Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fraction Circles

I cannot tell you how many hours youngest dd has spent through the years with our Lauri Fit-A-Fraction Circles.  They are oversized foam circles cut into the normal fractions such as 1/2, 1/3 and so on.  Each one is a different color.  I couldn't find them anywhere online; this was the closest by Lauri that I could find.

The other fraction material that has been used over and over (but not quite as much; which would be impossible) are the rainbow fraction circles from Learning Resources.  I only had the set for the overhead that I used as a classroom teacher but it didn't seem to bother the dc so I never bought a different set.  For some reason the overhead ones are a bit cheaper here.  Unfortunately they don't fit the Montessori material to measure degrees or percentage such as these :(.  I had gotten the Montessori plates last summer when a school was closing but they won't work for me so I guess I'll be selling them.  BUT these other ones will be perfect and I look forward to using them:  Rainbow Fraction Rings also by Learning Resources.  I'm not finding any online (I'm looking at an old LR catalog) but I found these "Measuring Rings" at Rainbow Resources (out of stock right now).  Nasco has some fraction rings but I couldn't find a description telling the inside diameter of the circles so I can't recommend them.  Surely a local teacher store will have a set I can use, right?

Another fraction work favorite:  Hamburger Station.  It's homemade and not even close to professional looking :) but the dc enjoy it.  Each player has a set of the following circles:  2 brown, 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 red, 1 dark brown (and probably more that I can't remember).  The 2 browns are wholes and they are the bread.  The others are something like green (lettuce) is cut into 1/2; yellow (mustard) is cut into 1/3; red (ketchup) into 1/4; dark brown (meat) into 1/6 - whatever you decide.  There is a spinner with the fractions on it.  As they spin they build their hamburger by collecting fractions from their own set.

There are lots of hands-on ways to teach fractions, but I love how Montessori takes things through to abstraction.  We never made it through the fractions album with the olders but I have it on hand for youngest dd.  Here are lots of ideas for fraction manipulatives:
Search Toys&Games for fractions

Some Montessori fraction links:

This has pictures of some Mont fraction materials (I was so thrilled to see my blog on her favorites - Mil Gracias).  How I would love to get my hands on one of those boxes with activities to use with the fraction circles :):

And totally unrelated:

I ran across this site with recipes for homemade hand lotion, etc.  I use plain coconut oil for lotion, face cream, and so on (and on!) but this site looks fun to explore:


  1. hi, I am really enjoying your blog!
    I was wondering if you could give me a hand on explaining/showing the concept of turning 2 and 2/3s into a fraction (and vice versa)
    as well as explaing how to add or subtract fractions that dont have common denomenators.
    Id appreciate either a link or an explanation, thanks!
    actually, I can take these questions to the list Playschool6 if you prefer!
    thanks again,melissa

  2. Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for your comment and encouragement! Just off the top of my head: I would make the whole number 2 using fraction circles of 1/3; so 2 circles made of thirds. Since I only have 1 set of fraction circles personally I would just print out some 1/3 circle fractions on colored paper or cardstock for the demo (matching my thirds if possible). Then next to it I would also form the 2/3 with the fraction circles. I would write 2-2/3 and then I would count out how many thirds and write 8/3. Does that make sense?

    A more abstract way (after the above) would be to look at the relationship between the 6, 2, and 3 of the six more you added, the 2 wholes, and the 3 pieces. What I'm getting at is that 3 pieces each times 2 wholes will give the number to add to the numerator.

    For the reverse it's just a matter of getting the pieces (8 thirds) and seeing how many wholes can be made with it and writing it as a mixed number.

    I'll try to look up the official R and D presentations in my manual and see if I'm even close, lol! That's what I would do, though.

    Here is a template to print on colored paper/cardstock:

  3. Hi Beth, for the fractions, and converting etc, I head for the kitchen! I halve, double, or triple recipes on a regular basis, sometimes just to get my kids 'thinking in fractions'. I'm a big one for saying things like "the recipe calls for 1 1/3 c of flour, but we are doubling it, so we need....? hopefully they answer 'we need 2 2/3 cups of flour'...that's when I pull out the 'snafu' and say 'but I only have a 1/3 measuring cup clean. How many scoops will we need with the 1/3 cup to get 2 2/3 cups?"
    For fractions without common denominators, I found wooden fraction circles that went up to 12ths and just let my kids play with them (sort of like the knobbed cylinders) and they naturally came up with relationships between the various fractions. Later, when we had to do a more abstract version, they just 'got it' ad if they had trouble, I just got out the fraction circles. If I can find the company I got them from, I will post it....

  4. Hi Juliette,

    Thanks so much for joining in about cooking! I completely left that out and it's such an important aspect of teaching fractions. We are constantly doubling or halving recipes. It prepares them for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions. Plus it's good to teach ratios (and science!).

    Do your fraction circles have knobs? Our youngest has been using our big ones since she was about 1 or 2 yrs old and loves stacking them to make cakes (and sell them in her pretend store) and inevitably creates equivalent fractions. I like the knobbed ones like the Montessori fraction circles but then you can't stack them for equivalent fractions. Having both would be a luxury!

    I was bummed that our closest teacher store didn't have what I needed.

    Love your 'snafu' :)