Lately, we have been covering fractions in math. This is usually a tricky topic for students and when I first told my class what we would study next it was met with an audible groan.
But fractions are fun! You use them in baking. You use them in sewing. You use them to measure. You use them all the time! To get my students excited I used a few hands on activities to help them visualize different fractional parts.
First up, homemade play dough. I modeled for students how, given a fraction, you could show it by breaking up the whole ball of dough into equal parts.
This let students not only see fractional parts but literally create them. It was a great way to help reinforce the idea that fractional parts must be equal. To drive home this point, we talked about sharing the fractional pieces they made with a family member or friend. If the pieces were not the same it would cause a problem or disagreement. By giving the idea of equal size pieces context, hopefully the idea sticks better.
Next up was a mini lesson with my mum involving quilt pieces. Since fractions are used all the time in sewing, this was a natural connection. The fact that students had the chance to listen to Mrs. White instead of Ms. White had them giddy.
Each student worked with a pack of fabric squares cut into fractional parts. Students had a whole square, quarters, and halves.
With each prompt to show a certain fractional part, students were quick to sift through their fabric pieces and lay them in front of them to show the correct answer. Throughout the lesson students were making connections, observations, and sharing what they learned. It proved that once again some hands on time was key to help solidify these concepts.
As a connection to my mum’s fraction lesson she left construction paper cut into fractional parts. I followed up her lesson by asking students to use as many pieces of paper as they wanted to create a design. The only thing they needed to do was identify how many of each fractional pieces they used. For example they might tell me they used 5/4ths of the 1/4 pieces. We hadn’t covered mixed numbers so it was a great way to practice with improper fractions.
To capture the learning I had students take a picture on SeeSaw. Then, they had the choice to explain their creation using a text feature or voice over. It gave me a snapshot of what students had grasped so far in our study of fractions.
Fractions can sometimes be a drag to teach or learn, but it doesn’t have to be! Exploring fractions in lots of different visual, hands on ways makes the learning not only fun but hopefully stick better with students.