This article includes tons of ideas for teaching and learning fractions, practice activities for kids, and hands-on learning for Math teachers in K-2
Lessons and Activities for Teaching Fractions to Kids
Teaching fractions can seem like a daunting task. Kids are just mastering counting, simple addition, and subtraction. Then, you have to introduce this new world of non-whole numbers!
It can be confusing for kids.
However, there are lots of things that you can do to facilitate their learning and to strengthen their understanding of the concept of fractions.
This strong foundation will serve them well as they move on to more complex problems involving fractions in the upper grades. Therefore, in this article, we will specifically target teaching fractions to first and second graders.
Partitioning Shapes into Equal Shares
The first, most basic introduction to fractions comes as kids begin to explore the concept of dividing shapes into equal shares.
- Equal and Unequal Parts – Divide shapes evenly and some unevenly, and give them to kids. Have them sort the shapes.
- Build a Fraction Pizza – this fun activity is always a hit and provides the perfect example of how equal parts make up a whole.
- Playdough – Give each kid playdough in the shape of a circle and let them use playdough tools to cut them into even parts. In addition, you can take it a step farther and ask them to cut it into half, then fourths, etc.
- Pattern Blocks – Use pattern blocks to make and interact with shapes. For example, students can see how many triangles it takes to make a rectangle or square.
- Geobards and Tangrams – Use these for learning about how fractions are simply wholes made up of smaller, equal-sized shapes.
Identifying and Naming Fractions
The next skill to teach is how to name a fraction. Can a student look at a visual representation (a graph, a pie chart, a collection of objects, etc.) and name the fraction? Below are some activities to strengthen this vital skill.
- Lego Fractions – Use Legos of different colors to represent fractions, similar to here. Or, have students build towers of say, three reds, and one blue to make ¾. You can give kids fractions and let them build the towers themselves.
- Fraction Puzzles – these printable puzzles provide practice in fraction names and serves as a visual and positive reinforcement when the puzzle is complete.
- Paper Plate Fractions – Use colorful paper plates to cut in different pieces, like a pie. Cut some of the plates in half, some in fourths, some eighths. Label them by their fraction. Then, have the students use different combinations to make whole plates.
- Matching Fractions – Give half the class cards with visual representations of fractions and the other half cards with the fractions in number form. Have the students “find their match” and stand side by side. Also, this can work as a matching game for each student to do individually.
- Measuring cups – Label clear containers with different measurements and pour water into them. Then, you could have a clear cup marked with ⅛ cup, another with ¼ cup, another with ½ cup, and so on. This is a good way for students to visualize parts of the whole and how they relate to one another.
- Paper folding – Have the kids fold the paper in half and then in fourths and then in eighths. This creates different fractions of the whole, which children see when they open the paper up. They can take a marker and trace the lines to show the final divisions.
- Mindful Math Bundle – Find lots more low prep activities for teaching fractions in this bundle.
The next skill to learn is how to be able to write fractions, which can be tricky for kids! Therefor, lots of practice is needed to master it!
- Learn the terms – Teaching the terms numerator and the denominator is important to do upfront when working on fractions. Therefor, be sure to give many examples and write it out for the kids to see, as you teach them this.
- Math Journals – use writing prompts for practice understanding and showing fractions.
- Skittles Fractions – Give each student a mini pack of skittles. Have them write what fraction of the whole each color is. For example, what fraction of the candies is red. Have them record their answers. Also, if you don’t want to use candy, use other colorful objects, such as mini erasers.
- Fraction Dominoes – Have students take a colorful domino out of a basket and write the resulting fraction. You can make sure that the only dominoes in the mix represent the fractions that you have taught so far.
- Egg carton Fractions – Give each kid an empty egg carton. Next, have them put objects (marbles, buttons, etc.) in some of the empty spots. Then, have them write the corresponding fraction (which will have a denominator of 12).
- Graph it – Have kids all name their favorite color (or a similar thing) and then graph it on a poster board or chart paper. Use that information to show fractions—for example, 3/10 of the class likes blue.
Children’s Books that Help Teach Fractions to K-2
There are so many fun books that kids will love, and that also help teach the concept of fractions. Check out these below.
- Give Me Half! by Stuart J. Murphy – This book introduces the basic fraction “one half” with something that kids can relate to…pizza!
- Whole-y Cow! Fractions Are Fun by Taryn Souders – This book is a cute way to get kids thinking about fractions. This book is good for working on naming fractions.
- Apple Fractions by Jerry Pallotta – Use this book to introduce basic fractions using an apple. It will help make the complex concept a little clearer for kids.
- Full House: An Invitation to Fractions – This whimsical book gives kids an overview of fractions is a fun way.
- My Half Day by Doris Fisher – This wacky book will be a favorite among kids as they explore fractions in this young boy’s day.
- A Fraction’s Goal- Parts of a Whole by Brian P. Cleary – A fun, goofy book that illustrates fractions by dividing all different kinds of objects and groups of objects.
- Jump, Kangaroo, Jump! by Stuart J. Murphy – A cute book that has Kangaroo and his friends dividing into teams for field day. There is an activity guide in the back of the book, too.
- The Lion’s Share by Matthew McElligott – A tasty book that uses fractions in making a cake.
- Peg + Cat: The Pizza Problem by Jennifer Oxley – Kids will learn about making fractions along with Peg as she learns how to divide pizza for her customers.
- Pizza Counting by Christina Dobson – This book is sure to connect to the pizza-loving kids out there! But while they are exploring a story and facts about pizza, they will also be learning about fractions.
Resources for Teaching and Learning Fractions in K-2
Click the images above to visit the unit that has the activity seen in the photo or see the complete units below.
Find out why teachers love the Mindful Math program for Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
FREE Fraction Puzzle Activity
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Hands-On Manipulatives and Math Tools for Teaching Fractions
There are many resources and tools out there for using to enforce the teaching of fractions.
Below you find a list of our favorites.
- Learning Resources Pizza Fraction Fun Game – A game to make learning fractions fun, with different levels of challenge.
- Fraction Circles – These colorful fraction circles provide a way for kids to interact with a visual representation of different fractions.
- Rainbow Fraction Tiles – A hands-on aid for practicing fractions.
- Cat Fraction Math Game – A cute fraction matching game for 1st graders and up.
- Fraction Dominoes – This game provides lots of practice with identifying equivalent fractions.
- Sectioned Apple Magnets – Use these magnetic apples with your youngest learners to introduce segmentation and fractions.
- Magnetic Pizza Fractions – A fun way for kids to interact with fractions.
- Fun Express Fraction Puzzles – Self-correcting puzzle that matches fractions to their visual representation.
It can be a challenge to teach fractions to young learners. However, making it hands-on and connected to things they enjoy can make it much easier.
Remember, you are laying the groundwork for more complex mathematical concepts that are to come. By using these activities, you can give kids a good overview of how fractions work.
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