Monday, November 12, 2012

Fraction Materials

There have been some subtle changes in materials throughout our classroom.  One place that has undergone a bit of a transformation is this corner of our big window seat.  What used to be our geometric cabinet has morphed into a fractions cabinet.  Our botany cabinet has morphed into the geometric cabinet.  

Here is an older photo of our window seat so you can get your bearings.  The cabinet sitting on the left side of the window seat was the geometric cabinet.  The cabinet on the right was the botany cabinet.

I removed the materials from the circles drawer and the rectangles drawer of the geometric cabinet maybe two years ago.  For the past two years our geometric cabinet, which has six drawers, had four drawers full of geometric figures and two drawers full of the fraction circles.  Our fraction materials collection has expanded while our geometric figures collection is holding steady at four drawers.  The botany cabinet, which is a primary material, HAS four drawers.  So, I moved our botany insets and frames temporarily to storage and the geometric figures have been relocated to the botany cabinet.  We will probably use the botany materials again in the future, but I have plans for a new place to store them.

As things stand now, what was the botany cabinet and is now the geometric cabinet looks as it does below, sitting on the right-hand side of the window seat:

Me Too has been using the manipulatives cabinet a lot so I moved it to on top of the botany-now-geometry cabinet so he could reach it independently.

I taped labels on the front of the drawers so that the boys can find what they need without opening every drawer to do it.  I wouldn't do this if your child is in primary because one of the things the child has to learn is as simples as WHICH drawer is the triangle drawer, or which drawer IS the circles drawer.  Opening all the drawers and searching for what they need is half the battle and half the fun.  My boys have that part down cold and just want to be able to put their hands on the polygon drawer immediately when they need it.

Now the left-hand side of the window seat is devoted to fractions and looks as it does below:

As you can see, I bought a 60-drawer hardware cabinet to hold accessories for both geometry and fractions.  I'm not going to tell you what is in each drawer of the hardware cabinet yet because I haven't put in most of what I've made yet, and what I HAVE put in I don't like having in there.  I'll post about it once it is sorted out.

The former geometric cabinet, is now mostly full of fraction materials. There is one empty drawer and also some empty spots inside the drawers.  That is just fine because there is a little room left for some other materials in the future.  I made labels for the front of these drawers as well.

An elementary classroom would typically have a cabinet like the one below from Nienhuis.

The Nienhuis cabinet has 14 drawers and they call it a "fraction cabinet" although it holds more than just fraction materials (equivalent figure and Theorem of Pythagoras materials).  Between my old geometric cabinet and botany cabinet I only have 10 drawers.  Even if I eventually retire the geometric figures (which I don't anticipate at this point) I will be short.  I am KICKING MYSELF because I used to have an EXTRA geometric cabinet but sold it.  I might eventually just buy an extra inexpensive geometric cabinet to store the rest of the materials I'll need.  For now I'll see how things pan out.

If you peek inside the drawers of my fraction cabinet you'll find the following:

Two drawers of wooden fraction circles from Montessori Outlet (purchased at least three years ago).

One drawer of metal fraction squares divided into triangles...

 ...and a second drawer of metal fractions squares divided into smaller squares.  Both came in the same set from Adena Montessori.  Adena was the only deep discount supplier that had the squares when I ordered recently.

One drawer of metal fraction triangles divided into smaller triangles from IFIT.  The IFIT triangles are better quality than the Adena squares.  The metal is a little thicker so the pieces really sink in like a puzzle.  The Adena squares are just a little bit thinner which is enough for them to sometimes want to slide past one another.

Also new to our classroom and also from IFIT are the fraction skittles you see on top of the fraction cabinet and to the right of the hardware cabinet.  These are "mini" fraction skittles.  Space is at a premium here and the mini skittles were also a little cheaper.  One of the nice things about the full-sized skittles is that their footprint is identical in size to the footprints of the pieces of the fraction circles.  You can see Kal-El working with them below.

They were a big hit with both boys today.

I have a few more Montessori fraction materials that are in storage for the future (for example, we don't need all of the cut-out fraction segments we bought from IFIT until we get further into operations).  We also have a few great fraction games that aren't out yet.  I am working on making more fraction equations tonight. That is turning out to be a LONG project.  I have finished equivalence, addition, and subtraction.  Tonight I am digging into multiplication.  I'll post more on the equations cabinet and downloads for all the equations when I'm through!

There are only a few days left to vote for me for the Homeschool Blog Awards.  You can vote for me EVERY DAY, you can vote more than once if you own mulitiple devices!  My category is Best Homeschooling Methods Blog 2012 .


  1. I really like your labels for the geometric cabinet and fraction cabinet. Thanks for that great idea!

  2. I love your organization!!! I should learn a little bit about that!!lol Nice Job!!

  3. Thanks for this post. It helps to know how it is organized in other homes!

  4. Do the fraction skittles get used beyond the introduction of fractions? If so, how are they used? (if there is a brief answer, or someplace to direct me to find it)


  5. tGwPT,

    I have only seen them in the introduction to fractions. I got them mostly for Me Too who has done most of the primary fraction album but isn't really ready for fraction operations. I wanted him to continue working with the ideas he has, so I picked them up to stretch the work a bit. As I'm sure you know, the whole point of them is to show that fractions are not only made out of circles...or flat shapes. They show that a fraction can even be a 3-d object cut into equal pieces. The skittles are nice because the footprint can (if you get the full size) sit right in the fraction circle footprint. Otherwise, cutting up a piece of fruit would accomplish the same thing. These are an "unnecessary" item in my opinion, which is why I didn't get them originally.

  6. The fraction skittles are used for dividing fractions by fractions -- both regular fractions and later when working with decimal fractions.

    They get a lot of use around here ;)

  7. GwPT,

    Check out Jessica's comment! You can see a pix of how they are used in my post on Fraction charts if you look at the division of a fraction by a fraction chart.


    THANK YOU! I'm such a moron sometimes. I never made the connection when I made my fraction charts that the divided skittle was one of THESE divided skittles.

  8. MBT -

    That's so funny! And sounds just like me!

    See - I didn't even think of the fraction charts at all ;)

    If your sons are like mine - the fraction skittles will become something war-like or hero-like (for me fractions are about feeding pies and pizzas to families - to my son, it's about armies and who knows what all). And the long division work will become centurions, decurions, and foot soldiers.