Fourth grade and fractions: name a more iconic duo.
Sure, students learn all about the basics of fractions in third grade, but fourth grade is where things really get interesting. After all, it’s here that kiddos are introduced to the concept of comparing fractions. These fractions may be alike at first, but sooner or later, it’s time to tackle the unlike fractions. Students are naturally taught multiple methods to compare them, such as using benchmark fractions, number lines, the area model, reasoning, and eventually cross multiplication. Great! Simple, right?
Maybe not so much. While these methods certainly have a place in our instruction, there is no magic wand to wave that will bestow perfect understanding upon your classroom; what it really comes down to is practice. Students must practice to become “experts” at comparing fractions–that’s what this post is all about.
Don’t stress, though! Between my previous post, “10 Ways for Students to Master Fractions,” and today’s article, you–and your students!–are bound to have fractions in the bag in short order. Read on to discover a variety of games to engage your classroom. With all this fun, your kiddos will jump for joy at the thought of comparing fractions!
Well, maybe I’m exaggerating just a tad. But a teacher can dream, right?
The 12 Comparing Fractions Games
1.) Fraction War – For this two-player game, you’ll need a deck of fraction cards (they’re easy to make, and there are plenty out there to print, if you prefer!). Split the deck evenly between each player. Then, each player turns over the top card on their deck at the same time. Students use their skills with comparing fractions to determine who has the larger fraction on his or her card. The one with the larger fraction wins and takes both cards. The play repeats with the next set of cards. Continue until there are no cards left. The winner is the person with the most cards at the end.
2.) Fraction Jeopardy – This whole-class game requires a little bit of setup, but there are plenty of templates out there to use to make it easier on you. Create a Jeopardy-style gameboard with different categories and different point values. Include questions about comparing fractions, such as “Which fraction is larger: 2/3 or 3/5?” and “order the following fractions from least to greatest: 1/2, 3/4, 5/8.”
3.) Fraction Relay – Divide your class into teams. Have each team form a line and give each team a marker to share. On your call, give each team a fraction and have them run up to the board and place the fraction on a number line where it goes, and then run back to their team and pass the marker to the next player. Continue with several players. The first team to make it through their whole line wins. Alternatively, you could have students create their own paper version of a clothesline and shirts like in my Hands-On Fraction Fun Activity.
4.) Fraction Pizza – Divvy your class into several groups at your discretion. Give each group a construction paper pizza that you have divided into variously-sized slices ahead of time. Students will be comparing fractions by identifying which slice is the largest fraction, etc. Have students put the slices in order from largest to smallest.
5.) Fraction Fishing – Create a set of construction paper fish with different fractions written on them and attach paper clips to them. Tie a string to a dowel or a stick and attach a magnet to the end of the string. Spread out the fish and have students “fish” for fractions. As they catch fish, they should be comparing the fractions on each one.
6.) Fraction Hopscotch – Draw a hopscotch grid outside on the school playground. Write a different fraction inside each box. Have students play the game like normal and compare the fractions as they play. To make it more challenging, you can create multiple hopscotch grids and divide your class into groups. Then, explain to students that in order to hop to the next space, they have to correctly identify the fraction as being larger or smaller than the one before it. If they are incorrect, they must go to the back of the line of their group. The first group to have all of their players finish the hopscotch wins.
7.) Fraction Memory – Create a set of cards with fractions on them. Place the cards face down and take turns flipping over two cards at a time. If the first card you flip is larger than the second card, you get to keep the set. If the first card you flip is smaller, flip it back and your turn is over.
8.) Fraction Jenga – Write different fractions on the blocks of the Jenga set. Students take turns removing blocks and stacking them on top while comparing fractions as they move. Jennifer Findley has a free Fraction Jenga game you may want to check out that covers several fraction skills.
9.) Fraction Balloon Pop – Blow up several balloons and, before tying them up, place a piece of paper with a fraction on it inside the balloon. Then tie the balloon. Next, have the students take turns popping two balloons at a time and comparing fractions they get from inside the balloons. Alternatively, you could have each student pop one balloon and compare their number to the previous balloon. (You may want to warn nearby classrooms beforehand!)
10.) Fraction Guess Who – Divide students into pairs and give each pair a set of fraction cards. Each student chooses a fraction without showing it to their partner. They take turns asking a series of questions about the fraction card to try to guess the fraction. For example, “Is your fraction larger than 1/2?” They may want to use a scrap piece of paper to help with visually comparing fractions.
11.) In Charted Waters – Around the room, place several pieces of chart paper with a different fraction on each one. Each chart paper should have a line down the center dividing it in half. Provide students with post-it notes and have them move around the room to each chart paper. Their task is to write another fraction larger and smaller than the fraction on the chart paper on their post-it note and place it on the chart paper. When everyone is finished, move around the room and discuss it as a class.
12.) Order Up! – Provide students with a set of fraction cards and a recording sheet. Their task is to take turns drawing a card and deciding where on the recording sheet they want to write the fraction. The goal is to place the fractions in order from least to greatest, but once it’s recorded, it cannot be moved. If they are unable to write a fraction in, they lose that turn. The play continues until one player fills his or her recording sheet and proves the sequence is in order.
With these twelve exciting and engaging math games you are bound to help your fourth graders master comparing fractions and have some fun in the process!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a pressing hopscotch game to attend…