It’s that time of year again where fractions begin to make their debut in classrooms and today I am so excited to share with you how I’ve taught this unit to my kiddos. Fractions can always be tricky for some kids because it’s the concept that a whole object can be divided into parts and how we label those parts. I’ve found that introducing money (a dollar is divided into quarters, etc.) or time (half past, quarter past, etc.) makes fractions easier to grasp because students have that schema from earlier lessons in the year.
It goes without saying that I LOVE to incorporate stories and reading skills into other subjects and math is no different. There are all kinds of fun read alouds out there that touch on fractions! These are just a few of my all-time favorites!
Study Jams by Scholastic is another great resource to add to any lesson. They provide wonderful visuals and they’re completely free! Scholastic provides a ton of videos for multiple math and science topics, which helps make teaching these tougher concepts a breeze.
After reading one of your favorite books on fractions, I recommend Eating Fractions since it goes with the “sweet treat” theme. After reading and discussing with students what a numerator and denominator represents, discuss how to write a fraction and use examples from the book to reinforce these ideas.
Using jellybeans, pour 20 onto a desk in front of the class so everyone can see. Invite a student to come up and count each jellybean - this will be the denominator. Encourage your class, or student, to explain back to you that this number represents the “whole", or the total number of jellybeans. Repeat this step with each same-color jellybeans on the table and practice writing the various fractions that are found. Students can watch or you can incorporate class whiteboards!
**Afterwards, add up each of the numerators to demonstrate that it will equal 20, which is your denominator or “whole”. I always share with my kids that adding the numerators is a great way to check their work before handing it in!
At this point you can play the Study Jams video on fractions or head straight into the craftivity!
Gumball Machine Fractions
I love doing this activity with my kids and they love it too! It’s so easy to throw together and helps kids understand how they can create fractions.
I Scream For Ice Cream!
Another fun activity to do with the kids is fraction sundaes! It’s another popular way to have kids demonstrate their understanding of fractions by choosing their flavors and writing out the fractions. The key to this activity (and the gumballs) is to limit the number of flavors your students can pick.
The first time I did this activity I kept it open-ended to see where it would take them, but reeling it in helped my kids focus on just a few flavors at a time and focus on writing their fractions correctly. Those higher achieving students can always complete a second sundae in their math notebooks when they finish.
The Doorbell Rang is a fun story about diving cookies so that all the kids can have an equal amount. This story is a great introduction to this activity where students have their cookie to divide and represent the fractions they create. I’ve made templates for halves, thirds, fourths, sixths, eighths, and tenths as well as a blank one. Students represent fractions both in numerical form as well as tracing the word form too.
I tried this activity a few years ago and I absolutely love how engaged my kids were throughout the entire thing! It was so easy to prep - you just need pink and white marshmallows (or use mini to large) and place them in the baggies that will represent different fractions. I prepped these ahead of time and even created a little cheat sheet that had the fractions I created recorded so it made checking their work even easier.
Fractions can be so much fun and I’m excited to share these activities that have been proven to keep kids engaged the entire unit! What fun activities do you plan for your kids for teaching fractions?