Board games are a way to engage children in learning and reviewing math skills. You can create board games out of a variety of materials or reuse boards, markers and pieces from older games. Items like beads, buttons or coins can also serve as game pieces, and you can create homemade dice or spinners out of card stock. Make a board game that pertains to the fraction concepts in your curriculum such as visual representations of fractions and
adding like denominators or as a review of all fraction concepts.
Visual Representations of Fractions
As children start learning about fractions, they usually learn how to label diagrams of partially shaded fraction circles or strips. To practice this skill, students can play a game recommended by the Saskatoon Public Schools Online Learning Centre (http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/de/math1-3/mathgameboards.html) called "Fraction Action." Create a board game with a designated "Start" and "Finish." Each square along the board game route should be labelled by a fraction. Create a spinner of visual diagrams that represent the fractions on the game board. The first player spins. He must place a marker on the first fraction along the game route that represents the diagram he has spun. Each player continues in the same way. The first player to reach the end of the route wins. It may be advantageous to provide students with an answer sheet to ensure they are placing their markers on the correct spots, or you can monitor to ensure they are selecting the correct fractions.
For a board game where children can review their knowledge of equivalent fractions, each player needs a handful of pieces such as buttons; each player should have her own distinctive colours. Each group will need two dice and a grid-style board game. For example, the Kids Activity Learning Games site (kids-activities-learning-games.com) created a five-by-five grid, where each square has a different fraction. To play the first child rolls the two dice and creates a fraction out of the rolled numbers; the lower number should be the numerator and the higher number, the denominator. That player finds an equivalent fraction to that rolled on the board and places his marker piece on top of it. Each player proceeds accordingly. The first player to place pieces in a complete row or column on the board wins.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (nctm.org) recommends a game called FractWards. Groups are given a game board with a start-to-finish play route. Each square along the route has a potential sum of two fractions.. Each student rolls four dice. They form two fractions in any combination they wish using the numbers on the dice. For example, if a student rolled a 1, 2, 3 and 4, he can create the fractions 1/2 and 3/4 or any other combination he wishes. He would then add the fractions and find that sum on the game board. If 5/4 appears more than once, he must place his playing piece on that sum that is closest to the start. Each student proceeds accordingly. The first student to reach the end wins. For students only familiar with adding fractions with like denominators, they can play the game with two dice. The rolled numbers can become the numerators, and they can choose any like denominator they wish.
Once students have learnt all there is to know about fractions, create a board game to review all concepts. You can draw a start-to-finish game board route, where each square is coloured one of several colours. Each colour can correspond to a topic on fractions, such as equivalent fractions or reducing fractions. Create a pile of cards for each topic and colour code them accordingly. Players take turns rolling the dice and move their playing piece that many squares. The colour they land on will prompt them to answer a question from the appropriate pile. If they answer the question correctly, they can remain on that square; if they answer it incorrectly, they must return to the square from their previous turn. The first student to reach the end of the game board route wins.
- Saskatoon State Schools Online Learning Centre: Math Game Boards
- Kids Activities Learning Games: Math Fraction Games and Activities Make Learning Fraction Easy
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: Math Games for the Classroom - Grades 6 to 8
- The Adoption Foundation Library: Simple, Home-made Educational Games
- Cornell University Astronomy Department: Making Your Own Board Games
- Grand Valley State University: Math Games for Skills and Concepts