Are you struggling to find ways to help your students practice adding and subtracting fractions? One of the best ways to reinforce a skill such as adding and subtracting fractions is by repetition and hands-on, engaging activities. Implementing these activities into your math stations can help students strengthen their skills while having fun. I’ve found that when students are engaged in fun center activities, they forget how much they are actually learning. So today I’m sharing 5 center activities to reinforce adding and subtracting fractions.
Why Use Math Stations to Practice Skills
Using math stations or centers is a great way to help students practice tough concepts, build confidence, and obtain a better understanding of concepts. When you provide more opportunities to practice and in differentiated ways, students have a better chance of successfully mastering the skills.
Stations provide a way for students to work independently or within a small group. This gives them the opportunity to work together, share ideas, and help one another to solve problems. Setting up math centers also gives you more time to work individually or in a small group setting with students who may need additional support.
My students love playing board games. I’ve used board games in my classroom for many years with great success. When a student is playing a game, it’s easy for them to quickly forget they are learning.
There are many store-bought board games that you could use in your fractions math centers. That can become pricey though and harder to change up to a new skill though. I like to use printable board games so I can easily add new skills, change the skill level, and have flexibility with the games. (Read more about using board games in your classroom!)
I’ve created dozens of board games for use in my classroom. They’re easy to just print and use, all you need is a spinner or dice. The adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators game is perfect for centers as a collaborative or competitive game. (It’s also included in my 5th-grade math board game bundle).
Puzzles are an easy math station to set up and can be quickly updated by swapping out cards. I like to use matching puzzles a few different ways in my math stations.
Set out all the pieces and have students time themselves finding the matches
Pass out the cards among 4-6 students and have them find the matches with other students
Lay just the answers out on the table and have students take turns finding the matches
Printable matching puzzles are fun and engaging when printed on colored cardstock. Save ink by printing them in black only and laminate so you can use them year after year.
I use this adding and subtracting unlike denominator matching puzzle with my students and they always have a blast with it!
Flashcards may seem like an old-school tool for learning fractions, but they make a great math center. You can use flashcards in so many ways at a math station. You could use task cards or simply make your own fraction flashcards for this station.
Let the students play war using cards. Each student will have to add or subtract their fractions and say their answer out loud to determine which students answer is greater. (If your students aren’t ready to compare fractions with different denominators, just be sure all the cards have the same denominator).
Have flashcard races between students. One student is the flashcard master and will hold up a card while students work out the problem and then shout out the correct answer. The first one to answer correctly gets the card. The person with the most cards at the end of the round wins.
Fraction task cards make it easy to differentiate instruction in small groups and math centers. They are also great for write the room or around the room activities. Use adding and subtracting task cards and print them on different colors of cardstock to notate the level of each problem. Then you can easily assign a color to students based on their ability.
Task cards are also great when you aren’t able to do math center activities but need your students to remain in their seats. Give all students recording sheets and project the cards using a camera or pin them on the board for students to see. They can solve and record answers at their own pace while in their seats.
Use a computer or tablet to set up a video station. Implementing a video station in between hands-on math stations will give students a short brain break and allow them to have a few minutes to themselves while listening to the video or song.
I love using Flocabulary videos in my classroom. There are a few excellent raps on adding fractions and other skills that you can use as a math station. You can watch the videos on flocabulary.com for free, but if you sign up for an account there are tons of other features that you can use like vocabulary games, quizzes, and read and responds. You can even print the lyrics out for the students so they can read along with the rap!
Adding and subtracting fractions is a concept that might require more than one instructional strategy. By setting up math stations and differentiating activities, you can give your students tons of opportunities to practice and strengthen their skills. You’re also giving yourself time to work one-on-one and give additional support where needed. If you’re ready to move on to a new concept, you could even use math centers to do assessments on adding and subtracting fractions.
Are you using math centers in your classroom to practice adding and subtracting fractions? What other activities have you found success with that I didn’t mention above? I’d love to hear what is working for you in your classroom in the comments!
More Hands-on fraction practice
If you’re looking for hands-on activities and games to practice adding and subtracting fractions with your students, here are some of my favorite resources in my store:
- Add & Subtract Fractions with Unlike Denominators Board Game
- Adding & Subtracting Fractions with Unlike Denominators Task Cards
- Adding & Subtracting Fractions with Unlike Denominators Matching Game