Top 5 Tips for Decomposing Fractions

As I have mentioned in previous posts about fractions, starting with hands on and pictorial activities is vital for helping primary intermediate level students understand fractions. Today I would like to share my top 5 tips for decomposing fractions. These are mainly focused on 3rd – 5th grade, but may be helpful for some older and younger students as well.

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1.)  I love using my pizza game for hands on fractions!  If you don’t have a pizza game, you can use plastic fraction circles or make pizza fractions from paper plates. Show your students a fraction of a pizza such as 5/6. After guided them to name the fraction, show them one way to decompose it by giving 2/6 to one student and 3/6 to another student. Point out that 2/6 + 3/6 is a way to decompose 5/6 and ask if they can name any other ways.  Act out other representations such as 2/6 + 1/6 + 2/6 by giving those slices to other students.  Try this with several different students.

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2.)  Give students color tiles or unifix cubes. Give specific directions such as make a rectangle with 3 red, 2 blue and 7 yellow.  What fraction of your tiles are not yellow? (5/12)  Move the red and blue apart a little to show how 5/12 can also be represented as 3/12 + 2/12.  Do this with a few other fractions as well.

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3.) Give students pictures of fractions and have them cut them up to show ways to decompose the fraction.

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4.) Coloring Practice – Give students pictures of fractions with nothing shaded.  Give them directions on what color to color different parts.  Then guide them to write number sentences to decompose the fractions.

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5.) Play Games!  Make your own games to practice decomposing fractions or try one of the games I have available on my TpT page.

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Measurement Conversions: Teaching Tips and a FREE Printable

convert2Measurement conversions can be quite overwhelming for some students! This is especially true if they do not understand the relationship between the different units of measurement. Notice I use the word “understand”, not the word “know”. Students can know that 1 foot is 12 inches with out really understanding how they are equal to each other.   Below are suggestions for building understanding so that student can be successful with measurement conversions. Continue reading

Helping Students Understand Fractions

 

Fractions can be a difficult subject for some students. Even students who seem to “get it” when doing simpler fraction work may become quickly confused by more complex skills such as comparing or adding fractions.

So, what can a teacher or parent do to help students develop a deeper understanding of fractions?

  1. Start with concrete, and real world examples:

    How about pizza! Yum! If you are at home you can use a real pizza to discuss how the equal parts of your pizza make a whole.  For example if your pizza is cut into 8 equal slices, talk to your child about how each slice is one-eighth of the whole pizza.  If you are making your own pizza you can slice it into halves first, then fourths, then eighths and discuss the pattern that you develop.  As the pizza is cut into smaller pieces, there are more pieces to make the whole.  In the classroom, you can use “pretend pizza” like this one from Learning Resources. Or you can have your students make their own pizzas out of paper plates.  Fun!

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Skip Counting & Multiplication

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It is very important for students to understand the meaning behind multiplication. It is also important for them to master multiplication facts so that they may apply them to other types of math. They need to know the multiples of numbers to simplify fractions, solve large division problems, see patterns,  understand algebra, and so much more.
Being fluent with Math is similar to being fluent in Reading. If a student knows his sight words and only has to sound out a few unfamiliar words he is able to read a paragraph or story fluently, and comprehend it. However, if he has to sound out all of the words as he reads, the paragraph or passage will take a long time and fluency will be weaker and comprehension compromised.

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Make a Math Scavenger Hunt!

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A Math Scavenger Hunt is a great way to get your students moving while they are practicing Math skills!  Type up or write some problems for your students, number them and post them around the classroom or homeschool room!  Give them a piece of paper or a fancy “record sheet” to record their answers as they work around the room.  This is also a fun way for parents to review skills with their children at home before a test!

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Using Place Value to Understand Addition

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Adding two digit numbers can seem like an easy enough task to those of us who have been doing it for a long time!  But for elementary students it can sometimes be confusing, especially if there is regrouping involved.

It is helpful to most students to start with something concrete, like place value blocks. Before I teach students the Continue reading