Sink that Ship: A Game of Fraction Representation on a Number Line

Sink that Ship: A Game of Fraction Representation on a Number Line

Students are introduced to number lines and fractions in their elementary grades. Number lines are basically abstract and so are fractions. The best way to introduce those two topics to children is through games. Sink that Ship is one such game which is easy to play and can be played virtually anywhere. The things that you’ll need for this game are some stationary items. Today we’ll take a look at the basic attributes of this game in more detail.



This game can be played by 3 players at a time. One has to be the control tower, the other one should be a Commander. The commander should work together with the control tower. The final player has to work independently as a spy. The spy has to mark ships on a number line and hand the same document over to the player who’s the control tower. The markings are the coordinates that depicts the location of these spy ships. The control tower has to make use of this intelligence by informing the same “coordinates” to the commander. The commander has to sink the spy ships on basis of his/her deduction skills. All three players rotate their roles and the spy who retains the most number of ships is deemed the winner. The main attributes of this game will be clearer after we go through the “How to Play” section where the rules will be clearly explained along with pictures.

Materials Required

  • 2 plastic sheets,
  • 2 erasable markers or pencils,
  • 2 erasers,
  • Number lines represented on a plastic sheet for the control tower player,
  • Number lines represented on a plastic sheet for the commander. 

How to Play

  • The spy has the task of marking 3 ships on the number line that’s provided by the control tower. Each ship should roughly be of 3 inches in length. The center of each ship needs to be on the coordinate point. Take a look at this image (A) below to know about the way a ship is marked by a spy. The spy then hands over this document to the control tower player.

Figure A

The 3 ships are marked with a red line with the small vertical ticks in their center 

  • The control tower player and the commander player should sit in front of each other in a manner that they cannot see each other’s document having the number line. The Commander and the control tower have to work together in this step. The commander has to fulfill the objective of sinking the enemy ships.
  • The control tower should send the coordinates to the commander one at a time. A simple example should be (A, ½) according to the images that are shown in this section. “A” represents the specific number line and ½ represents the specific position on the same number line. The commander need to mark the same on his document purely on the basis of estimation as well as deduction with a little bit of mathematical knowledge of number lines thrown in as well. The commander should mark with a star (*) so that it is easily recognizable. You can refer to this image (B) shown below. Untitled

The commander marks the points with a star on the basis of estimation and deduction  

  • After the marking’s (*) done, the commander’s number line is taken out for depicting the final result. The plastic sheet marked with commander stars (*) is placed on top of the control tower sheet bearing the number line. The edges are lined up on top of each other like the way it‘s shown in the image (C).


The control tower sheet is lined up with the commander’s plastic sheet

  •  The star marks that do not coincide with the red marks count to be the ones that have missed the target (ship). The ship that escapes the star marks counts to be a point. The players should rotate roles. The spy who has the maximum number of points after completion of an entire round of rotation is deemed the winner.

This game improves critical thinking abilities of players and also makes the learning experience involving elementary math topics like fractions, number lines etc more gratifying. This game is an effective teaching tool to introduce such topics to children. This game is pretty fun to play and the players play in groups which makes the experience more enjoyable. You can print certain samples of this game by downloading the digital versions from here by registering yourself on that website. Notice that “download now“section in the top right corner of your screen. You should click on that and in case you are not a registered user, you’ll be opted for free registration. After that you can download some samples of this game free of cost. Otherwise, you can always make your own versions of this game. You’ll just need some stationary items to do that. You should get the idea from the images shown above. Just draw some blank number lines (3) on two sheets of paper and you’ll be set to start with this game. The 2 plastic sheets will be required only during the play for marking purposes. Such after-school games are capable enough of imparting effective math education. Certain online math tutorials can also help you out with this matter.

Sudipto Das

Sudipto writes technical and educational content periodically for and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He's an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He's got a B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation.
Follow him on twitter @SudiptoDas1993

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