Ask a second or third-grade teacher what their students are struggling with and you might hear subtracting with regrouping. Ask an upper elementary teacher the same question, and you may not hear a different answer. Their answer may just involve fractions.
Regrouping is difficult and when you add fractions, it can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Just like any arduous math concept, interactive notebooks, manipulatives, and games can make the journey to success a little easier.
This subtracting mixed numbers game is designed to do just that!
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Included with the Subtracting Mixed Numbers Game:
- Complete game instructions
- Printable game board
- Printable game cards (3 sets for 3 different games)
- Recording page to write equations and solutions
Add a Little Background:
In order for the game make sense, it may be helpful to provide a back story. If you have children that like to be creative you can even let them create a name for the town and a story to go with it.
The basic story is this:
There is a town in the middle of nowhere who, instead of using money, uses blocks. You have entered a toy store with a stack of blocks. Can you purchase all the toys you “pick up” without running out of blocks?
Mixed Number Subtraction Game Prep Work:
This game requires very little prep, and is ready in just four easy steps:
- Print off game board and word cards that go with it (free in my shop)
- Cut out the game cards
- Grab game markers, a die, and pattern blocks
- Sit down with your 4th – 5th grader for a little math fun!
How to Play Mixed Number Subtraction Game:
To begin, students grab the number of hexagons listed at the bottom of each set of game cards.
(The problems become more difficult for each game board, and they require starting with different amounts of blocks.)
Next students take turns rolling the die and making their way around the game board.
If the students land on a blank space, nothing happens and it is now the next players turn.
If a player lands on a toy, then they must draw a card and “pay” the amount listed using their pattern blocks.
To further students’ understanding, a record sheet is provided. Students can record the number they are starting with, the number they are subtracting, and then write the answer.
When both players have reached the end, they must figure out the total number of pattern blocks they have left.
The person with the most wins!
How to Use The Pattern Blocks to Subtract:
Let’s say a player has 5 hexagons in front of him (every hexagon equals one whole for these games), and he needs to subtract 1 2/3. Obviously, he can’t break the hexagon block apart to subtract 2/3, so he must do some regrouping.
- First, he must look at the denominator of the fraction. This will tell him how many equal parts he must “break” his hexagon up into. In this example, the denominator is three, so he knows that his hexagon must be broken up into three equal parts.
- Secondly, he will figure out what block he can use that equals 2/3 of a hexagon. Hopefully, he will recognize that it takes three blue rhombuses to equal a hexagon. If this step is a problem for any child, you may want to take a step back and work on equivalent fractions using pattern blocks.
- Now we get to regroup. Our player will replace one hexagon with 3 rhombuses. He should now have 4 hexagons and 3 rhombuses.
- Finally, he subtracts. First, he takes away 2/3, which is two rhombuses. Next, he takes away 1 whole, which is one hexagon. He now has 3 hexagons and 1 rhombus. 5 – 1 2/3= 4 2/3
Regrouping whole numbers or regrouping with fractions can be quite a chore. But the more children practice it in hands-on, fun ways the quicker they will become successful. So let your kiddos “buy” some toys and subtract away! You’ve Got This!
Other Fun Fraction Resources:
- Multiply Fractions on a Number Line
- Simplifying Fractions
- Fractions Puzzles
- Books to Teach and Explore Fractions
Rachel is a homeschool mom to four little ones, ages 2 to 6. She is a former public school elementary teacher, and has recently begun blogging at You’ve Got This. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.
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