This little gadget on Mathisfun.com is so illuminating for teaching decimals. I always get a positive response from students when I show it.

I think it can be used it in a number of ways:

Predict what happens when I zoom in. As you zoom in, first the tick marks appear and then at the next level of zoom, numbers start appearing. It’s a great way of “bridging” from the familiar to the new. A number line is likely to be a familiar concept. However, what is “in between” 0 and 1? An intentionally ambiguous question. Students are likely to say “half” or 0.5. How else can we show half? What other numbers are in between 0 and 1?

Why are there 10 ticks between 0 and 1? We have divided 1 into 10 equal parts, what is each part. How else can we represent 1/10?

From there we “zoom” into the next level of hundredths

This table might be useful as some practice to relate fractions to decimals. I would love to hear some comments on this.