Before children learn to perform operations with fractions, they should first fully comprehend what a fraction is. Third grade students should be able to interpret fractions as:
- An equal part of one whole,
- An equal subset of a set, and
- A point on a number line.
I’ve adapted a craft, a game, and puzzle that I use in my classroom for fun activities that parents can do at home with their children to help develop these skills.
|Common Core Standard||Brief Description||Details|
|3.NF.a1||Develop understanding of fractions as numbers.||Understand a fraction 1/b as the quantity formed by 1 part when a whole is partitioned into b equal parts; understand a fraction a/b as the quantity formed by a parts of size 1/b.|
|3.NF.a2||Understand a fraction as a number on the number line; represent fractions on a number line diagram.|
Third graders should be able to recognize halves, thirds, quarters, sixths, and eighths. Two common fraction models are circles cut into sections and rectangles cut into slices. You can make models at home with your child. This is a hands-on activity to help 3rd grade students understand fractions.
- 5 pictures of loaves of bread (2 copies of each picture)
- 5 round pictures of pizzas. (Pictures can’t be taken from an angle.) (2 copies of each picture.)
- Something to write with (ex: pen, pencil, crayon)
Use pictures of pizzas to make fraction models with your child. You will need at least five pictures of pizzas to make the required fraction models. Make two copies so you can make your own set while your child copies what you do to make another set. Make sure you use proper fraction vocabulary as you make your set and encourage your child to do the same. For example, “I can cut each quarter of my pizza in half to make eighths.” As you make each model, write the fraction on the back of each piece.
Pictures of loaves of bread can also be used to make fraction models. Using both round pizzas and long loaves helps children understand two common geometric interpretations of fractions. Cutting the loaves in equal sized slices also provides a good transition from equal parts to fractions on a number line. Again, make two copies so you can model the activity for your child. As you make each model, write the fraction on the back of each piece
After making the models, play “Pizza Shop” with your child. Order one-sixth of a pepperoni pizza and one-quarter of a loaf of bread from your child. Ask your child to fill the order by giving you the appropriate pieces. As your child becomes proficient at filling your orders, progress from orders using unit fractions to other fractions such as three-eighths of a cheese pizza or two-thirds of a loaf of bread. Eventually, you can use the models to compare fractions by ordering one-quarter of one pizza for one person and one-third of another pizza for another person. Ask, “Who has more pizza?”
If you don’t want to find your own pictures, you can use the ones in these worksheets.
My students love this game. It can also be easily adapted to a virtual learning environment. Simply open the document, share your screen, and play! If you’re playing this virtually, students will need to tell you which space they’d like to fill rather than putting physical markers on the spaces.
As you make the bread fraction models in the activity above, note that the name of the fraction is determined by the number of equal parts NOT the number of lines between zero and one. The loaf only needed to be cut three times to make four equal parts. Similarly, the distance between two whole numbers is one, so if it is cut into four equal parts, each part is one-quarter. Children frequently try to count the lines on the number lines rather than the number of equal parts. This game is designed to give you plenty of opportunities to help your 3rd grade child practice identifying fractions on a number line.
- The first player to get four markers in a row (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) wins!
After learning to identify fractions multiple ways, children need to practice combining these various interpretations. The bakery fraction puzzles are a set of twelve self-checking puzzles to practice connecting multiple ways to interpret fractions.
Each puzzle is composed of four pieces: a fraction, a circle model, a rectangular model, and a part of set model. After completing all twelve puzzles, the child can flip them over the see if they are correct. If the picture on the back of the puzzle is correct, then the puzzle is correct. If the picture is scrabbled, then the child made a mistake. If this happens, the child should turn the puzzle back over and try to correct the mistake before continuing to flip over the remaining puzzles.