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5.1.1 Playing Fraction Tracks

5-1-1.gif  Playing Fraction Tracks  (applet)

An interactive version of a game (based on the work of Akers, Tierney, Evans, and Murray 1998) that can be used in the grades 3–5 classroom to support students' learning about fractions. By working on this activity, students have opportunities to think about how fractions are related to a unit whole, compare fractional parts of a whole, and find equivalent fractions, as discussed in the Number and Operations Standard

 

The Game 

Play the Fraction Tracks game using the interactive board below. The first player starts by moving one or more blue markers along the tracks, either forward or backward, so that the positive and negative distances moved by all markers add to the amount shown in the fraction box. When a piece is moved, an outline is shown in its starting position for that turn. Clicking on Finish Move will either let the next player take a turn if the markers correctly add to the fraction shown on the box or display an error message if the move was not correct. When a correct move has been entered, the second player then similarly moves one or more red markers. If a player cannot complete a move, a turn can be passed by clicking on the Pass button. The first player to move all his or her markers to the right side of the Fraction Tracks board wins!
 

 

 

[Stand-alone applet]

How to Use the Interactive Figure 

 First Player

  • Click on one or more blue markers along the tracks so that all the markers moved add to the total amount shown in the fraction box.
  • Click on Finish Move when done.
  • If the numbers above the markers correctly add to the fraction shown on the box, the next player can take a turn.
  • Otherwise, the game will return an error message. An outline of the markers' original positions will be visible, and the player may adjust the markers and click on Finish Move again.
  • Players who cannot complete their turn may click on the Pass button.


Second Player

  •     Follows the same rules using the red markers.


The first player to move all his or her markers to the right side of the Fraction Track board wins!

Discussion

Prior to playing this game, the game board itself should be explored. Teachers can help students understand the relationships among the fractions on the board by asking questions like "How was the game board constructed?" and "How are various tracks on the board related?" The Fraction Tracks board can be used as a visual model for comparing fractions and finding equivalent forms. For example, which fraction is larger: 2/6 or 1/4? How do the fractions 1/3 and 2/6 align on the board? Are they equivalent? How do you know?

To extend this game, students could make their own boards with different fractions, with decimals, or with a combination of decimals and fractions.

Take Time to Reflect

  • How can playing a game like Fraction Tracks help a student build understanding about the relative sizes of fractions?
  • How can playing a game like Fraction Tracks help a student build understanding about the equivalence of fractions?
  • What characteristics of the classroom environment would support students as they use a game like Fraction Tracks to help them deepen their understanding of fractions?

Reference

Akers, Joan, Cornelia Tierney, Claryce Evans, and Megan Murray. "Name That Portion: Fractions, Percents, and Decimals." A unit of the curriculum Investigations in Number, Data, and Space. Parsippany, N.J.: Dale Seymour Publications, 1998.


Also see: 

  • 5.1  Communicating About Mathematics Using Games 
    • 5.1.2  The Role of the Teacher
    • 5.1.3  Communication among Students
    • 5.1.4  Reflecting on Practice

 


 


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