• best teaching practices
  • Fractions Introduction

    Start off with a quick conversation to activate prior knowledge

    *tip: have visual pictures available for students to see
    “Where and where do we use fractions in everyday life?”
    on the highway, music, shoe size, cooking, pizza, etc

    “What does ½ mean to you?”
    there are two total pieces and one is shaded

    “What does it mean to be equal?”
    they have the same area

    “What does a fraction show?”
    fractions show part of a whole

    Challenge:“Is this shape equally divided into fourths? 

    Quick challenge activity: “Is this shape divided into fourths? Why or why not?” 
    Allow students to discuss with a partner. Allow them to do some hands on exploration of this by providing paper (and scissors).

    Squares are split into half
    Triangles are split into half


    This activity will help students understand what fractions represent. Fractions represent equal parts of a whole.


    Fraction Strips

    Hands on cutting
    Red (whole)
    Orange (½)
    Yellow (1/3)
    Green (1/4)
    Purple (1/6)

    Guiding Questions
    How many orange pieces are there?
    Total of two pieces: Denominator
    Two EQUAL parts
    One out of two pieces (1/2)
    Two out of two pieces (2/2 or 1 whole)

    How many yellow pieces are there?
    1 out of three pieces (label 1/3)
    2 out of three pieces (2/3)
    3 out of three pieces (3/3 or 1 whole)

    3) What can we combine to make one whole?

    Fraction Vocabulary

    It’s important to teach students the fraction vocabulary.

    A foldable the students can glue into their math journals work.
    Numerator: part (how many) —– the top number counts
    Denominator: whole (how many total) —- what is being counted
    Fraction tells us only about the relationship between the part and the whole

    Simon Says – Follow the Leader
    Play a quick easy game of simon says to get them familiar with vocabulary in a way that is hands on.
    Example: When you say numerator, the students need to say “numerator” and point to their heads. When you say denominator, the students need to say “denominator” and point to their knees.  Change it up and say “part, how many” and the students need to say “numerator” and point to their heads. Change it up by trying to trick them and point to your head while saying “denominator” and see if they catch on!

    You can make up an easy chant that helps students remember the vocabulary.
    *pointing to their heads* “Numerator, numerator, part – how many”
    *pointing to their knees* “Denominator, denominator, whole – how many total”


    This is a part of our fraction series. Check out these other blogposts for more!
    – http://mustardseedteaching.com/pizza-fractions-unit-fractions/
    – http://mustardseedteaching.com/comparing-fractions-with-common-denominators-common-numerators/
    – http://mustardseedteaching.com/making-half/

    What are some things you do to introduce fractions?