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3 Fun Hands-On Fractions Activities

Fractions aren’t always an easy concept for students, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun! The best way to introduce fractions isn’t a worksheet. It’s engaging and fun hands-on fractions activities!

Use hands on activities to engage your students as you are introducing fractions especially equal parts.

Before you get to those paper and pencil tasks that you have planned for your fraction unit, I urge you to try introducing the idea of fractions and equal parts by using hands-on activities. Utilizing hands-on fractions activities will bring the concept to life for your young learners. This means you are activating their background knowledge and ultimately leading to more math success down the road. Here are 3 ways that you can use hands-on fractions activities to teach equal parts in your classroom.

Hands on Fractions Activities: The Power of Food

I learned early on as a teacher that I could never underestimate the power of food as an instructional tool. So, it is no surprise that my go-to items for hands-on fractions and equal parts activities are graham crackers and Hershey bars!

Food and Unequal Parts

I started the lesson by offering two students a graham cracker or cookie to share. When they came to get their treat, I broke it into two unequal parts. I handed the larger piece to one student and the smaller piece to another. Guess what happened? Yup, one of them would comment that they got a smaller piece and say something along the lines of “that isn’t fair!”

Using food is a great way to introduce your students to fractions. By dividing up the food equally or unequally, students can visually see fractions in action.

I loved to follow this comment up with a bewildered look and the question “Why?” This gave students the opportunity about equal and unequal parts. While they didn’t use those words, I could easily guide the conversation to a place where important fraction vocabulary terms were introduced.

I would then apologize, grab another graham cracker and break it into equal parts. This allowed me to right my wrong and also illustrate equality.

Then I would ask why the second piece I gave out worked better. The students would point out that each piece was the same. From there, I would have my “in”! I would explain that the first pieces were unequal parts and the second pieces were equal parts. I would put these terms on an anchor chart, define them, and give them a visual. This made it easier for us to reference as we moved along.

Food and Fractions

Next, each student would get their own graham cracker (or Hershey bar depending on which snack you think your class might like best or what you can get your hands on!). I would guide them through breaking the item into two equal parts. This allowed me to introduce halves, and I added this concept to the anchor chart. I loved continuing to add a doodle of the graham cracker or chocolate bar to the chart for future reference (it also helps students make sure they are on track with how they are dividing up their snack!).

Using food is a great way to introduce your students to fractions. By dividing up the food equally or unequally, students can visually see fractions in action.

I kept going and would have my students break the item into four equal parts to introduce fourths. You can always continue on with this until you have introduced all the fractions you would like, but this is usually where I would stop. Just remember to add each term to the anchor chart as you work through the activity.

Finally, I allowed my students to take a quick break and eat their snacks. Even though they thought they were getting a break, I liked to circulate around the room and comment on how much graham cracker or chocolate they have left as a way to start introducing them to more fraction terminology. For example, I might say, “Rebecca, you have 3/4 of your Hershey’s bar left. How many more fourths do you think you will eat?” or “Gabe, you’ve already finished 1/2 of your graham cracker! How much do you have left?” These quick comments and conversations help to solidify the concepts we just discussed and set the students up for success with future fraction activities.

Teaching fractions with play dough

I recognize that not all classrooms might be able to utilize food items for a hands-on fractions activity, but I don’t want this to be a barrier for you implementing fun hands-on activities to teach this concept! So, that is why I also use play dough to help teach fractions!

You can either replace the food items in the previous hands-on activity with play dough, or you can use play dough as a follow-up activity. Either way will be effective!

Playdough is a great hands on activity to help your students learn about fractions.

In my classroom, I used play dough as a way to follow up with the food activity since play dough doesn’t have pre-placed lines to show sections like most chocolate bars and graham crackers.

I grouped the class by pairs and each pair would receive a container of play dough and a plastic knife (or you can use play dough cutting tools if you have them!). Then we would do a brief recap of our equal parts and fractions lesson using the anchor chart. I liked to demonstrate one more time using a graham cracker so that the visual is fresh in their minds.

creating fraction representations

Then I would challenge students to break their play dough into equal parts. They rolled it out and then scored with the knife the sections they are going to make. I would then take a quick peek around the room to make sure everyone is on the right page. Then they would get to cut their playdough demonstrating their understanding of fractions.

Just like with the food, we continued by cutting the playdough into smaller and small sections while working on that fraction vocabulary. To take the activity one step further, I would ask the students to put some parts back together, and we talk about what the fraction would be. This is a great extension for those quick learners!

Hands on fractions activities: tracing pattern blocks

Hands on activities like drawing shapes is a great way to get your students excited about learning about fractions.

Once we had used some fun manipulatives to introduce the idea of fractions and equal parts, I would get my students to work with pattern blocks for additional hands-on practice.

Each student starts with a circular pattern block they can trace and split into halves, thirds, or fourths.

They would then create their own reference sheet using the smaller pattern blocks to trace out each of the fractions we had learned.

Depending on how the other two activities went, I would know how much I need to scaffold. Sometimes students can complete this task on their own and other times I would use this activity as extra direct instruction time to walk them through creating their reference sheet.

Reinforcing with task cards and worksheets

Once students have had lots of hands-on practice, it is all about reinforcing those concepts! My favorite way to reinforce fractions is with task cards and fun worksheets.

Even when reinforcing, I tried to keep it as hands-on as possible, so I’ve created several engaging coloring, matching, and sorting Fractions Worksheets as well as a Fractions Scoot Game and Digital Task Cards.

NO PREP FRACTIONS WORKSHEETS

The Fractions Worksheets will have your practice covered for halves to fourths (plus, they include 3 printable anchor charts so you don’t have to make your own!). On each of these practice worksheets, students will be coloring or cutting, and pasting their answers. It’s a great way for them to show what they have learned.

FRACTIONS TASK CARDS

The Fractions Scoot Game will get your students up and moving around the room and includes 2 versions so that you can meet the needs of all of your students!The Digital Task Cards are included in the scoot game so that you can utilize them in the classroom or through virtual learning!

Save these hands on Fractions activities for later

Be sure to save this pin to your favorite classroom Pinterest board, so you’ll be ready to tackle fractions instruction!

Use hands on activities to engage your students as you are introducing fractions especially equal parts.

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