Clothesline Math Teaching Strategy for ANY Grade and ANY Math Concept

Sunday, 11 February 2018
Have you heard of the clothesline strategy for teaching math concepts? I read about it last year and have been using it in my classroom ever since. The beauty of this math strategy is that you can use it with ANY grade and for just about any math concept. It's perfect for use in a number talk.

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In the picture above I have a double clothesline set up so that students can move the picture of the fraction to match the fraction. They also have to put them in order from least to greatest. I used this as a number talk one day before my lesson.


The first time I read about this the ideas immediately started swimming around. There are so many uses for this. 2D shapes? You could order them by their properties. Teaching your students how to count? Get them to reorder the numbers. If you have a younger grade you use smaller numbers, older grades? Use bigger numbers or decimals.

One of the best things about this strategy is that students use higher order thinking skills.

You don't have to use 2 clotheslines like I did in the image above. You can just use one if that is what works for the concept you're teaching. When I was teaching my students about ordering decimals we just used one clothes line.

The clotheslines provides a great visual and interactive tool for students to manipulate numbers, shapes, etc.

How to Set Up Your Math Clothesline:


It's really quite simple. You need some string or yarn and then you can string it across your board. I clip mine onto the chart paper hooks if I don't need students moving the pieces but when I want the students to use it then I attach the strings to magnets. These are the ones I use:  CLICK HERE

I use cardstock pieces folded in half  to write the numbers or draw shapes on.

TIP: You can maximize the card stock by using the inside as well. I have other numbers or shapes drawn on the inside so if I want to do another activity I just fold the cardstock the other way. You can also use the back of the cardstock.


What other ways can you think of to use this strategy? Post them in the comments below!

If you want to checkout more about math clotheslines you can visit the Estimation180 website where I first learned about this strategy. It's one of my favorite sites for math talks.

If you're looking for digital math resources you can check those out here.