Fractions Made Simple: 5 Tips for Completing Simple Fraction Problems

If you're just learning fractions, you might find that they're hard to visualize and understand. Below are some tips you can use that may make fractions simpler. You may discover that using fractions in everyday situations will help you understand them.

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How Can I Make Fractions Seem Simple?

There are many different methods to learn fractions, and your teacher may introduce some in the classroom. You may try any of the following five activities at home to help you visualize fractions. Some of these tips allow you to apply fractions to real life. You may need an adult's help for some of these.

Tip 1: Count Some Candy

If you have assorted color candies, such as jellybeans, use them to help you figure out fractions. Count out 24 candies, which would make 24 the denominator (the bottom number of the fraction that represents how many parts are in a whole).

Now, how many of those 24 candies are blue? That number is your numerator, which is the top number of the fraction that represents the number of equal parts. So, if you have six blue jelly beans, then 6 out of 24 - or 6/24 - of them are blue. Now count the number of other colors in those 24 candies. What fractions do they make?

Tip 2: Slice a Pizza

This tip doesn't require you to make or buy a pizza, although you can use the real thing. Draw a pizza and use a pencil or pen to divide it into the appropriate number of slices. Let's look at this problem:

You and three of your friends are hungry. You come home to discover that your mom has a pizza in the oven, which you can share with your friends. How would you slice it so everyone gets the same amount of pizza?

In this case, you'll want to slice it into four equal slices. Each slice would be 1/4 of the pizza. What if four more friends come over? How would you divide your four equal slices into eight equal slices? What's the fraction for one out of eight slices?

Tip 3: Measure Ingredients

Fractions are used in cooking and baking for measuring ingredients. You can help an adult in the kitchen and measure ingredients for him or her. Let's say a recipe calls for one cup of milk. Instead of just using the one cup measurement, you might try using a 1/4 cup or 1/3 cup measurement to see how many it takes to make one cup.

Once you get some practice with this, you might try using smaller measuring spoons, like 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoons, to measure out a tablespoon (hint: 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons). For an extra challenge, try doubling a recipe. If you doubled a recipe that calls for 3/4 cup sugar, you would need 1 1/2 cups. How many times would you use a 1/4 cup or a 1/2 cup measurement to get to 1 1/2 cups of sugar?

Tip 4: Peel an Orange

You can peel an orange and divide it into sections to help you understand fractions. How many sections are there? Write this number down as your denominator. If you shared this orange with one other person, how many sections would you each get? How would you divide the orange sections with two or three other people so that everyone gets the same amount?

Tip 5: Calculate Change

Coins may be used to learn fractions and give you practice with decimals and percents. Using a quarter (1/4, 25 cents, .25 and 25%), calculate how many you would need to make one-half (1/2, 50 cents, .50 and 50%), three quarters (3/4, 75 cents, .75 and 75%) and a whole dollar. Once you're used to using quarters, you might try calculating how many dimes (1/10, ten cents, .10 and 10%), nickels (1/20, five cents, .05 and 5%) and pennies (1/100, one cent, .01 and 1%) are in a dollar.

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