Understanding Fractions

Bradley, Florida Hartigan

Objective: Students will be able to recognize and understand equal fractions in relationship to a whole unit. Materials Needed: Construction Paper (cut into strips of equal widths and lengths) Paper clips Pen (preferably black) Cookbooks (for recipes) Patterns (for sewing) Scissors Various fruits (cut into fractional parts, which may be shared with the students at the end of this activity) Recommended Strategy: Discuss with the students the fact that fractions are a part of their daily lives. Elicit from the students some of these areas. The students should tell you of such fractions as related to cooking, sewing, money, food, etc. Have samples of foods, vegetables, patterns, cookbooks, etc. divided into fractional parts. Give the students an opportunity to touch and discuss these items. Depending on the level of the students, you may want to stop the lesson at this point until another day. If you are going to continue, proceed in the following manner. Using assorted sheets of construction paper, cut each sheet into strips of equal widths and lengths. Your first strip will represent a whole unit. With a paper clip, make a bundle of strips of various colors for each student. Have the students lay the first strip out on their desk. The first strip will remain a whole unit. Tell the students this strip will represent a whole unit. The second strip will be folded into two equal parts (one-half, 1/2). At this point, have the students compare 1/2 strip with the whole strip. How many halves make a whole? Elicit from the students the correct response and discussion of the meaning of one half. The next strip should be folded into three equal parts (one-third, 1/3). Be sure to give the students an opportunity to experiment with the folding. Some of them may need help. Have the students compare 1/3 strip to the whole strip. How many thirds make a whole unit? Give the students an opportunity to compare and discuss. Have the students compare 1/2 and 1/3 strips. Which is the largest, 1/2 or 1/3? Be sure to allow the students time to compare and discuss. As you allow the students to fold each strip, be sure to have them draw lines to show the divisions of each part of the strip. The students should also be allowed to write the fractional names on each part. Proceed in this manner until you have reached 1/6. At this point you should stop with the folding. If there is enough time let the students compare the fractional parts they have made and see if they can make other fractional parts(i.e. fold 1/2 in half to get 1/4, fold the 1/4 in half to get 1/8, fold the 1/5 in half to get 1/10, etc). This lesson can be continued for several days depending upon the level of your class. You may use this folding activity to show other mathematical operations.
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