Fraction games and manipulatives give children opportunities to play and gain fraction number sense.
The more time children have to play with fraction toys and blocks, the more their ability to visualize fractions as equal parts of a whole will increase.
How to teach fraction number sense...
- Resist the temptation to teach preschool and kindergarten math with worksheets rather than hands on math manipulatives.
- The concept of equivalent fractions will come with time if children have plenty of hands on play activities such as the ones below. Older children struggling with fraction concepts have often not had enough hands on investigations with fraction manipulatives.
- Playing fraction games will increase the children's understanding that a fraction piece is a part of an equal number of pieces that creates a whole object.
Easy Fraction Games
Depending on your class size you may need to split the class into groups, having one half working at independent math centers with modeling clay, drawing, blocks or puzzles and the other half working with the teacher led math activity.
1. Fill the circle game
The purpose of this fraction game is to introduce fraction terms and increase the children's ability to visualize fraction pieces relative to a whole object.
- One or two sets of Foam Fraction Circlesor any color-coded foam fraction circle sets depending on number of children (remove the whole circle)
- For each child: one whole cardboard circle the same size as the whole circle in the set (trace one then cut a pile at a time from lightweight card)
- Teacher turns over a number card between 2 and 8, and places it on the carpet (depends on students' abilities)
- Children choose that many of any size pieces, place the pieces on their circle and see how they fit
- All the children observe each others circles and observe which shapes filled most, all, or more than all of the circles and which shapes filled less of the circles
- Teacher uses fraction terms when discussing the game results (E.G. Joey used a one third piece and 3 of the one twelfth pieces, Sarah used 1 of the third pieces and 3 of the one eighth pieces)
2. Complete a circle game
The purpose of this fraction game is to introduce children to the fraction terms, not to have them memorize them and to help children to develop fraction number sense.
- Foam Magnetic Fraction Circlesor any color-coded foam fraction circle set
- One lightweight card cut out of each shape (easy to make by placing one of each shape on the photocopier and then cutting the shapes out).
- Cloth or paper bag
- Number cards with digits from 2 - 5
- Place the cardboard shapes in a bag.
- Place one of each foam shape on the carpet with ample room between them.
- Stack the number cards upside down on the carpet.
- Distribute all the pieces from a fraction circle kit to the children. If you have a small group give children 2 or 3 pieces each.
- Pull a cardboard shape from the bag, show the children and call its name. All kids with that piece hold their piece up. Return the cardboard shape to the bag.
- Turn a number card over. E.G. number 4. Count out the first four children sitting around the circle with that piece and have them place their shape, one at a time, on the carpet next to the same pie shape, trying to complete a circle.
- As the game continues whole circles are formed as the children have turns placing their pieces on the carpet.
- Each time a new whole circle is formed, the players cheer.
- When all the circles are complete, count together to see how many pieces of each shape make an entire circle. E.G. Let's count how many one eighth pieces it took to make a complete circle. Do not assume that young or older children will make the connection that eight one eighths completes a circle or that five one fifths completes a circle.
Fraction math manipulatives
The following toys and math manipulatives are available through Amazon.com and suitable for fraction games, math and play centers.
After demonstrating sharing with real fruit, add this set of four magnetic apples to your math center. There is one whole apple, one apple consisting of two halves, one apple consisting of 3 thirds and another apple consisting of 4 fourths.
Embedded magnets hold the color-coded pieces together. It is a useful fraction game for children to observe that putting equivalent segments together creates a whole. It includes 10 plastic pieces and an activity guide.
The apples measure 3” high each.
This wooden fraction game is painted with non toxic paint, has pegs with mechanical connections instead of glue and the pegs are large enough for smaller fingers.
The puzzle is 9 x 12 x 1 inches. As children investigate and compare the 14 pegged pieces, they increase their fraction number sense.
These math manipulatives have a dimension of 3 inches. This set has 20 color-coded magnetic pieces that are interchangeable. It has four cubes representing 1 whole, 1/2, 1/3 and 1/4 and 4 spheres representing the same. They are made of sturdy plastic with magnets embedded for safety and an activity guide is included.>
As children play with pattern blocks and investigate which pieces placed together form a whole hexagon shape, their ability to visualize halves, quarters, and thirds increases. (see image at top of page)
Tip! Give children felt squares when they play with pattern blocks. They define the children's work space and keep the blocks from sliding around.
Other fraction pages: