Fun with Fractions
Understanding fractions can be a challenge. Here are a few ideas that should help your child understand these key concepts.
The top number is called the numerator. The bottom number is called the denominator.
When I teach fractions I like to make sure the students are totally involved.
We jump up with arms in the air and say "numerator" in our highest voices.
Since the denominator is at the base of the fraction, we use our deepest voices as we say "denominator" while flexing our big muscles and squatting to a low position.
With my class I would do this again and again until everyone is involved and will easily remember the parts of a fraction.
An amazing coworker taught me the Fraction Kit Game. This is a great activity for students in mid-elementary, but could be used at any time for review.
Each player will need 5 strips of paper. We used large construction paper, dividing it into four equal parts. Then we distributed strips of 5 different colors to each student. I believe every other step is great for the student to participate in. You will also need to create a dice or spinner with fractions on it. The fractions to be used are 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16. There should be more one-sixteenths than any other option.
With your child:
Provide one colored strip of paper to your child. Explain that this is one whole. Each of you will write "one whole" and "1" on your paper. Explain that there are many ways to write "1." Show that 1/1 (one out of one) is another way. Write this on your paper and have your child copy.
Provide a second strip of paper for your child and yourself. Each will fold the paper in half, again and again, until the fold is weak. Carefully tear the halves apart.
Label each half. 1/2
One the One Whole strip write 2/2 as another name.
Provide the third strip of paper. Break it into two halves.
Then break those halves into halves. This will result in four equal parts.
Label each part 1/4 (one-fourth).
Now you can write more names for each fraction you've already discussed. one half (2/4 - two-fourths) and more names for one whole (4/4 four-fourths).
Provide the fourth strip of paper for each person. This time you are splitting it into eighths. Label each of the eight equal parts as 1/8.
Add more names to each preceding piece.
Provide the fifth strip of paper. Break it in half until you have sixteen equal parts.
Label each sixteenth.
Go back and add more names to the various fractions. One whole should now say, "1, 1/1, 2/2, 4/4, 8/8, 16/16" Some children will love adding other fractions they know equal one whole: 100/100, 25/25. As long as the numerator and denominator match, the fraction is actually one whole.
After completing the fraction kit, ask your child what she or he noticed.
Tip: Be sure to have your child actually divide each paper made into fractions by folding in half and then tearing. Some children may want to guess where each fourth is, but in order to be accurate and to solidify the concept, be sure the papers are folded in half each time.
Game Set up:
Each player will set up their fraction kit with One Whole as the game board. The goal is to fully cover it, but not go beyond one whole).
Line up the other fractions in piles, much like you would for currency in Life or Monopoly.
How to play the Fraction Kit Game:
The first player rolls the dice (or spinner if that is what you chose to make).
The first player finds that fraction and covers part of One Whole, beginning at the left-hand side.
Player 2 rolls and covers part of One Whole.
Continue taking turns as before until someone has two of something. For example two 1/16's.
4. That player then shows how the fractions are the same size and states "I am trading two sixteenths for one eighth." This is a great way to help students visualize equivalent fractions.
5. Proceed with the game, making exchanges as necessary.
6. The first player to perfectly cover one whole with two halves wins!
Fractions are found in many parts of life. Four quarters make a dollar.
To children who are studying music, the fractions in the kit will sound familiar. The notes in music will help children learn fractions. One whole note in 4/4 time takes the same amount of time as two half notes or four quarter notes.
More Fraction Activities
One of the most difficult fractions to understand is one-third. I recently found that helping a child visualize the hours around a clock can help with this. Dividing a circle at 12, 4 and 8 o'clock will provide three equal slices of the circle. The plate at the bottom of the image shows the concept of dividing a circle into thirds. Paper plates can be an inexpensive tool to help students with this concept.
I hope that these activities will help you and your family have fun with fractions. The hands on aspect will help solidify the concepts for your child, making math assignments and real life fraction encounters easier in the long run.