form of a rational number terminates or eventually repeats.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
M.AAS.7.4 Add and subtract integers up to 15.

Learning Objectives:

Students will develop number sentences involving adding integers.

Students will develop a working definition of the additive inverse.

Students will use the digital tool Didix Two Color Counters to model algorithms of adding integers.

Students will discover and write addition integer rules based on model solutions.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

Students will explore adding integers using two-color counter digital manipulatives. To begin the activity learners step forward one step (+1) and backward one step (-1). This helps kinesthetic learners connect integer values to spaces on a number line in relation to zero. Next, students connect positive and negative values to two-color counters. Red counters are used to represent negative values and yellow counters are used to represent positive values. Students use this information to develop a working definition of additive inverse and create and organize algorithms (a set of rules to follow) for given problems. Using the online tool, students model number sentences using two-color counters to find the solutions to 10 addition integer problems. Answers are recorded on the “Adding Integers Using Two-Colored Counters” activity page. Next students will develop addition integer rules for the following problem types, negative + negative, positive + negative, and negative + positive. At this point, the teacher should conduct a Think-Pair-Share with the class. Each student should have a partner. Ask the students to work with their partners and compare their addition integer rules. On their activity page, they are asked to explain how their rules are alike, how they are different, and to write a statement about what they feel is important to share with the class. Allow the students to share their statements with the class and address any misconceptions students may have.

Assessment Strategies:

Assess student’s understanding by reviewing the student response page. 

The teacher will observe students using the digital tool Didix Two-Color Counters to assess organizing algorithms of adding integers.

Advanced Preparation:

Visit the Didix two-color counter online resource to become familiar with how to use the tool. 

Students will need online access to the two-colored counters manipulatives.

Copy the “Adding Integers Using Two-Colored Counters” student response page.

Variation Tips (optional):

Students can write their own number sentences to use with the counter. These problems can be exchanged with classmates to solve.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

If the online resource is not available, red and yellow construction paper squares can easily be used.

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: adding integers, addition, algorithm, Integer, integer operations, integers, models, number sentence, twocolored counters