Teaching fractions in third grade is one of my favorite times of the year, but it can also be REALLY hard! Moving on from unit fractions to understanding fractions through one whole is a huge jump, so I wanted to share some of my favorite activities and games to reinforce my lessons.
(If you haven’t checked out my post about unit fractions, make sure to do that and ensure your students have a solid understanding of them before moving onto more complex fractions.)
Teaching Fractions with Names
I did this activity back when I was in elementary school, and it never fails to get my students invested when it comes time to teach fractions (whenever you can make it about them, do it!)
I love that this activity connects the concept of unit fractions (how many letters are in your name, so what unit fraction does each letter represent?) to more complicated fractions (how many vowels are in your name, and what fraction of all letters is that?).
Bonus: This is also a great activity to highlight fractions on your class bulletin board and allow students to admire and compare one another’s names.
We’re taking a favorite game and bringing it up a few notches. (Talk about engagement!)
When teaching fractions, I like to be image-heavy in the beginning to provide concrete visual supports as students gain familiarity with naming and writing fractions. That’s why so many of the activities I use and create at this stage rely heavily on visuals too. Fraction Tic-Tac-Toe is no different!
How to play? This is a partner game, and students take turns drawing from the deck of cards. Each card has a visual representation of a fraction. Students then match that visual to one of the corresponding written fractions on the game board. When a student gets three-in-a-row on one of the four boards, that board is closed and students must focus on the remaining three. Once all four boards are closed, the player with the most closes wins.
It’s a serious favorite, and one I HIGHLY recommend, especially for your students who may need more experience with matching visuals with written fractions.
Spin & Cover
This is is one of the first activities I introduce after teaching unit fractions. I created it in order to really focus on halves, thirds, and fourths. For many students, baby steps are needed to really understand how to discuss equal parts and how many. It helps to narrow it down and introduce the fractions slowly.
Spin & Cover activity can be used as a partner game or for independent practice. With partner games, students take turns spinning and covering, and whoever covers the most wins!
Teaching Fractions with Dominoes
I love regular dominoes, so any time I can play AND cover core content is a HUGE win! I also love that dominoes can be done independently, with a partner, or as a small group. It makes planning for math centers so much easier because of its flexibility (no more issues when a student leaves or joins a center).
Capture A Whole
These next two games work to help students put fractions together to create a whole. Capture A Whole is the easier of the two, so best to start here when teaching fractions.
I love that this game works with a familiar manipulative- pattern blocks. It allows students to build on that familiarity and use it to make connections about fractions and wholes.
This game is also fun because it takes a little strategy, which helps keep students engaged! I like to use a recording sheet for two reasons:
- Allows me to see their thinking and understanding, even if I can’t be right there working with them.
- Helps students remain focused and holds them accountable to their work.
Make a Whole
This game is a step up from Capture A Whole. It removes the visuals (although you can always scaffold with manipulatives like fraction circles or fraction bars) and has students start thinking about how to make a whole when given a single fraction.
Like most games and activities I create, I love having multiple versions available for differentiation. This game has 3 versions that increase in difficulty, but all look the same. I really enjoy the flexibility options give me for teaching fractions. I also like allowing my students to play a version that supports their current understanding without causing concerned that their game looks different than their peers. #winning!
I hope these activities and games have helped spark some new ideas that you can use as you introduce fractions to your students!
These are only some of my favorite fraction games and activities that I’ve included in my Fraction Mega Pack. This resource isn’t called a mega pack for nothing! It is nearly 400 pages of ALL of my favorite games to teach fractions in third grade. Click HERE to check it out!