Elementary Fraction Help: Tips and Tricks for Beginning Students

In 3rd grade, students begin to study fractions, including how to write and compare them. Keep reading for examples and tips to help you understand these concepts!

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Help with Fractions

Fractions represent parts of a whole. We can use fractions to explain how many slices of a whole pizza we ate or how many math problems on a test we answered correctly. Fractions can also be used to represent amounts that are less than one when we're measuring.

Every fraction has two parts: the denominator (the number on the bottom) and the numerator (the number on the top). The denominator is the part of the fraction that tells us how many parts something has altogether. The numerator tells us how many of those parts the fraction represents.

For instance, imagine you've ordered a pizza that has eight slices. You've eaten three slices, and you want to express that amount as a fraction. The fraction's denominator will be eight, since there are eight slices total, and the numerator will be three, since that's how many slices of pizza you've eaten. The fraction will be written like this: 3/8.

Tip: You can practice writing fractions using small items like coins. Take a handful of mixed coins, and write down what fraction are pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. For example, if you have eight coins and five of them are pennies, then 5/8 of the coins are pennies.

Fractions in Measurement

One way you'll use fractions is to measure items with a ruler. A typical 12-inch ruler is divided into 1-inch sections. You'll notice that each of these 1-inch sections is divided into a total of eight smaller sections. These sections help you measure items with lengths that fall between the main inch marks, like a pencil that's between seven and eight inches. You'll also use fractions to measure objects that are less than one inch long, like a pencil eraser.

Each of the smaller sections on the rulers represents 1/8 of an inch, since there are eight of them in each inch. If an object's length is equal to three of these sections, then it's 3/8 of an inch long. If its length equals seven of these sections, then it's 7/8 of an inch.

Equivalent Fractions

Some fractions have different numerators and denominators, but they are still equal. To visualize this, imagine that you have divided a pie into two large slices. If your friend eats one of these slices, she will have eaten 1/2 of the pie.

Now, imagine that you cut an identical pie into four slices, and your other friend is going to eat two of them. Although he will have eaten 2/4 of the pie, the total amount of pie that he eats will be equal to the amount that your other friend ate. In other words, 1/2 = 2/4. Here are a few other examples of equivalent fractions:

1/4 = 2/8

1/3 = 2/6

2/4 = 4/8

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