Add/Subtract Rational Numbers


This lesson plan will walk your students through the process of adding and subtracting rational numbers, step-by-step. Each student will have the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned with guided and independent practice.

Included with this lesson are some adjustments or additions that you can make if you’d like, found in the “Options for Lesson” section of the Classroom Procedure page. One of the optional additions to this lesson is to have your students use cards to play games of “Integer War,” where black cards are positive and red cards are negative.


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What our Add/Subtract Rational Numbers lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Add/Subtract Rational Numbers teaches students how to add and subtract rational numbers so they can be successful in math class. Students will complete several practice problems as a part of this lesson. This lesson is for students in 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the blue box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. The supplies you will need for this lesson are crayons or colored pencils and the handouts. To prepare for this lesson ahead of time, you can gather the supplies and copy the handouts.

Options for Lesson

Included with this lesson is an “Options for Lesson” section that lists a number of suggestions for activities to add to the lesson or substitutions for the ones already in the lesson. One optional addition to this lesson is to have your students use cards to play games of “Integer War,” where black cards are positive and red cards are negative. You can also create your own deck of cards that includes fractions and decimals for students to use. Another interesting addition to the lesson is to have students create their own worksheets, modeled after the practice worksheet. Finally, you can make sure to connect the concept of ratio and how ratios are written with the concept of rational numbers in an in-depth way.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.


Add & Subtract Rational Numbers

The Add/Subtract lesson plan includes two content pages. The lesson begins by reminding students that rational numbers are any numbers that can be written as a fraction (also known as a ratio). Rational numbers are decimals that terminate or repeat, fractions, and integers. The lesson includes a helpful diagram that shows which numbers are natural, whole, integers, and more.

To add or subtract rational numbers, it’s helpful if all of them are in the same form. You add the absolute value of numbers (when adding numbers with the same sign), and the sum has the same sign as the original numbers. If adding numbers with different signs, you take the absolute value of each number and subtract the smaller value from the larger, with the sum taking the sign of the larger value. Subtraction is the same as adding a negative number.

The lesson then lists some examples of addition and subtraction problems with numbers in the same form: two integers, two decimals, and two fractions.

Some problems require you to add numbers in different forms, like a fraction and an integer. In order to solve these problems, you should change one of to match the other number.

To add or subtract fraction and integers, you might change them into improper fractions to regroup or carry. To add or subtract integers, you can change them into decimals by simply adding a decimal point and a zero to the end of the number, line up the decimal points vertically, and add or subtract. Finally, to add or subtract fractions and decimals, you should change one into the other form. It’s usually easiest to make fractions into decimals, rather than changing decimals into fractions.


The Add/Subtract Rational Numbers lesson plan includes four worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, a homework assignment, and a quiz. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.


For the activity worksheet, students will create a poster or foldable about rational numbers. The worksheet shows an example of the kind of poster they should create. Once they’re finished, they will also create a guidebook that shows how to solve three types of problems (integers and fractions, fractions and decimals, and integers and decimals) with both addition and subtraction.


The practice worksheet asks students to color in the clouds with the correct answer to each problem. Each problem lists the color that they should color in the cloud with next to the problem. For example, they should color in the cloud with the correct answer to the problem 11 + 4.09 with red. Students must show their work.


For the homework assignment, students will design a worksheet for a classmate.


This lesson includes a quiz that you can use to test students’ understanding of the lesson material. For the quiz, students will solve three problems: one that includes both integers and fractions, one that includes both fractions and decimals, and one that includes both integers and decimals.

Worksheet Answer Keys

This lesson plan includes answer keys for the practice worksheet and the quiz. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


6th Grade



State Educational Standards

None for Grade 6

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.