Today we have a guest post by Pat Fina. Pat teaches at the Cambridge Community Learning Center in Massachusetts and facilitates an online professional development course called Introduction to College Transition Math at

Tech skills:
navigating to a website; mouse skills, especially selecting an option from a menu and drag-and-dropNote to teachers: I have never had a class of students whose computer skills were at the same level. So my usual practice would be to give out some version of the activity below and allow students with good computer skills to work independently while I circulate and help the lower-level students.

Fraction Circle Game

  1. Go to this website.
  2. Click on the arrow to the right of the word Manipulatives.
  3. Put your cursor on the arrow below the words Bucket Balance. Click twice.
  4. Put your cursor on the words Fraction Circles and click once. The Fraction Circle Game pieces appear in the lower left.
  5. Put your cursor on the Fraction Circle Container (the white circle with the line from the top to the center). Hold your finger down while you drag the circle to the right to the playing area. Release your finger.
  6. Now it’s time to play. Let’s start with a simple example. Put your cursor on the fraction piece for one half. Hold your finger down while you drag the piece to the Container. When you release your finger, the piece will snap into place.
  7. Now drag and drop the fraction piece for one fourth to the container.
  8. Finally, drag and drop another piece for one fourth to the container.
  9. Now the container is full. You’ve just shown that ½ + ¼ + ¼ = 1.
  10. Write that equation on a sheet of paper and next to it, sketch a picture of the fraction circle. Try to make the picture look as much like the fraction circle on your computer screen as possible. [Hint: think of the circle as a clock, and figure out which number of the clock each line would point to, and draw your lines the same way.] Finally, label your drawing.
  11. Now drag and drop another Fraction container to the white space. Drag and drop a ½ piece to the Container. Then drag and drop a 1/3 piece to the Container.
  12. Now drag a 1/5 piece to the Container. What happened? It didn’t drop and snap into place because the piece was too large. Instead, choose the 1/6 piece and drop it into place. That one works.
  13. Now the container is full. You’ve just shown that ½ + 1/3 + 1/6 = 1.
  14. Write the equation on the paper and sketch and label the picture to match the equation.
  15. Now it’s up to you. For the rest of the session, fill Fraction Containers with pieces of different size until the each Container is completely full with no white space showing. In each case, write the equation and sketch and label an accurate picture to match it.

Have you used this activity? How did it go? Let us know in the comments or tell us about similar activities or websites you’ve used.

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