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Fraction Circles

What are fraction circles?

Fraction circles are a great tool for students to learn fractions. They are a set of circular colored manipulatives where each circle is the same size and divided into equal fractional parts. This includes halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, sixths, eighths, tenths, twelfths, and one whole.

Fraction circles allow teachers to teach fractions in a concrete and visually appealing way. There are numerous ways you can incorporate these colorful manipulatives into your classroom instruction. They are perfect for hands-on learning activities in math centers or for whole-class math demonstrations. Using fraction circles, students can show parts of a whole, compare fractions, and add and subtract fractions.

Why should I use them?

The difficulty students have with fractions is not surprising considering the complexity of the skills involved. Fractions throw students off as they are exposed to rules that conflict with their basic understanding of whole numbers. With fractions, the more parts you have, the smaller the size of each part. Students learn that ¼ is smaller than ⅓ even though they’ve been taught since kindergarten that four is larger than three. That’s why it’s so important to include fractional models, like fraction circles, into your regular math instruction.

Most teachers agree teaching fractions is challenging. Teachers also agree that fractions are fundamental to math learning, and their importance is not limited to math instruction. As you cook, tell time, shop, and plan out your day, fractions are immersed in your daily activity. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a day where fractions were not somehow involved. Even something as simple as dividing a pizza into equal slices, requires the use of fractions—six slices means the whole pizza is divided into sixths. Children should be exposed to fractions at an early age. This can be accomplished by building on students’ understanding of fair sharing and proportionality.