### 5 Activities for Teaching Fractions

5 Activities for Teaching Fractions

I've got another fun 5 Activities to Teach ... post for you today.  This one is all about fractions!  I LOVE teaching fractions - there are so many engaging ways to get your students involved in their learning in a hands-on way!

1.  Fraction Pizzas - We started off our Fraction Unit this year with a super fun Fraction Pizza themed day.  Oh my goodness - this is definitely something I will continue to do - we ALL had a blast!  We started out by making Paper Plate Fraction Pizzas.  This is something I've done before in our Interactive Math Journals (there is a full entry in my Math Journal resource, or you can read more about it and other fraction journal ideas in my blog post HERE.)  This time we completed the pizzas outside of our journals so we could display them for all to see (we glued our fraction pizzas to a paper with a napkin and some cutlery for a fun display).  Under their napkins, students had to write about the equivalent fractions they used in their pizzas.

But we didn't stop there - we actually MADE our fraction pizzas.  I had all the ingredients out, and divided the class into 3 teams.  We made chef hats out of construction paper and tissue paper for the full effect.  We did a full-out FoodTV competition - with each team working in relay style to complete the pizzas - each student had two minutes to work on their task before they tagged the next person on their team to take over - continuing until their pizzas were completed.  They had to sauce the pizza (we used premade pizza crusts), cut the meat and veggies (with plastic knives), shred the cheese - all according to the recipe cards we had (which was the same recipe we used to make our paper plate pizzas).  When all the teams were done, we baked the pizzas and had a fun lunch together.

But ... we didn't even stop there.  We saved the best for last - we made CANDY pizzas for dessert!  I had a variety of candy out on display and gave the three groups 10 minutes to meet and plan their recipes for their candy pizzas.  We used the premade crusts again (but they weren't the most delicious for the candy pizza, so I think I will do cookie dough next time) and white icing for the "sauce" and let the students take over.  This fun fraction pizza day was seriously the best kick off to our fraction unit - and it was one of my students' top memories from the year.

If you want to give this a try with your class, I've uploaded the pizza recipe and candy pizza cards to google drive - you can download a copy for yourself HERE.  (I also plan on writing a more indepth blog post all about our Pizza theme day SOON).

2.  Fraction of the Day Question - Fractions are just too important a concept to keep confined to one unit during the year.  I have a little spot on my whiteboard where I write a "real-life" fraction question each day for students to answer.  They solve on a sticky note and place it under the question (they usually do this first thing in the morning).  Sometimes they draw the fraction, sometimes they find equivalent fractions, sometimes they convert to decimals or percents ... just keep changing it up.  The denominator changes based on the number of students actually present that day - so that keeps it fresh, too.  I don't mark the individual responses - it's just a practice question each day.  Taking it up takes less than 5 minutes, and keeps fractions in their heads all year long.

If you don't have room on a whiteboard, this would be perfect on a little display chalkboard, or even those awesome little lightboxes I'm seeing all over instagram this summer.

3.  Fraction Clothespins - My favorite activity for comparing and ordering fractions is using clothespins on a clothesline.  I use little sticky labels for writing fractions on one side of the clothespin, and the decimal (or percent) on the other side.  Just hang a piece of string up in the classroom, and have students pick a clothespin or two to place on the line.  Equivalent fractions are clipped to each other.  I usually do this in two "rounds".  I give them time to put the clothespin up first.  Then, when everyone is done, I give them time to look at the clothesline and make any corrections that are needed (they can change their own pin, or any pin on the line).  If they are changing a pin, they have to justify why.  Quick and easy ... and so hands-on effective.  You can read more about this activity in a blog post I have HERE.

4.  Fraction Circle - We love using math circles in my class.  It gets us up and moving, and has the students collaborating with their friends to complete the task on the card.  We usually do the math circle the way it's intended, in a circle format, giving out cards to each of the students, but I put two fun twists on our Fraction Circle this year.  I used cards as exit slips or transition cards after different activities - calling out one or two cards for students to complete at various times during the day.  We also used the cards for a super fun board game activity.  I projected a game board onto my whiteboard (there are some fun ones online HERE) and pulled out the giant dice.  I split the class into two teams.  I read the first team a fraction card and gave them 1 minute to complete the task.  If they were correct, they got to roll the dice and move ahead on the game board (we used the whiteboard markers to track our place on the whiteboard).  Then the second team got to go.  Repeat until you're finished.  This was SO MUCH FUN!  And you can use almost any set of task cards or math circle for this.  I plan on printing a life-size gameboard through Vistaprint this summer so we can have more fun with games like this.

5.  Stations, Stations, Stations - I found that using lots of math stations and centers was another hit during our fraction unit.  The students LOVED the fun, hands-on activities they were doing, and I LOVED that they were kept busy, engaged, and learning while I had time to work with small groups for some extra reinforcement.  In the task card stations, I had pattern blocks and plastic building blocks set out for students to work through the tasks - with the students handing in their recording sheets when complete for a quick formative assessment.  I also made a station with dice - after the first day I added in a more difficult set of dice (with larger numbers than the standard dice) - I called them the "challenge dice" and I couldn't believe what a hit they were.  I'm not sure if it was because I let them use the "special dice" or because I called it a challenge, but whatever it was, I'll take the results.  I posted all our Fraction Math Center task cards we used in this unit into a bundle you can find on TpT HERE.

Dominos and whiteboards were another fun math station activity.  Dominos are perfect because they are already in fraction format.  These were also the perfect activity for me to work with individual students or small groups.  The students were having fun and the "work with teacher group" didn't seem like work at all.

Simply pick some random dominos from the tin and arrange in order from least to greatest for comparing fractions and finding common denominators.

Or, work with a partner (or the teacher) and play Fraction Domino War.  Each person places a domino on their side of the whiteboard, and the student with the greatest fraction wins both dominos.  The student with the most dominos at the end wins.
Pull a random domino from the tin and make equivalent fractions.

Or, place the domino so that the higher number is on top (the numerator) and make mixed numbers from the improper fractions.
Lastly, during our math stations, I added in another accountability factor this year.  When we had a large block of station time, with students visiting a number of stations, they had to complete a sticky note exit slip after they finished at each station (each station had a stack of different colored sticky notes at it).  They had to write something specific they learned about fractions at that particular station.  It did take a little modelling at first to teach how to write something specific to "prove" their learning ... but soon we went from "Today I learned about improper fractions" to "Today I learned how to change an improper fraction to a mixed number at the domino station.  You divide the numerator by the denominator to find the whole number, and then you have the fraction left over.  5/2 = 2 1/2."  At the end of all the stations, students collected all their sticky notes on the board, stapled them together, and handed it in for a math reflection.

Whew.  That's 5 ... and that's a lot.  I told you we had a ton of fun with hands-on fractions this year.  Please leave a comment below with some of your best hands-on fraction activities you like to do in the classroom.  We can all benefit from the sharing of ideas.  Be sure to check out all my "5 Activities for Teaching ..." posts HERE.

1. Thank you for sharing. Your post is wonderful and really helpful :)

2. Whao!These tips are amazing! Thanks for sharing.

3. Some nice ideas - thanks.

4. Awesome suggestions!! Going to try many!

5. Love the dominoes idea! This isn't really a hands-on suggestion but it is free - it's a fun little fraction, decimal and percent quiz. It's on the Free page of uquizgames.com

6. Wow.. nice idea. Quite interesting and unique way of teaching fractions. Thank you so much for sharing it here. Helpful :)

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