Whether you’re a teacher or a student, when someone says “fractions,” I don’t know if anyone gets excited. Teaching fractions can be an intimidating thought. It is often times a topic that is hard to understand. One of the key things I have learned is that when you teach a unit on fractions, you need to break it down into very basic lessons. Start out with learning what a fraction is and what the numerator and denominator represent before even thinking about comparing or adding them.

fraction manipulatives

Technology is becoming ever apparent in our world, including our classrooms. Technology can be a great way for students to do independent practice and get instant feedback. Teachers do not have the ability to work with every student one-on-one every day. Utilizing an app or a game can help solve this problem. This blog outlines 5 online math manipulatives you can utilize in your classrooms.

I have who has game

Hands on activities can be really helpful for students to understand fractions. This is especially true for your hands on and visual learners. Games are a great way to keep students engaged and to have a little fun while learning. This blog explains a fraction game similar to “Go Fish.” It only requires you to print off the game cards and cut them apart. They could be printed on cardstock and laminated so they can be used over and over again.

I spy

This teacher outlined an entire week of fractions in her classroom. From scavenger hunts to fraction bingo, her unit looks fun! She utilizes “math sprirals” which are notebooks her students put key ideas in so they can refer to them. You could also use this as an assessment. For one assignment, she had her students color parts of shapes and then underneath them, write the corresponding fraction. This would be an easy way to check to see who is understanding the concepts and who needs more instruction.

fraction page


DIY for Your Classroom

So you’re telling me I have to set up an entire classroom on literally little to no money? Where do I start? Since all of us teachers are millionaires, this shouldn’t be a problem. HA! I think this is one of the biggest hurdles we come across when setting up our classrooms. How do we set up a welcoming, engaging environment to meet all of our students’ needs on a slim budget? My answer for that is “DIY!”

One idea I found for bulletin boards is to make a tissue paper border instead of buying your usual paper border. This blog has a great tutorial on how to create a tissue paper border. You can shop the clearance isle and get some really great deals, especially after holidays!

Tissue Paper Border

Individual dry erase boards are essential in any classroom. One of the best uses for them I have seen is for exit tickets. You can ask your students to write down their answer for their exit ticket on their dry erase boards and quickly scan the room to evaluate what your students know. Kids also love to write on dry erase boards. As another perk, it also cuts down on paper usage! However, these can be spendy. This blog explains how to make dry erase boards for your classroom for a fraction of what you’d pay in a store.

Dry Erase Boards

Do you need an idea for extra seating in your classroom that isn’t another chair? Check out this teacher’s idea for making your own bench for your classroom. It’s simple to make and will add some color to your classroom. All you need are some crates, fabric, some foam and zip ties and you’ve got yourself a bench! You could also modify it and make individual seats for students to sit on at their desks or in a reading corner. Use plywood to make the seat part to cover the hole of the crate and you’ve got a seat with its own storage.


Do you have any kids that are easily over stimulated? Sometimes, it can be difficult to keep these kids calm or to calm them down when they are overstimulated. This blog has some great ideas for DIY sensory bottles and other sensory items you can easily make for your classroom.

Sensory Bottles

Needless to say, these are just a few ideas out of thousands that you can find. Or you can come up with your own and share with the rest of us! Pinterest will quickly become your best friend. It’s easy to use, has great ideas and it’s FREE!

How do we keep our students motivated?

This is a question we ask ourselves quite frequently. In order to keep our kids learning, we need to keep them engaged and motivated. There are many ways we can do this, but one thing I’ve learned is kids love to play games! So why not incorporate this into our classrooms? These can be easily incorporated into small group math centers.

Place value can be really hard to understand. A great game I found to help with this is a game called “Place Value Roll.” This game can easily be created with little materials: paper and a glue stick! The “dice” have pictures of Base 10 blocks on them. You roll the “dice” and write down how many tens and ones you have. You can make it a game by putting students into partner groups and whoever gets the higher number wins that round and they circle the highest number. Whoever has the most at the end of the activity wins! This is a very simple activity, but can help to reinforce the idea of place value into younger students.

Place Value

I found the idea for this game from a blog:


Another game I found just requires dice and paper. It can be used to practice addition or subtraction. One player rolls the two dice and either adds the two numbers or subtracts them and then places a marker on the sum or difference on their sheet. The first player to get four in a row wins! This game can be laminated and put into work stations to be used over and over again!

Connect 4 (2)

I also found this idea from a blog:




I think this next game is the most versatile, along with the best one to utilize across many subjects. You would tailor what you put on the popsicle sticks to the subject you are using the game for. It would work best in small groups. It’s called “Kaboom!” For this activity, the main thing you need are popsicle sticks, manipulatives, markers or paper (depending on what your learning target is) and some sort of cup to put them in. Some of the popsicle sticks will say “Kaboom” on them, the others will have a math problem on them. Each student takes a turn pulling out a popsicle stick, they give the answer to the problem and if they get it right, they keep the popsicle stick, if they get it incorrect, they put it back in the cup. When they get a Kaboom popsicle stick, they have to put all of their popsicle sticks back. This game helps to give students practice with different math skills while promoting team work and cooperation.

Kaboom (2)

I found this game on another teacher’s blog:

I hope your students enjoy these games!

Why bother with estimation?

Estimating can come into our lives in many different aspects. Estimation is the process of finding a number that is very close to the correct answer. We use it not only in math class, but we could also use it during one of my favorite activities: shopping! Using estimation can help us to determine if we have enough money for a large purchase while also helping us to create better number sense by knowing if an answer is reasonable or not.

How do we estimate?

Here’s a handy rule to follow:



How we round numbers can be different depending on what we’re trying to figure out. Let’s say we are calculating 232+431+298+501. This can be difficult to do in our heads, so we will probably use a calculator. While using a calculator, it can be easy to miss a button or hit the wrong number. We can use estimation to ensure our answer makes sense. For this problem, I would use rounding to the nearest hundred position.

This website is a great resource to use to help with rounding.

Here is a great website to use to practice rounding.


Let’s round!

            232 is closer to 200~431 is closer to 400~298 is closer to 300~501 is closer to 500

What does this mean?

            If compute 200+400+300+500, we get 1,400.

Now, let’s compute the numbers before we rounded.


There is only a difference of 62 between our rounded answer and our actual answer. Therefore, our answer is reasonable. If we would have made a computation error and our answer was 1,862, we would know right away that we made an error somewhere.


How does this help us with shopping?

What if we are shopping for new clothes and we only have $100 to spend? Estimating can help us to quickly decide what items we are going to buy and what items we are going to put back. Let’s say we are shopping and we find 8 pieces of clothing. The prices of these items are: $23.99, $12.99, $9.99, $14.99, $22.00, $22.99, $6.99, and $4.00. Instead of getting out a calculator, we can use estimation to quickly decide if we can afford to buy everything or if we need to put some items back.

After rounding each item, we have: $24, $13, $10, $15, $22, $23, $7 and $4. If we add these together, we get $118. This means we do not have enough money to purchase all eight items and we need to decrease our amount by about $18.