How to Teach Kids About Improper Fractions

Mastering basic fractions is hard enough, but improper fractions can be even harder. You can help your child learn about improper fractions with these teaching tips.

Find available tutors

Tips for Helping Kids Learn Improper Fractions

Understanding Basic Fractions

The first step to teaching kids about improper fractions is to make sure they understand the basic concept that a fraction is a whole divided into equal parts. You can use a graham cracker to demonstrate this concept because a whole graham cracker is easy to crack into four rectangles. After demonstrating the concept, take your child on a fractions scavenger hunt. Many household items can be divided; for example, you could cut paper into parts, slice a pizza or cake, or look at a ruler or measuring cup.

Explaining Mixed Numbers

Before kids can understand improper fractions, they need to understand mixed numbers. Graham crackers can also be used to explain this concept. Divide 1 graham cracker into 4 rectangles, and then set 1 rectangle next to a whole cracker. Explain how the graham crackers represent 1 whole and 1/4. Let your child experiment with other mixed numbers. For example, 2 whole crackers and 3 rectangles make 2 3/4.

Teaching Improper Fractions

After your child feels comfortable with mixed numbers, divide your whole graham crackers into 4 rectangles each. Explain that instead of writing a mixed number, we can show the entire number as a big fraction, called an improper fraction. Ask your child how many rectangles make a whole; he or she should understand that 4 make a whole. Then ask your child how many rectangles would make 1 1/4 and the other mixed numbers he or she played with.

Explain that the number of rectangles is the number on the top of the fraction, or the numerator. The number on the bottom of the fraction, or the denominator, is the number of parts that the whole can be divided into (in other words, the number of rectangles that make up 1 whole graham cracker). Point out that when the numerator is bigger than the denominator, it means that the fraction is more than 1.

Doing the Math

Once your child fully understands how improper fractions work, you can teach him or her how to quickly convert a mixed number into an improper fraction. Do this by multiplying the denominator by the whole. Add the product to the numerator. For example, if you want to convert the mixed number 3 4/9 into an improper fraction, first multiply the denominator 9 by the whole, 3. Since 9x3=27, you should then add 27 to the numerator, 4. Place the answer, 31, over the original denominator. Therefore, 3 4/9 written as an improper fraction is 31/9.

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    Tips to Help Kids Understand Fractions

    Fractions can be a confusing topic for some students. Read on to learn how you can help your children better understand the uses of fractions.

  • More Blog Articles
    5 Free and Fun Math Games for Kids

    Looking for a way to get your child engaged with math? There are many free, fun math games online that explore basic concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as more advanced games that offer practice with decimals and fractions. Read on to discover five of our favorite educational - and fun! -...

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth