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Equal Shares as a Foundation to Fractions

My last several weeks has been quite eye opening.  Imagine – my students don’t understand FRACTIONS! They haven’t been able to make sense of the idea that a fraction is typically smaller than 1 whole, despite having large numbers in the numerator and/or denominator.

I was also quite surprised to learn that several of my struggling students were not able to divide a group of manipulatives or picture into equal shares or even find half of a given number of objects.  Whoa, Nelly!  Back up the wagons!  Time to start fresh!  I needed some new ideas to help my students make a connection to fractions.  Introducing my Fractions & Equal Shares packet.

I’ve been working hard to develop a foundational unit to help ease students’ understanding of fractions.  Before my students could find half of a group of objects, they had to understand what the words “equal,” “fair share,”and “equivalent” mean.  For our purposes in class, we defined those words in general terms of being the same – same sized groups, same-sized pieces, etc.  We practiced splitting erasers, jellybeans, cereal, you-name-it, into equal shares starting with groups of 2, then 3, then 4.

This packet features a variety of hands-on type worksheets.  Students will split jellybeans and cupcakes into equal groups and the follow directions to color them.  Other pages will ask students to cut out fish and beetle bugs, color them, and split them into equal groups in order to glue them on fishbowls and put them in jars.

Don’t they look fun?  My creative-type students really enjoy these, and the strugglers seem to do better when they have movement and time to process.

I tried to not give much help to my students – I wanted them to struggle just a bit instead of me swooping in to “save the day.”  These pages allow you to layer just the right amount of scaffolding for your students – use only the pages that your students need!  (Although they are so cute, you will want to use them all!)

After your students have a foundation of equal parts and fair shares, they will move into fractions, like finding 1/2 of a group.  Fraction posters for 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 are included in the pack as reference tools.

Equivalent fractions are next in the packet.  Students will evaluate given fractions by creating their own model representations.  They can get creative here if they want – I like to hang work like this up in the classroom, and I have kept work samples for our spring parent-teacher conferences.  Parents like to see concrete work samples, and the kids like to show off their skills for their parents.

Fraction rods are featured, along with a page for the students to divide their own rods and make their own fractions.  Finally, we get to fraction circles – these are tough for learners!  These pages will walk you through.

I am really happy with how this packet turned out.  I loved using it with my students and I hope you and your students will love it as well!

Take care and keep this wonderful spring weather heading our way!