How to Teach Fractions: A Guide to Teaching Kids Fractions

Kids use fractions in everyday situations, like when they divide cookies in half or pizza into eighths. Once they recognize their experience with fractions, they'll see how simple fractions really are!

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Teaching Fractions to Kids

Model Fractions

When you're teaching fractions, begin the unit with visual activities that will help kids understand what fractions look like. You can model fractions on the board with rectangles first. As the kids show understanding, let them draw rectangles and divide them into fractions. This activity can later be done with circles. You could even have a pizza party and let your students practice cutting the pizzas into halves, then fourths and finally eighths.

A set of measuring cups is another tool you can use. Fill a 1/2-cup measuring cup with water and pour it into the 1-cup measuring cup. Talk about the 1/2-cup measuring cup being full of water, but only filling the 1-cup container half way. Ask how many 1/2 cups it will take to fill one cup. Do the same with the 1/3-, 1/4- and 1/8-cup measuring cups.

Read about Fractions

Read-aloud books about fractions are available for children ages 4-11. You can use these books as an introduction to fractions and as a stimulus for learning. One book for children aged 4-8 is Full House: An Invitation to Fractions by Dayle Ann Dodds. Kids aged 6-11 will enjoy Funny & Fabulous Fraction Stories (Grades 3-6) by Dan Greenberg and Jared Lee.

Sing about Fractions

Although you can find songs about fractions on the Internet, it can be more fun to make your own. Most kids will be happy to help you out! For example, this song is sung to the tune of Three Blind Mice:

We have fractions. We have fractions.
See how they work. See how they work:
The top is called the numerator,
The bottom is the denominator.
Divide most anything into parts
And you have fractions.

Play with Fractions

Interactive fraction games proliferate on the Internet. Some must be purchased, but free ones abound. If your class doesn't have access to a computer for the kids to use, you can print puzzles and other games from websites; even board games can be found in printable formats.

Consider making your own card game. Using 3 x 5 cards, either whole or cut in half, make four cards for each fraction you want to include. These four cards consist of the fraction and three different picture representations of the fraction. Make cards for halves (1/2 and 2/2), thirds (1/3, 2/3 and 3/3) and fourths, sixths and eighths. With these cards, you can play adapted games of 'Tongue' (also known as 'Spoons'), 'Old Maid' (for this you'll need to add one card with a '0' on it for the 'Old Maid') or 'Snap.'

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