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Math > Arithmetic


Play a collaborative, embodied game in class that challenges students to estimate the position of a value on a physical numberline on the floor of the classroom.

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Created by
Tanner Higgin


A send-up of the popular board game Battleship, Battleship Numberline is a browser-based digital game that teaches students how to break down a number line using fractions, whole numbers, measurement, and decimals by putting them in command of a battleship that must predict the location of its enemy.

Battleship Numberline gives students practice with estimating the position of values on a number line, with those values representing whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and measurements. Students will gain familiarity with how to visually assess and divide a number line and will begin to draw connections between values.

It is an effective educational game that successfully embeds learning into play mechanics, and it is very accessible with little instruction or guidance needed. 

That being said, it is a relatively short experience, and does not explicitly connect what is happening with math concepts or terminology. In this regard, the game is best used as an introductory tool, refresher, or remediation supplemented by more in-depth instruction or facilitation. 

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Experience breakdown


We think Battleship Numberline is a brief and effective introduction to the basic concepts of number lines. It requires very little facilitation and should be accessible. In this sense, it serves as a good introductory activity that we think can be extended and assessed through an embodied, in-class, collaborative game that replicates the game in physical space.

In this activity, students translate their familiarities with number lines and estimation gained through Battleship Numberline to a number line created in class. In teams, students collaboratively try to estimate the positions of values accurately and move their bodies (or help move classmates) into position, creating a fun and playful atmosphere. We've found that moving students from the digital to physical and getting them to transfer learning into new scenarios helps keep students engaged, plays to the strengths of different learners, and aids with retention.


Image Credit: Val Chan

Learning Objectives

  • Estimate the position of a number or fraction on the number line.
  • Give directions (greater than/smaller than) to help other students locate numbers on the number line.


The following two games are similar with a few key differences. The first, Leading the Blind, spotlights each group and has the added challenge (and fun) of guiding a blindfolded team member to the right position. The second, Place Your Bets, allows all groups to be active at once (instead of watching as other groups make their moves, as in Leading the Blind) and features an exciting, and more competitive, reveal of the correct answer.

Option One: Leading the Blind

Step One: Students play Battleship Numberline in class or as homework to become familiar with number lines.

Step Two: Create a measured number line in your classroom or outside and cover it up. Leave the first and last numbers on the line visible.

Step Three: Break students up into groups and give them each a blindfold.

Step Four: Present a number, fraction, or decimal to one group, and have them blindfold one group member and place him/her on the number line (this role may be rotated throughout play).

Step Five: Instruct the group to instruct, using only their voices (no physical contact), the student where to move on the line. (Note: You may want to set a time limit and project the timer for all to see.)

Step Six: Once positioned, reveal the number line and give the group a score.  

Step Seven: Move on to subsequent groups while keeping score.

Option Two: Place Your Bets

Step One: Students play Battleship Numberline in class or as homework to become familiar with number lines.

Step Two: Create a measured number line in your classroom or outside and cover it up. Leave the first and last numbers on the line visible.

Step Three: Divide students into pairs or small groups.

Step Four: Present a different value to each pair/group (so they are not crammed into one area of the number line) and have each pair/group place a token on the number line where they think the value resides.

Step Five: Once all tokens are placed, reveal the number line and award scores based on proximity to target.


Common Core - Mathematics

Measurement & Data
Grade 2: Relate addition and subtraction to length.
CCSS.Math.Content.2.MD.B.6 Represent whole numbers as lengths from 0 on a number line diagram with equally spaced points corresponding to the numbers 0, 1, 2, ..., and represent whole-number sums and differences within 100 on a number line diagram.
Number & Operations - fractions
Grade 3: Develop understanding of fractions as numbers.
CCSS.Math.Content.3.NF.A.2 Understand a fraction as a number on the number line; represent fractions on a number line diagram.
CCSS.Math.Content.3.NF.A.3 Explain equivalence of fractions in special cases, and compare fractions by reasoning about their size.
ratios & proportional relationships
Grade 6: Understand ratio concepts and use ratio reasoning to solve problems.
CCSS.Math.Content.6.RP.A.3c Find a percent of a quantity as a rate per 100 (e.g., 30% of a quantity means 30/100 times the quantity); solve problems involving finding the whole, given a part and the percent.

Grade 7: Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems.
CCSS.Math.Content.7.RP.A.3 Use proportional relationships to solve multistep ratio and percent problems. Examples: simple interest, tax, markups and markdowns, gratuities and commissions, fees, percent increase and decrease, percent error.
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