Decimal Place Value and the Connection to 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.

One of my professional goals this year is to help my teachers integrate more technology into their lessons.  I got a good start recently with a couple of activities for my 5th grade teachers who are teaching decimal place value and the connection between decimals and fractions.

Last week, the lessons were to extend decimals from the hundredths place to the thousandths place and to compare decimals.  Students used familiar concrete models of base-ten blocks and money to help develop a deeper understanding of decimals.  Many of their activities were from my Fractions and Decimals unit.  As a workstation activity, we developed a chart for students to use to compare two decimals, explain their thinking, and draw a picture of their model (either base-10 blocks or coins).  I added QR codes for students to check their answers.

The focus this week was to connect decimals to fractions.  Kiddos really need experience with concrete and pictorial models to understand this abstract concept.  I created a little SMART board file to use in a whole group mini-lesson.  The base-10 block pieces are infinite cloners, so students can drag them onto the place value mat. Notice from the picture that the teacher had the kiddos draw in the decimal point and write the word AND as a label for the decimal point. She drew popsicle sticks with the students’ names on them to call kiddos up to complete various parts of the task, which included building the model, writing the fraction, and writing the decimal.  That gave her the freedom to move around the room to help kiddos and also kept the students on their toes, because they didn’t know who would be called on next.

Download the QR code activity here and the SMART board activity here.  I really love reading your comments!



  1. Kelly

    I wish you were in my district! I am so lame about creating smart board stuff.

    • Donna Boucher

      Like I said, Kelly, it’s one of my professional goals…which means it’s something I know I need to work on. Ha ha.

  2. Brenda Donley

    I’m excited to see these resources as I am now working with 5th/6th graders in math (moved from 1st grade)! Thanks so much!! I just wrote a grant for a SMART board for my math intervention room so hoping your SMART board lesson will be put to good use soon!! *Fingers crossed!

  3. Muhammad Shakeel

    Thanks for this post.

  4. Prash

    Interesting indeed. I will definitely try using a very similar approach for my students as well. Thank you!

  5. Jennifer Brown

    I wish my school had math and literacy coaches. Budget cuts. I wish I had a technology guru like you too. I don’t know how to do QR codes. I love/loved reading your blogs. Thanks.

    • Donna Boucher

      I am definitely NOT a technology guru, Jennifer. Ha ha. The Internet is a wonderful place to learn how to use technology in education!

  6. Michelle

    We did a QR code activity with the teacher specialist at our school but it really didn’t make any sense to me because I didn’t see why it’s necessary or understand the purpose of QR codes.


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