Q&A #1533


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From: Claudia (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 10, 1999 at 20:12:18
Subject: Re: Fractions

Since you did not mention the age of your son, I am going to offer a basic
step in the understanding of fractions. Use construction paper strips cut
from the long side of different colors of construction paper. Make each of
them 3 inches wide.

For Example:
1 black strip equals 1 whole
1 red strip folded in half should be labeled 1 half on each
1 yellow strip should be folded in fourths and labeled with
4 fourths

This can continue for as many strips as you want to discuss. However, if your
son is very young or confused, keep it simple until he achieves the basic. I
suggest that you first compare strips to see that 1 whole is indeed the same
for all the colors. Then have your son "discover" that 2 halves make 1 whole
and 4 one-fourths make 2 halves and also 1 whole. Cut the strips into pieces
as indicated by the folds. Play some games using the black whole strip as the
game board. Cover the black one whole with fraction pieces by labeling a
blank die with small sticky dots labeled 1/4 and 1/2 on the six sides. Roll
the die and pick up the pieces indicated. Your son can be led to discover
that sometimes a fraction is less than 1 whole, equal to 1 whole, or even
greater than 1 whole. When this concept is mastered, add some more fraction
strips. It is easier to continue to divide the strips before you get into
thirds. For instance, from one-fourths go to one-eighths and even one-

This is probably enough for now. Continue with the fraction strips. I like to
keep for my students the fraction set folded in a zip lock baggie in their
math book or notebook. They may get it out anytime they need to construct the
idea of fractions. This can also be useful in adding fractions. Again, use
the whole strip as a base and lay the other strips on top. Example: 1/2 + 3/4
= 1 whole plus 1/4 or 1 and 1/4. For subtraction, lay out the whole, cover it
with the total, and take away the pieces. Example: 1 and 1/4 - 3/4 = 1/2.
When children build concrete examples of mathematical concepts, they can
visualize and understand better. It is also important to discuss what your
son knows and understands about each part of the exercise.

 -Judy, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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