Fractions seem to get a lot of bad press. So many students get turned off by fractions and think that they aren’t good at fractions. I’m not exactly sure why this happens, but I know that if we give kids more positive experiences with fractions that we can change this. In my classroom we use a lot of games when we’re practicing and I find that students get really engaged when something is presented as a game. This works especially well with topics like adding and subtracting fractions. So, I’m super excited to share with you 10 awesome games and activities to help students become pro at adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators.
When students first start learning the operations with fractions, we usually start with common denominators. I have a collected a list of engaging and fun activities that will give your students plenty of practice with these skills. If you have students who are in an upper grade and still struggle with fractions, these activities are a good place to start. Whether your students are learning to add and subtract fractions for the first time, or you’re helping students strengthen and review their fraction skills, in this list you’ll find the ideas and resources you need. These activities can be used for independent or partner work, perfect for math centers, as well as fun whole class review.
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Here’s the list:
Let’s dive in
Students need a lot of practice especially with a topic like adding and subtracting fractions. They need to get a really solid understanding that you can only add and subtract fractions when the denominators are the same. It seems so logical and simple for us as teachers, but most kids need to have a lot of interaction with this basic concept. The activities below will give you a variety of ways you can practice these skills with the whole class, in partners, or independently.
I like to have a routine in how my math class runs, and mazes are the start to our routine. Students pick up their maze on the way in the door and get to work on it. I have such a variety of mazes that I can use them to reinforce what we are teaching as well as review past topics. After students work on their maze they check it with me. They can check after a couple of problems or at the end of the maze. When they finish, they move onto the next part of our math routine: working on their intervention on the computer.
This pack of 3 mazes for adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators helps students build a solid foundation. There’s no simplifying fractions or mixed numbers in this set of mazes. These mazes are simple and focused on just adding and subtracting numbers with common denominators. The third maze in the set adds a little challenge by having students add and subtract when there are three fractions involved. This works for differentiating for students, or having a bit of challenge as students gain their confidence with this skill. Students love to practice fractions with these mazes.
I have my students work in partners on a daily basis. It’s so important for them to talk about the math they’re doing, and it’s great to hear them explaining to each other how to solve problems. One of the best activities for partner work is paper chains. The students have 12 strips with problems and they have to put them in order of the question and matching answer. When they think they’re done, I check it. Once they have everything correct, they can make the paper chain.
For more tips and ideas for using paper chains in the classroom, check out this post.
This paper chain is all about adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators. I love the math talk that happens when they are looking at the problems and the possible answers. Personally, I would use this activity near the beginning of learning about adding and subtracting fractions. Also, it would work well after a few weeks or months as a review.
The pictures on each of the chains help make corrections really simple. You can just look at the pictures to quickly see if the strips are in the right order or not. And my students love having their completed chains as a reminder of the work they’ve completed. They come up with fun ways they want to display and decorate with them.
You might need an activity to practice adding and subtracting fractions as a whole class review. Knockout games are perfect for this. All students answer all the questions and they get points for correct answers. Knockout games really get students engaged.
To find out more about how to use knockout games in the classroom, check out this post.
This knockout game has simple adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators questions, as well as questions with 3 or more fractions. When I was thinking of how to increase the difficulty and add challenge, I decided to add some questions where students have to identify the error. This makes kids have to think a little bit beyond just completing the problem. Also, there are a couple of questions where students have to compare the answers to two different expressions. Try this game out for some fun review.
Bump is a fun partner game to get students practice with their fraction skills. You can find a couple of freebies from Games for Gains. The game board is very easy to follow and looks great. You will find 2 free games for adding fractions and 2 for subtracting. On each of those sets your students can practice with like denominators. This is a perfect math center for practicing this skill.
In this fun online game students have to find pairs of fractions with the same denominator. It is a very simple game and doesn’t take too long. It works perfect as a little warm-up for students to remember what a denominator is. Sometimes, when we play games like this, I like to make a class leader board and students can try to climb the leader board. Also, they love to compete against the teacher.
I love the Fruit Ninja game and have become a master of it over the years. The amount of time that I’ve spent playing Fruit Ninja is embarrassing. I guess I just feel so powerful as I slice the fruit and watch it splat. This fruit splat game offers a similar feeling and you get to practice math at the same time. What a deal!
In this game, students practice subtracting fractions with like denominators and then annihilate a piece of fruit. You can choose if the fruit go fast or slowly, and they have a timed mode or a relaxed mode. What a great center activity.
No matter what class I teach, I always have some fast finishers. They just get it and they’re ready for more. It’s hard to meet their needs sometimes, so I love to have activities that they can do on their own. This activity from Scholastic.com works great for fast finishers. It gets into word problems with adding fractions and walks them through it step by step. Also, this activity brings in some technology into the classroom.
Students will go on a step by step lesson about how to attack a word problem with adding fractions with like denominators. At the end of the lesson students get to try a few problems on their own. If you have the right kids that need something to do independently, this could be a good match.
I don’t really give students worksheet to complete, but I do love to find worksheets because you can use the problems to play a game with the class. There are a lot of games that they can play with a worksheet. One of my favorites is the target game.
You will find a small variety of worksheets at this link. It gives you a variety of problems you can use. You can cut them up and display with them with a doc camera. Or, you can go old school and write a couple of problems on the board, maybe as a “do now” activity or a sponge review task.
Another fun way to review with the whole class is with Kahoot. Students need a device (computer, iPad, etc) to play. It’s super simple to set up and get going. The teacher simply displays the game at the front of the room. The kids get to choose a name to play and then they’re ready to answer questions. The game keep tracks of points for speed and accuracy. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes kids try to go too fast and don’t slow down to read the questions. One nice feature is that at the end of the game you can download a report to see how the class did, making this a simple, and fun, formative assessment.
This particular Kahoot game has 10 simple questions to test how students are doing with adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators. It can be played quickly and works well as a quick check.
Mazes get kids focused and they take away some of the intimidation factor of working with math. I talked about mazes earlier, but this is a fun twist on the maze. This is a free digital maze that makes a great paperless assignment. The maze itself is adding fractions with like denominators and it can be used with Google Classroom. All you have to do is click on the link and then it will automatically give you your own copy. Then, you rename the copy and you can assign it to your students through Google Classroom.
Students will use the drawing tools in Google Drawing to make their way through the maze. When they finish they can turn it into you through Google Classroom. This works great as a homework assignment or to use during class.
Try one thing
This post presents a lot of ideas of how to engage your students with adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators (and I feel like I have typed that phrase a million times in this post!) I hope you found something that you’re excited to use, and that you try something new that you haven’t done before. Your students will appreciate the novelty and hopefully you’ll have a shiny new tool to add to your teaching belt.
Thanks so much for reading. Until next time!
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