Teaching with Fraction Strips

“That was the best math lesson, ever!”

This is not what I had expected from the third graders.  Most of our lesson was spent folding and dividing colorful strips of paper.  This words of enthusiasm remind me that the simple act of creating math tools (manipulatives) can build a child’s confidence while also strengthening understanding.

 The goals for the day were to:

  • understand that fractions are part of a whole
  • find relationships between fractions
  • find equivalent fractions (different fractions that equal the same amount.  Eg. 1/2 = 2/4)
I began by modeling how to find relationships between fractions, moving my fractions strips around and placing different combinations of fractions next to one another.   

Modeling Equivalent Fractions: 1/3 = 2/6

 Once the Magical Minds had the basic understanding of how to find equivalent fractions, I set them to the task of accumulating as many equivalent fractions they could find.

The third graders moved around the room, spreading their fraction strips across tabletops and on the floor.

Comparing Fractions While Looking for Equivalence

What relationships do you see in the picture below?  How many different equivalent fractions can you find?

I See at Least Four Equivalent Fractions

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7 responses to “Teaching with Fraction Strips

  1. What a fabulous lesson. I like how the students are able to be physically engaged in moving the fractions around. So much more meaningful for them. Thank you for sharing the idea.

  2. Gosh! I wish I had this when I was young. I also like the hands on activity and helps make it so much more visibly clear. Thank you for posting. I will be using your idea with my 7 year old asap!
    ~Becki

  3. Students can practice at Math Skill Builder
    http://mathskillbuilder.org/compare_fractions.html

    It use the strips to explain the fractions. Try, you students will love it.

  4. This is a great lesson! I am a Special Education Teacher and my students definitely need hands on activities. This was very helpful for them to see the relationships of equivalent fractions, especially since most of my students are concrete learners. Kudos to you!

    • Thanks, JoAnne. I remember this lesson being particularly helpful for kids who learn more kinesthetically. What are some of your favorite activities for teaching division?

  5. I also teach using fraction strips. However, we just fold the paper so we don’t end up with fractions all over the place! Do you find it more beneficial by cutting them apart? I am wondering if I should attempt it this year…

    • Rochelle,
      I actually do prefer cutting them up. They become a bit scattered, but it becomes worth it when the kids move them around and compare them. I like to give them challenges, such as find as many ways to make 1/2. They can move the strips around and find the equivalent fractions.

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