Comparing and Ordering Fractions

Comparing fractions, when you look at just the numbers, can be deceiving. For example, which fraction do you think is bigger: 1/2 or 1/16.  Most of the third graders informed me that 1/16 is bigger than 1/2.  “Explain your thinking,” I prompted.  “Because the number is so much bigger!”

Thus, I began our lesson on ordering fractions with a challenge to list their fractions from biggest to smallest. “Do you see a pattern?” I asked.  With a little guidance, the third graders learned to see that the smaller the bottom number (aka the denominator), the bigger the fraction.

2/3 is bigger than 3/6

The Magical Minds explored this concept further by comparing two fractions using < , > , or = signs.  I asked them to complete this activity sheet, from the NCTM Illuminations lesson that informed this learning experience.

Having compared two fractions, the Magical Minds were ready to look at a set of three fractions.  I asked them to order their fractions on the activity sheet from least to greatest.  The relationships between fractions is much easier to see when you are using fraction strips.

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