Fraction notation activities and cards: 3 activities to illustrate fraction notation and concepts


Why are fractions difficult? 

There are several reasons fractions are extremely difficult for students with dyscalculia. Both the notation, using two numbers close to each other, and the different ways we show fractions can cause confusion.

  • When using the fraction notation, students need to work with two numbers at the same time and think of them in relation to each other. Not only is seeing the two numbers so close to each other confusing, the words used to ‘read out’ a fraction leave the impression it is ‘one entity’, ‘one number’ and does not bring in mind the ‘whole’ that is being divided.
  • Not only is a fraction is written with two numbers, the numerator and the denominator, those two numbers actually have an opposite working on the size of the fraction:           A larger numerator, the number written above the division line, makes the quantity of the fraction larger, which is in sync with children’s experience with positive numbers. In contrast to that, a larger denominator, the number written below the division line, makes the quantity of the fraction smaller. This is counter-intuitive to students who have learned that bigger numbers mean larger quantities! Students with dyscalculia usually do not understand and remember that these numbers have a totally different meaning depending on the place they are written.
  • Another reason students with dyscalculia often get confused with fractions is because they do not automatically see the similarity between different models (such as folded squares, fraction strips, fraction circles, or pizza pies) that are used to illustrate fractions in their textbook or are used in class presentations.
  • Last but not least, most students with dyscalculia are slower in copying from the board and prone to making reversals in the numbers as well as in the numerator and denominator of the fractions making for very confusing written notes.

The fraction notation cards and the symbol and number tiles in this activity are designed to show the different meanings of the top and bottom number, focusing on one number at a time, instead of both. The words numerator and denominator are unfamiliar vocabulary and do not add to understanding, so they are not used in this lesson, we call it top and bottom number. The top number shows how many equal parts you count. A larger top number makes the amount of the fraction larger. The bottom number shows what type of parts you count. A larger bottom number makes the amount of the fraction smaller.

Go to FREE ACTIVITIES AND DOWNLOADS to see the full activity.


Graph paper is beneficial for all math students!

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When you are shopping for school supplies, think about an extra journal or package of three ring binder paper: quad lined paper is the first and most economical help for your struggling Math student. A small minority of students gets visually confused by the squares on the page. So it is always best to search for paper that is very lightly printed with ‘unobtrusive’ squares: the emphasis should be on what your student is writing and drawing not on the grid. 

Neatly lining up calculations prevents errors. Quad paper can also help illustrate many concepts that are more complicated to explain in words but are easily seen on paper, such as multiplication, area and perimeter, for making graphs, and drawing congruent shapes, when showing transformations in size, slides, flips, and rotations and many more. 

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Shapin’up: first, second, and third place


This new free download is a game to practice the use of cardinal numbers.

It uses shapes in different colors and sizes, and other manipulatives like lego’s and is suitable for the youngest group of Math learners.

Go to Free Activities and Downloads and print the Shapin’up game board, rule cards and shapes. Laminate or glue on card-stock and cut out the cards and shapes.

Before you start, let your child play with the shapes and manipulatives, ask him/her to tell you about them and to sort them according to color and shape.

The actual activity:
Tell your child that you are going to play a game with the shapes. The first contest is the biggest one wins.
Show your child a row with three triangles in order from large to small and announce the winner, second and third place.
Play the game with other shapes. Your child announces first, second, and third place.

Alternate with your child to choose a rule (smallest – largest, longest – shortest, most corners – least corners, highest – lowest) and to put together the row of three and announce places.
Make variations with small toys or manipulatives you have available.

Have fun!

Downloads access


Children learn by doing

Research in education tells us over and over that hands on activities have more impact than verbal or written explanations alone. Simple manipulatives and pictures are used as key elements to illustrate math concepts.
The connections with your child’s everyday life experiences make it all sink in. Safely anchored in his memory he can now start to apply it in other situations.

Download our free guidelines and templates for games, outright playful and more serious activities to develop the math centers in his brain. There are sample activities to develop number sense, visuo-spatial activities and templates. Have fun!

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1. Number sense activities                                             Math concept                                                                    
Rules of Thumb{nicedownloads:20} General approach for teaching your child
Number walk and Bedtime book{nicedownloads:17} Learning number words, counting, one to one relationship, starting with the numerals
Take a guess before you count{nicedownloads:5} Subitizing, small quantity estimation, quantity comparison
Learning to count on the kitchen tiles{nicedownloads:9} Counting up and counting down, numerals
First, Second, and Third place{nicedownloads:12} Play a game to learn the cardinal numbers
Number cards counting and sorting activity{nicedownloads:25} Counting and sorting by ones and tens until 100
Number line, addition, subtraction, skip counting {nicedownloads:6} Number line, distance, counting, skip counting, addition, subtraction
On the Double{nicedownloads:16} Introducing the concept of multiplication by doubling
Conquer the Multiplication Blues{nicedownloads:7} Basic understanding of the multiplication tables till ten
Help with fractions{nicedownloads:11} Help your child to understand fractions
Understanding fractions and Fractions Booklet{nicedownloads:23} Explantion how to make the most of the Fractions Booklet
Fractions Booklet{nicedownloads:2} My fractions book: whole and parts, add and subtract like parts
Fraction Notation activity and cards


Fraction notation activity with cards
Cross out cross multiplication{nicedownloads:10} Prevent confusion with cross multiplication by showing all steps
2. Visuospatial activities  Math concept  
Symmetry activity: looking left and right{nicedownloads:4} Symmetry drawings: sizes and shapes, line of symmetry, symmetrical shape
Ruler number sense activity{nicedownloads:26} Estimating size of numbers on a number line
Thinking about Area by folding{nicedownloads:22} Fold to divide an area in similar parts, area is width times length
Pegboards{nicedownloads:18} Copy patterns and shapes
Patterns from concrete to abstract{nicedownloads:24} From patterns with concrete objects to number patterns
3. Templates  Math concept
Counting placemat{nicedownloads:8}  Counting to five
Number-bonds placemat{nicedownloads:19}  Number-bonds to ten
Number cards{nicedownloads:14}  Color coded number cards 1 – 100
Base ten template{nicedownloads:3}  Ones, tens, hundreds
 Domino Doubles Cards{nicedownloads:27}  Learning Doubles from 0 -9


Number books make a good bedtime read!

When you are selecting books to read to your kids at bedtime, consider a book that deals with numbers and calculations.

Children love to hear the same familiar story over and over and this adds to their memory of the numerical content.

Making and rereading their own Math Bedtime book is great (obviously you have gently aided in correcting any mistakes to prevent those taking root in your child’s memory). For our Number Walk and Bedtime Book activity go to the ‘Free Activities and Downloads’ menu.  

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