Each year at this time, I introduce the concept of fractions to my three classes of third graders. In past years, one of the trickiest parts of teaching fractions for me has been helping students to understand the relative positions of fractions on a number line.
This year, I’ve found an excellent new resource to help me in that endeavor: The FracTrack. This sturdy, colorful manipulative is designed specifically to give students a hands-on representation of fractions on a number line. To differentiate for more advanced students who are ready to work with improper fractions and mixed numbers, there’s also a FracTrack Plus.
When using the FracTrack or FracTrack Plus to work with fractions on a number line, students randomly select a fraction card and then attempt to approximate that fraction’s location on an unmarked number line. To check their estimates, students can simply flip over their FracTrack to see how close their estimates actually came on a labeled number line.
FracTrack devices could be used in a one-on-one situation, in a small group or center, or in a whole-class environment. In addition to the game I’ve described above, an instruction booklet that comes with the FracTrack contains several other game ideas that teach topics like comparing fractions, finding equivalent fractions, and working with decimals.
As a teacher who has sometimes struggled in the past with students’ misconceptions about the relative sizes of various fractions and where they would fall on a number line, I’m excited for my third graders to get to use the FracTrack!
To see a brief example of the FracTrack in action, please watch the video below: