Q&A #421

Teaching fraction addition

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From: Cindy (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jul 19, 1998 at 01:20:33
Subject: Re: Teaching fraction addition

I've enjoyed using Popsicle stick fractions.  Each child is given 20 Popsicle
sticks (lined paper can be substituted if you want).  Each stick is evenly
(key word) divided into 10 sections.  On one stick, you write the multiples
of 1 (1, 2, 3, etc.) On a second stick you write the multiples of 2 (2, 4, 6
Etc) on up to the multiples of 10.  Repeat the entire process with the second
set of 10 sticks.  Each child now has two complete sets of the multiplication
tables from 1 to 10.

How to use them:  Simplifying fractions:  make the fraction 1/3
To do that, take a stick that is the multiples of 1 and the stick that is the
multiples of 3 and place them together so you can see the fraction 1/3 in the
first squares.  Read across the sticks and you see 2/6, 3/9, etc. which are
multiples of 1/3.

To simplify 9/12, put all sticks together to make the multiplication chart.
Starting with the first row (multiples of 1) read across to find the number
9.  When you find it, read down that column until you find the number 12 (you
won't).  Go to the second row and look for a 9 - not there.  Go to the third
row and you find a 9.  Right under it is a 12.  Remove these two sticks and
line them up as a fraction.  9/12 reduces to 3/4

I went through the above because it is necessary to understand before the
students can add.

Add 2/3 + 4/5.  Find the sticks that will make up these two fractions.  Line
them up so you can see the two fractions.  Read across the bottom stick in
each fraction until you find the same number (common denominator).  Line up
the 2/3 sticks with the 4/5 sticks so the common denominator (15) is aligned.
 Students can now see that 2/3 + 4/5 is the same as 10/15 + 12/15.  Add the
numerators and simplify the sum.

Add 1/4 + 1/5 (that's why there are two sets of sticks for each student)

Find the sticks that make the fractions 1/4 and 1/5.  Find the common
denominator (20).  Line up the 1/4 sticks with the 1/5 sticks so that the
20's are aligned.  Students see 5/20 + 4/20 which is 9/20

It's easier to do than to explain, so write again if I confused you.

 -Cindy, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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