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.
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.
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.
3.) Give students pictures of fractions and have them cut them up to show ways to decompose the fraction.
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.
5.) Play Games! Make your own games to practice decomposing fractions or try one of the games I have available on my TpT page.
Yesterday I wrote about making math real for children at home. Connecting Math to everyday life helps children be successful in school by showing them Math is important, building vocabulary and math fluency, and promoting critical thinking and problem solving skills. If you missed yesterday’s post: Getting Real With Math – Part 1 of 2 (@ home) click here to check it out. Today I am going to add onto yesterday by pointing out ways to make Math connections outside of the house. Just like yesterday, I would suggest that you keep it real by discussing problems with your child, give them time to think, reflect, talk it out and try to come up with solutions in a way that is natural and does not feel forced or too much like a “lesson”.
Math at the grocery store:
The grocery store is a great place to use math. Weighing produce, counting soup cans, and comparing prices of cereals are ways to use math skills and expose younger children to math and numbers. As your children get older you can increase the difficulty of your math conversations. My kids and I used to make a game out of estimating our total as we grocery shopped. This helped with rounding and mental math. When we got to the checkout we would see who was closest to the actual total. We haven’t actually played the estimating game lately, but they are older now and really good at comparing prices and figuring out an estimate for a total when we are shopping (especially when they are spending their own money).
You can also promote problem solving skills by asking questions such as:
- If these apples are $1 per pound, how much would 3 pounds cost? How did you figure that out?
- These potatoes are $4 for a 5 pound bag. How much is the cost per pound?
- If I use this coupon, what is my final price going to be?
- Which package is a better deal? How can you tell?
- How many packages do we need to buy to make sure we have enough toilet paper for the week?
Beyond the grocery store:
Once you start thinking of connecting math to your child’s world you will probably find all sorts of teachable math moments as you are out and about. Here are a few ideas:
- Comparing a value meal to buying items a la carte at fast food places.
- Finding total cost of an outing to a water park or movie.
- Elapsed time: keep track of start and end time and figure out time spent somewhere.
- Calculating distance traveled on a trip (out of town or just running an errand).
- Shopping for clothing, toys, books, etc.
I hope you enjoyed my post. Please feel free to leave comments with more ideas for using math out and about.
One of my favorite children’s books is “Math Curse“, written by John Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. It is a picture book about a child who has been “cursed” by looking at everything in her world as a math problem. The illustrations are fabulous and the story is clever, but that is not all that I love about it. As a teacher, I love reading the book to my students and challenging them to find math problems around them. It leads into great discussion about how we use Math in “Real Life”, not just in school. Continue reading