Learning Numerators and Denominators: Games and Activities

It's important that teachers and students use and understand the same terms. When learning about fractions, 'numerator' and 'denominator' are two words that will become essential to your child's vocabulary. You can help your child become familiar with these terms through the games and activities listed below.

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How Can I Help My Child Learn Numerators and Denominators at Home?

Fractions have two components: a numerator (the top number) and a denominator (the bottom number). Your child's teacher likely will introduce these vocabulary words at the beginning of the fractions unit and use them during lessons to reinforce their meaning. You should also use these words at home when you're helping your child with homework or reviewing for a test. The repetition of these terms can help your child remember them.

If your child is confusing the numerator and denominator, it could be because he or she doesn't understand the difference between the two. The denominator represents the whole, and the numerator represents a part of that whole. For example, in the fraction 1/4, four (the denominator) represents the whole, and one (the numerator) represents one part of the whole, which is divided into four sections.

Visual aids may help your child to better understand the concept of numerators and denominators. For instance, show your child a cookie and explain that the cookie, as a whole, is the denominator. Then, cut the cookie into four equal parts, and take away one section. Explain to your child that the three pieces of cookie that are left represent the numerator. Thus, the fraction can be written as 3/4.

Games and Activities


Have your child come up with an association that will help him remember these two terms. For instance, 'numerator' and 'elevator' have the same amount of syllables, and you ride an elevator to get to the top floor. Thus, the numerator goes on the top of a fraction.

Physical Fractions

Have your child stand up. Draw an imaginary line over her stomach. For this physical fraction, her head is the numerator, and her feet are the denominator. She has one head and two feet, so it's like the fraction 1/2. This may be an easy way for your child to remember which part goes on top.

Word Match-Up

Create cards with the words 'numerator' and 'denominator' on them. After explaining the difference between the two, quiz your child using these cards. To avoid too much repetition, you might mix in other suitable math terminology.

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