How To Teach Fourth Graders Fractions

In fourth grade, many students learn to add and subtract fractions with the same denominator. They also learn to multiply fractions by whole numbers. Keep reading for some teaching tips.

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Teaching Fractions to Fourth Graders

Reviewing Fraction Concepts

An easy way to review basic fraction concepts is to use a book, such as The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Fractions Book by Jerry Pallota. You can use cutouts resembling a Hershey's candy bar or the real thing. This book reviews fractions up to the twelfths.

Clarifying Numerators and Denominators

Adding and subtracting fractions can be simple once a child remembers the difference between the nominator and the denominator. The top part of a fraction, the numerator, represents a part of a whole. The denominator is the whole that the parts make up.

To help students visualize these words, think of it like a pie. Tell them to imagine a pie that is cut into five slices. Then, write an equation: 2/5 + 3/5 = 5/5. Read it as, 'Two of the five slices plus three of the five slices equals all five of the five slices.' Each slice represents a part of the same whole, which is why they can be added together.

Adding and Subtracting Fractions

Explicitly teach the rule for adding and subtracting fractions: you can add and subtract numerators, but denominators always remain the same. Reinforce the learning with lots of practice. To emphasize the point, use numbers with a small numerator and a large denominator, such as 1/23456 + 3/23456 = 4/23456.

Multiplying Fractions with Whole Numbers

Show that you follow the same rule for multiplying a fraction by a whole number. Read and write several problems, beginning with 1 x 1/5 = 1/5 and 2 x 1/5 = 2/5. See if anyone can tell what you are doing. Be sure to explain that you multiply the numerator by the whole number.

Practice by doubling or tripling a recipe. Have all the students bring in their favorite cookie recipe and in class, they will calculate how much of each ingredient they will need to make a double recipe. For instance, say a chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for a 3/4 cup of chocolate chips. For a double recipe, multiple 3/4 by two (2 x 3/4), equals 6/4 cups.

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