Hands-On Fractions Lessons and Lesson Plans

Many elementary students benefit from learning with hands-on activities because physical objects can help them visualize a math concept. The following lesson introduces fractions using visual models and can be completed in school or at home.

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Goal and Preparation

It can be difficult for children who have only worked with whole numbers to understand that a fraction represents a part of a whole. Consider using the following lesson plan to introduce your students to the concept of fractions.

Before class, cut out enough white paper circles that you have one for each student in your class. Your students will cut these circles into parts to help them visualize fractions. Be sure to bring necessary art supplies, including crayons and scissors, if your students don't have their own.

Fraction Lesson Plan

In Class

Begin class with an attention-grabbing question, like, 'Who likes pizza? Who likes pie?' Then, distribute a circle to each student, and tell them to decorate the circle as a pizza or a pie, whichever they like best.

Have your students use scissors to cut their pizzas or pies into four equal slices. Write 4/4 on the board and explain that this fraction represents each student's pizza or pie because all four parts of the whole are present. Then, instruct everyone to remove, or 'eat', one slice. Ask the students how many slices they have left, and write the fraction 3/4 on the board. Explain that, because they have eaten one slice, 3/4 represents the number of slices left from the original pie or pizza. Repeat this process for the fractions 2/4 and 1/4.

After this activity, you can formally introduce your students to the concept that a fraction represents a part of a whole. You also might want to introduce some key vocabulary terms. For instance, the numerator is the 'part,' and the denominator is the 'whole'. So, in the fraction 1/4, 1 is the numerator, and 4 is the denominator.

At Home

For homework, you might ask your students to look for real-life examples of fractions. For example, if one of your students shares a cookie with a friend, he or she ate 1/2 of the cookie.

Alternatively, you could challenge your students to come up with their own visual representation of the fraction 2/3. Before they leave school for the day, give each student a piece of paper with a circle drawn on it. For homework, each student should divide the circle into three equal pieces and color two of those pieces.

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