Adding Up Fractions - Math Coach's Corner

Adding Up Fractions

Written by Donna Boucher

Donna has been a teacher, math instructional coach, interventionist, and curriculum coordinator. A frequent speaker at state and national conferences, she shares her love for math with a worldwide audience through her website, Math Coach’s Corner. Donna is also the co-author of Guided Math Workshop.


Today I have a little freebie for the older kiddos.  This is a simple dice game for practicing adding fractions with like denominators and writing fractions greater than one as mixed numbers.

Now, hopefully you recognize that this game is very abstract.  It is not a good game for introducing the concept of writing fractions greater than one to mixed numbers.  It is a great game for practicing the concept once the kiddos understand it.

So how do you introduce this concept at the concrete and representational stages?  Well for concrete learning, fraction tiles are a great tool.  You could make your own out of fraction strips, if you don’t have the tiles.  To model fractions greater than one, you will need more than one set of tiles. Does that make sense?  A tile kit will only have 4 fourths, so to model 6/4 you’ll need to combine sets. It’s important that when they use the tiles to model the fraction, they make groups based on the denominator.  For example, to model 6/4 it would look like the drawn model in the next step, but you’d be using the tiles instead.

If you’ve read my posts about fractions before, you know it’s all about candy bars.  In explaining fractions greater than one, we use a candy bar that is scored to easily break apart, like a Hershey milk chocolate bar.  If I ate 6/4, it means each candy bar had 4 pieces, and I ate 6 pieces.  So I ate more than a whole candy bar.  That’s an essential understanding–anytime the numerator is bigger than the denominator, I ate more than a whole candy bar.

The next step is having kiddos draw models of fractions greater than one.  Again, if they are thinking in terms of candy bars, it is oh so easy.  For 6/4, their model would look like the one below. They know that each candy bar has 4 parts, so they draw the first candy bar.  They shade all 4 pieces in that candy bar, because they ate them all.  They know they kept eating, so they draw another candy bar.  They shade 2 of those pieces, because now the model shows they ate 6 pieces.  They can easily look at the model and see that they ate 1 2/4 or 1 1/2 candy bars.  Magic!

How do these short little “I’ll share a freebie” posts get so long?  Ha ha.  Anyway, here’s the freebie!  Enjoy!

23 Comments

  1. Rochelle

    As a 3-5 math teacher, I’ve become one of your biggest fans! Thank you for all the great resources!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      My pleasure, Rochelle! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Jenni Miller-Francis

    I’m going to use this with my son over the summer to reinforce concepts he learned this year. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  3. thebrummetts

    I teach intervention classes in 6th grade, and needless to say, fractions is a HUGE problem area. I am excited about using the chocolate bar examples to build their understanding.

    Erin
    http://brummettmath.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  4. T Bell

    Thanks so much for the candy bar tip…. mmmmmm….. chocolate! May have to teach this one over and over again with my homeschooler. Your advice and products really do make a difference. Thanks so much for all you do here!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      The candy bar visualization has always worked for me! Thanks for the sweet words about my blog. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Kelly

    I absolutely LOVE your blog and freebies…TpT too! Do you have any smart board lessons?

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks so much for the sweet words, Kelly. No, I really don’t do much in the way of SMART board activities. We have limited access to them at my school, so it hasn’t been a priority. Sorry!

      Reply
  6. Teaching 365

    Great activity. Can’t wait to use it with my fourth graders. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      You’re welcome! 🙂

      Reply
  7. Teri Williams

    Donna,
    How do I download the freebie? I clicked on it but I just got a larger view. I will be starting fractions when we return from break and this looks GREAT! Love your blog! Visit me too!

    5th Grade Tomfoolery

    Teri

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Click on the words “here’s the freebie” just above the pictures. 🙂

      Reply
  8. MelisaH

    thanks for sharing! I have been following you on Pinterest and now am following your blog. just started teaching improper and mixed last week so this will make a good Friday game this week.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Oh good! I’m glad the timing worked out for you, Melisa. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Heather aka HoJo

    Thanks for the idea! I’m going to modify your worksheet a bit to make it work for multiplying and dividing fractions as well. We are REALLY struggling with these concepts in 6th grade!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      It’s always nice when you can modify something a little to meet your needs!

      Reply
  10. Sabra

    Thank you so much! I know my kids will just love this next year. I will definitely be following you from now on :o)

    Sabra
    wwww.teachingwithatouchoftwang.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Welcome Sabra! Yes, it’s an easy little game, but the kids enjoy it. 🙂

      Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Hey Shana! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply

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