Mathematical Monday {Fractions}

Fractions, Fractions, Fractions!  Why are they so difficult!?!  We started fractions this week and I am already pulling my hair out.  The concept is difficult for so many students, and I am not even sure why. As a child I struggled with math, especially fractions, so I can relate to my kids frustrations.  I just wish I could remember why they were so difficult for me so I can help my students better.  

Last week we reviewed vocabulary and started with NF.1, equivalent fractions.  My kids are great with creating equivalent fractions using the standard algorithm (multiply the numerator and denominator by they same number).  When it comes to determining if two fractions are equivalent this is where the struggle begins.

So we pull out the manipulatives!  This day we used our fraction bars to determine if two fractions were equivalent or not. Partners worked together using the algorithm or the fraction bars.

I am hoping that as we continue to work on this skill students will become more comfortable with working with fractions and seeing more and more relationships.

Are there any tips or tricks you use to teach fractions?  If so please share! :)


  1. Hi Jess,
    My students have 5 different strategies for comparing fractions. I linked to a post where I show some of their thinking in grades 4 and 5. I had no idea there were so many ways to compare fractions until I read A Focus on Fractions: Bringing Research into the classroom. It is an amazing book for anyone who teaches fractions. It will change the way you teach.

    The Math Coach's Corner blog also has a good post on comparing fractions.

    The Math Maniac

  2. After we've talked about what equivalent fractions are and used enough manipulatives and shaded figures to understand why 1/2 = 3/6, I teach my students this algorithm. It works EVERY time and the kids grasp it quickly. Any time you need to tell if two fractions are equivalent, cross multiply. If the product of the denominator of the one fraction and the numerator of the other equals the product of the other pair, the fractions are equal. For example, 3/4 and 6/8 would be 3 x 8 = 24 and 4 x 6 = 24 so the fractions are equivalent. This works for comparing the fractions as well. When you cross multiply from denominator to numerator, the larger product will end up over the larger fraction. Take 4/5 and 2/3. 3 x4 =12 (write 12 over 4/5) and 5 x 2 = 10 (write 10 over 2/3). Therefore, 4/5 is larger than 2/3. I don't have the WHY to explain how this method is always accurate, but it is and like I said, we did all the concrete stuff before I introduce the algorithm so the basis understanding is already there. ~Stacy @ www.

  3. I too find that fractions are so difficult! My third graders can identify fractions like nobody's business, but once you ask them to find equivalent fractions or compare's like a deer in the headlights!
    A Tall Drink of Water


Back to Top