Thursday, February 21, 2013

What's in the Fraction Cabinet?

The fraction support materials cabinet has had a major overhaul since the last time I gave you a tour of this area.  The traditional materials are still as they were, but the hardware drawers that hold all of the additional goodies have changed a lot.  From left to right, the top row contains the following:

  • numerators, 1-10 printed on large cards.
  • denominators, 1-10 printed on large cards. These are the same as the numerators.  They could be in one drawer labeled "numerators AND denominators" but this is my sneaky way of reenforcing the vocabulary
  • fraction bars, cut from black construction paper)
  • match the fraction, a set of cards for matching the number form of a fraction to various visual representations 
  • fraction dice 
  • blank tickets, Most of my cabinets have a "blank tickets" drawer that all get lots of use.  I use these whenever I give any presentation so that the work is done in front of the child.  The boys use them a lot too for making their own work

From left to right, the second row from the top contains a drawer of random pre-printed fractions (pick a card, build it with the fraction materials) and a drawer of fractions with denominators higher than 10.

All of the rest of the drawers contain one presentations worth fraction equations (command cards) from the Montessori R&D Fraction album one.  I made all of those myself and you can find explanations along with the link to the free downloads here.  I numbered the drawers 1-45 which is how many presentations there are in the Montessori R&D Fractions album to cover equivalence, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions with like denominators.  The boys like "getting to the next level" on things so I labeled the presentations this way like "levels".  In the bottom corner of each label I also added the Montessori R&D page number for the presentation for myself.

 It would have been MUCH more space efficient to do this with envelopes.  However, I needed (wanted) a cabinet there anyway to hold the things in the first two rows.  It was going to take up the same width regardless, so it didn't make much difference in this particular instance to go taller.  I'm just saying, there is no shame in envelopes here!

On top of the cabinet you will see some bins (I was so mad the hardware store didn't have a green one.        They are available online but they were a few dollars in the store and would be about $20 to order just one green one.  Dad if you are reading this and can get me a green one in the right size from work I would be eternally grateful! Mom, if you are reading this tell Dad.).  Some of the materials Montessori R&D specified for certain presentations made SO MANY tickets they wouldn't fit in the drawer.  In fact, I think I would have needed TWO of the big bins on top to hold the tickets for the last division presentation (I stuck the overflow in an envelope).  I can't imagine making the kids do EVERY equation for those categories.  Yikes!  So, I probably overdid it for those.  The things in the big bins still have a little drawer in the cabinet.  It is just that the drawer is empty to prompt the boys to look for the work above.

My favorite part of the set up is the little clothespin you can see pinned to the handle of the drawer for presentation 9.  Once both boys are using the cabinet I will have TWO clothespins.  The clothespin marks the drawer to start on the next time they do the work.  For example, today Kal-El did drawer 8. When he was done he replaced the drawer and moved the clothespin to drawer nine.

Fractions are one of the math threads that led me to change our style of work plan.  Kal-El was choosing three math works every day and NEVER choosing fractions.  So, the equivalence work he almost finished in October sat stagnant until January.  Now it is in his work plan 2-3 times a week. With 45 drawers just for like-denominator and equivalence work you can see it will take a long time even if we are diligent.  He thinks the fractions are really fun and they make him happy.  He just never chooses them on his own.  He would rather take down the test tubes.  I think I read something about "experiment addiction" at the elementary level in Jessica's albums somewhere.


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  2. Experiment addiction. YES!

    And so worth it (as long as they're doing other stuff too).

    For my co-op, I allowed the children to do as many experiments as they like, but they had to write down or draw the results each time - or some other way document what they were doing. One boy hit the nail on the head when he said, "You're just trying to get us to write!" (yes, and think through what you are doing; and train your observation skills to find something of interest to notate...) ;)

    I love your fraction cabinet! And the clothespin idea is great!

  3. Omg! You are so organized!

    I want to be like you when I grow up! Lol!

    1. Oh goodness, I never saw this comment before...How did I miss it? That cracks me up!

  4. Organization makes all the difference.