Edible Fractions on Fraction Plates

Elementary Lessons & Materials || Contents

An Explorer lesson plan that provides practice in understanding fractions as part and whole as well as the concept of fractions in real-life situations. Incorporates the use of models to add, subtract and estimate fractions. Refers to the children's book Eating Fractions by Bruce McMillan, Scholastic, Inc.

Download a Claris Works or Acrobat file from the Explorer site. Also information on grades, availability, description, curriculum, process skills, author, and publisher.

Author: Joanne Caniglia

Grade Level: 3-5

Description: This lesson plan helps students in understanding fractions as part/whole and the concept of fractions in real-life situations. Students will also be able to use models to add, subtract, and estimate fractions.

To assist students in the understanding of fractions (part-whole)
To use the area model to explore fractions
To provide experience in identification and estimation of fractions
To add and subtract fractional parts of a whole
To apply fractions to problem situations
To demonstrate equivalent fractions



  1. Cut a slit from the outer edge of the plastic plate to the center (radius). Place one plate on the other plate aligning the slits and pull the bottom plate's edge through the top plate's slit, overlapping the plastic and rotating the plates. The bottom plate should now slide around the top plate.

  2. Using an overhead transparency or report folder, draw circles using the plastic plates as guides. On the transparency mark the fractions you wish to emphasize. For example, if you want to teach concepts related to fourths, mark off four equal pieces.

  3. Fraction Plate Activities

    To assist students in estimation, one can rotate the two circles around until the students believe that the fraction named is demonstrated. Then, using the transparency, the student can self-check their work by overlaying the transparency on top of the two plates.

    To encourage discussion about equal fractions, two or more students can demonstrate various fractions such as 2/4 and 1/2 on their plates or with the transparency and their plates.

    Adding and subtracting fractions with the same denominator is possible by starting with one of the terms and continuing around the circle counting the units.

  4. Edible Fraction Activities

    Begin by reading the book Eating Fractions or another appropriate book to introduce the concept of fractions as being a part of a whole or a set.

    Use the graham crackers to illustrate wholes, halves and quarters, the Hershey Bars to explore sixths and eights, and the colored marshmallows to determines the sets of colors. To introduce denominators and numerators ask students to eat 1/2, 2/6, etc. of the food.

    As a culminating activity, use a recipe to bake M&M cookies: following a recipe, use fractions to measure and calculate the amount of time to bake. Using the cookies, students can write fractions for the amount of M&Ms in the cookies as compared to the sets of color.

    Math Journal Ideas

      A fraction is...
      A denominator is...
      A numerator is...
      How to make M&M cookies


    By holding up their fraction plates, teachers can identify very quickly whether students comprehend the concept of fraction and can estimate and perform operations. Students' journal entries also will indicate whether they understand the concept. Finally, students understanding of the fraction concepts will be evident in their cooking!

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