Mixed Numbers for 4th Grade Math Students

In 4th grade, students learn to add and subtract mixed numbers and convert mixed numbers into improper fractions. If your 4th grader could use a little extra practice with mixed numbers at home, try the following tips and activities.

Find available tutors

How to Teach 4th Graders about Mixed Numbers

Understanding Mixed Numbers

Mixed numbers are more complicated than basic fractions because they include three parts: the integer, the numerator and the denominator. Begin by making sure that your child can identify all three parts. In the mixed number 3 1/2, three is the integer, one is the numerator and two is the denominator.

Mixed numbers represent amounts that are greater than one. It can be helpful to explain them in the context of baking. If a recipe calls for 2 1/4 cups of flour, then you would measure two full cups of flour and 1/4 of a cup of flour.

On a number line, this amount is between two and three. For practice, create a number line using whole numbers and have your child identify where a variety of mixed numbers would be on the line.

Explaining Improper Fractions

Mixed numbers can be turned into improper fractions, which are fractions that have numerators that are larger than their denominators. In other words, there are more 'parts' than the original 'whole' amount. If your child has trouble understanding this description, use visuals. If you have one whole pie (4/4) and two extra slices (2/4), then this amount could be represented by an improper fraction (6/4).

In addition and subtraction problems with mixed numbers, students must first change the mixed number into an improper fraction. Consider the problem 4 1/3 + 2/3. Begin by multiplying the denominator by the integer (3 x 4 = 12). Then, add the numerator (12 + 1 = 13). Now, put that number on top of the existing denominator, so the improper fraction is 13/3. Then, you can add like normal: 13/3 + 2/3 = 15/3 = 5.

This process may be tricky for your child at first, but you can help by creating a diagram. Write a mixed number on a piece of paper in large numbers. Then, get a blue pen and draw an arrow from the denominator to the integer. Write an 'x' next to the arrow to represent multiplication. Using a red pen, draw another arrow from the integer to the numerator and write a '+' next to it to represent addition. Now, your child has a diagram the he or she can refer to in the future.

Practice Activities

You can use real-world contexts to give your child extra practice with mixed numbers. The next time you are measuring something, have your child turn the measurement into an improper fraction. For instance, if a piece of wood is 15 3/4 feet long, he or she can turn that mixed number into 63/4 feet. Similarly, if you are baking, use those measurements (like 2 1/4 cups of flour) to create improper fractions (9/4 cups).

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    Understanding Prime Numbers

    Prime numbers are positive integers that have fascinated people for thousands of years. If your child struggles to grasp prime numbers, it may help to gain a deeper understanding of how they're defined. Your child may also benefit from knowing how to identify them and how they're useful in nature.

  • More Blog Articles
    Obesity Targeted by Task Force in Tennessee Schools

    Numerous studies show the ill effects that being obese or overweight have on health. So if you're near the bottom of the 'most-obese states' list, it's likely time to do something about it. When Tennessee found itself in that spot, it began its fight to shed pounds with the formation of the Tennessee Obesity Task Force. Are the...

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth