Summer Game #19: Fraction of Twelve

My two youngest children were six and eight when I started schooling them together in RightStart™ Math Level B. About half way through Level D it became apparent that my older son was ready to “fly” while my younger son was ready to “camp.” When the older of the two was in Level G and the younger one was in Level E, I realized they both could use more work in fractions.

My dilemma…. what would I supplement with? I was working at a home school convention representing RightStart so I had plenty of resources to check out, but I wasn’t finding anything I wanted to use.

I remember sitting behind the table in my booth and it was slow. I picked up the Math Card Games book and started flipping through the pages. I noticed the chapter on fractions and, as I was reading the titles of the games, I realized that THIS could be my answer! I’m a little embarrassed to say that this was the first time I really looked in the game book. In the first edition of RightStart (which is what I was using then), many of the directions for the games at the early levels are in the teacher’s manual and unfortunately at that time I didn’t realize the importance of playing the games. Sure, we played the games when suggested in the teacher’s manual but that was about it.

Anyhow, I decided that we would take the first few weeks of the upcoming school year and play through the fraction games. Both boys! I didn’t start at the very beginning of the fractions chapter in the Math Card Games book since I knew they could do those games easily, but I didn’t have to go far before I found a good starting place.

We ended up spending six weeks playing through the fraction games. That is all we did for math during that period. Not only did those games help my boys become solid in their fractions, they helped ME gain a better understanding of fractions and to see the importance of playing the games.

I’ll be honest. There were a few games we were not fans of, but thankfully, there were many more we really enjoyed. Fractions of Twelve, game F10 in the Math Card Games book, is one of those games. I liked this game because it was simple, yet the concept it teaches is so important. Your child will truly understand the function of both the numerator and the denominator after playing this game. Some may even figure out the pattern!

I also like that this game is one of those games you can take with you and play anywhere. You can use whatever items you have on hand. If you are at the beach you could use shells. If you were camping you could use stones or sticks. Maybe your child loves cars – use little matchbox cars. Use Legos. Use pencils. You get the picture. You can use whatever items you want, as long as you have enough. You will need more than 12 if you want to keep the items to calculate points, however, if you don’t have more than 12, you can keep score on paper.

I am using the basic number cards for my items today.

The objective of this game is to help the child concretely understand what it means to take a fraction of a number of items. In other words, they are going to build understanding as to what numerator and denominator mean.

To start off, you will want to explain the terms denominator and numerator. The denominator, the bottom number tells us how many equal parts the unit must be divided into. A way to remember is denominator and divide both start with D. The numerator, the number above the line, tells us how many parts to take. Numerator and number both start with N.

Show the child the twelve cards and ask the player to take 1/3 of them. Ask: ”How many equal parts must we divide these cards into?” You can remind them what the denominator does (dividing the whole into equal parts), if needed. In other words, they need to divide the cards into three equal piles.

Having the child lay out the cards as shown above helps him see he needs to disperse the rest of the cards evenly into these three piles.

When finished with the division, show that the three piles each contain four cards.

To make it easier to see the groups, push the cards together so their edges touch.

Ask him to take 1/3 of the cards. Remind him that the numerator tells him how many parts to take. With 1/3, he is to take 1 of the 3 piles.

When your child understands this, he is ready to play the game.

Two to four players can play the game. This also makes a great solitaire game.

For the fraction cards, you will be using ONLY the fraction cards with halves, thirds, fourths and sixths.

Lay out 12 basic number cards in one row. The remaining basic number cards become the stock.

The first player flips over a fraction card. She then needs to put the 12 cards in equal groups based on the denominator. Because she chose 3/4, she will be laying the cards out in 4 equal groups.

Remember to push them together when putting them into groups.

She then collects the fraction of the 12 cards based on the numerator. The card was ¾, so she will collect three of the four groups, for a total of nine cards.

Replace the cards taken and the next player takes a turn.

The second player drew 1/6 so he will need to put the cards into six equal groups.

Then he collects the fraction of the 12 cards based on the numerator. One group of six gets him 2 cards.

The first player gets her turn again and she got 1/2. She puts her cards in two equal groups and takes six cards.

Restock the cards and continue playing until either stock of cards are gone.

Remember, 10 to 15 minutes of playing a math card game is equivalent to doing one worksheet. When children are enjoying what they are doing, they will retain the information better. So go have some fun playing this game!

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