Do your students struggle with fractions? If so, you are not alone! In fact, understanding fractions is one of the most common math struggles for young learners. There are a few reasons this might be the case, and in today’s blog post, I want to give you some concrete methods and engaging interactive activities for teaching fractions. These methods and activities can be used even if you are teaching virtually.
In my experience, the most likely culprit is a lack of hands-on practice with fractions. When we present fractions as an abstract concept, we lose our kiddos’ interest. It’s really a shame because, of all the math skills to master, fractions are among the more practical.
Just think about how many times you use fractions in everyday life:
- At restaurants, we calculate tips for servers,
- When shopping, we figure out the sale price of clothing,
- In the kitchen, we halve our soup recipes.
Fractions are everywhere, and yet, once we start using terms like numerator and denominator, our students’ eyes glaze over! Let’s take a look at three concrete ways to teach fractions.
Get Creative With Hands-On Fraction Kites
First, you can take fractions from abstract to concrete and easily visualized with fraction kites! This is one of my most popular lessons (it was even featured in Scholastic Magazine!). It’s a fun and artistic way to teach fractions. Teachers are still using this hands-on activity during remote learning, as it’s fairly simple for students to follow along with their copies at home!
We start with a kite grid of 56 blank squares (7 across, 8 down). Students choose six different colors and fill in squares as they wish. Some kids make a pattern, and some go totally random!
The next step is to add paper ribbons to the kite corresponding to each color. Students then count up the number of each color to determine what fraction of their kite is red, blue, purple, etc. If a kite has 12 blue squares, the blue ribbon gets labeled 12/56. In other words, 12 out of 56 squares are blue.
Counting it out this way helps students see the connection between what feels like an abstract fraction (12/56) and what that fraction truly means. Depending on the level your kiddos are at, you can then work on reducing fractions or creating a multiplication equation from the grid to find the denominator.
Go Digital With Engaging Fraction Apps & Activities
There are tons of fun and educational apps to teach fractions hands-on. Digital tools, games, and lessons can help students visualize and manipulate fractions. Here are some examples:
This iPad app is great for kids ages 7 and up. Learners interact with a family of adorable creatures called the Squeebles, learning fractions along the way. There are four mini-games to work on fractions:
- Piece of Cake: In easy mode, kids drag different fractions of cakes to feed the Squeebles.
- Tricky Pairs: Kids race to beat the clock by matching fractions of the same value as fast as possible. For example, 1/3 matches with 3/9.
- Think Big: Covering fractions up to twelfths, students work to spot the largest fraction.
- Super Sums: Learners race to answer the Math Monster’s questions about fractions as quickly as possible.
Interactive App: Fractions. Smart Pirates
This game has students learning fractions with pirates in the Caribbean. There are fun and interactive mini-games covering the following fraction skills:
- Simple fractions
Each game has three levels of difficulty to choose from as well as a training mode for practice.
Digital Interactive Math Activities
Are you struggling to teach fractions completely virtually? If so, I can help! I have several digital interactive math activities that are aligned with grade-level math standards. These are perfect for teaching fractions in a remote learning situation!
Each activity comes as a PowerPoint or Google Slideshow, so you can use whichever platform you’re more familiar with. There are interactive activities with drag and drop movable pieces that students can manipulate with as they practice their fractions. I love these because many of the slide decks provide that hands-on approach that we know is so important when teaching fractions. Bonus: there is also a self-grading quiz that provides your students with immediate feedback, while also saving you grading time!
Want to try out a couple of the fraction slides? I have free mini samples for grades 3, 4, and 5. Sign up below to have them emailed to you. Of course, you can shop all my digital interactive math activities by grade level to find the exact resources and math standards you need.
Get Hands-On With DIY Fraction Bars
Bust out the scissors and construction paper for yet another concrete way to teach fractions. Sure, you can buy a set of fraction bars, but by making their own, students can really visualize the meaning behind fractions.
Students will cut out several strips of paper, each one representing a whole. When they fold one strip in half and cut it, they can lay out the two halves. Next, they fold another strip in half twice, creating fourths, and so on. Each time they create new fractions from their whole strips, they write out the corresponding fractions: ½, ⅓, ¼, etc.
You can also do this with circles, or really mix things up and bring in a pizza or a cake to divide up! We all know food is a major motivator for kids!
How Do You Teach Fractions?
Do you have a tried-and-true method for teaching fractions? If so, let us know about it in the comments on this post! And be sure to follow my page for more tips and tricks for your teacher toolkit. Happy teaching!