What are the Fraction Skittles?
The Fraction Skittles are part of the Mathematics curriculum and provide children with an excellent visual example of fractions from an early age.
The material is comprised of a set of four six-inch wooden skittles; a whole skittle, and skittle divided into two, three, and four pieces. The skittle divided in half makes one skittle when put the red sides together. The skittle divided in three pieces makes one when you put the orange sides together. The skittle divided into fourths has matching green sides.
Fraction Skittles are introduced to children from the age of 2.5 years old, and are used all the way through to the Primary School Montessori curriculum. They have two main purposes, the first being to give a sensorial feel of the concept of fractions to small children, and to show that a whole may be divided into parts.
However, Fraction Skittles are also a concrete way to introduce mathematical concepts such as equivalent fractions, all arithmetic functions, conversion between fractions and decimal fractions, and measurement of angles.
Invite the child to the Mathematics shelves and identify the Fraction Skittles.
Carry the fraction skittles one at a time to a mat or table. Place them in the upper right corner.
Take out the whole fraction skittle, trace the edge of the base with 2 fingers and say ‘this is one whole’.
Hand the child the skittle to explore, then place on the mat or table.
Take out a 1/2 skittle, trace the base and say, ‘This is one of 2 parts’, allowing the child explore the skittle after.
Take out the other 1/2 and say ‘this is two of 2 parts’.
Put the two 1/2 skittles together next to the whole skittle to show that two 1/2 skittles are equivalent to a whole skittle.
Take out a 1/3 skittle and say ‘this is one of 3 parts’, allowing the child explore the skittle after.
Take out another 1/3 and say ‘this is two of 3 parts’. Take out the last 1/3 skittle and say, ‘this is three of 3 parts’.
Put the three 1/3 skittles together next to the whole skittle to show that three 1/3 skittles are the same as the whole skittle.
Take out a 1/4 skittle and say ‘this is one of 4 parts’, allowing the child explore the skittle after.
Take out another 1/4 skittle and say ‘this is two of 4 parts’. Take out the 3rd 1/3 skittle and say ‘this is three of 4 parts’. Take out the last 1/4 skittle and say ‘this is four of 4 parts’.
Put the four 1/4 skittles together next to the whole skittle to show that four 1/4 skittles make a whole skittle.
Slowly place each skittle part back on its tray. As you move the skittles back, reinforce what fraction of the skittle they are, for example ‘four of four parts, three of four parts, two of four parts’, and so on.
Offer the material to the child for them to explore mixing the parts together.