I mentioned in My Favourite Mathematics Manipulatives that you can easily find fraction discs printables off the internet, print on cardstock, laminate and cut out to use. Recently, I tried making them using foam sheets instead of just printing them on cardstock. It is more work but I figured foam sheet may be easier to handle because of the thickness. Since I have some form sheets at home, I decided I should just use them.
First of all, I found a website with the printables and printed out the template. (I will not give you the url for the website and I will explain why later.) I cut out the discs and traced onto the foam sheets. Since foam sheets come in different colours, it is a good idea to use a different colour for each disc for easy differentiation. I found out that drawing on foam sheet is not that easy.
Next, I cut out the foam discs. The second thing I discovered is that cutting foam sheets is definitely problematic if you want something that is more or less precise in shape and size. No matter how carefully I traced, how carefully I cut, the circles just didn’t come out nice and even. Very aggravating.
I cut out all the wedges only to realise that they all didn’t stack up nicely, which is a problem because for fractions, all the pieces must be the same. It was puzzling because I couldn’t understand why the wedges were different in sizes. So I looked at the pieces of template that I cut out from the printout and examined them. That was when I discovered that the circles were not perfect circles. They were ovals although not discernible if you just looked at them. You have to stack two of them over each other and rotate around a bit to see that they were slightly oval. Argh! I wasted my foam sheets on something that was made wrongly. This is why I am not telling you the url of the site.
Feeling rather fed up, I did not want to risk printing other templates. So I decided to make my own. At least I would be assured of the roundness of the circles. After I made my template, I repeated what I did with the foam sheets. It was still problematic because the foam sheets were tricky to cut. Although the pieces were more or less even, they were not as even as I liked them to be. They were not totally unusable but they would not do for the fussy. I considered the experiment a failure.
If you would like to try your hands on using foam sheets to make the fraction discs, the download link for the template is right below. I tried to make them as accurately as I possibly could but I cannot say that they are 100% accurate. Foam sheets are available from Popular Book Store and other craft shops. If you do not want to risk using foam sheets, this template is still good for the cardstock version. You will need to make two sets in order to teach Mixed Numbers.