Next year in Texas our 5th grade teachers are wading into unfamiliar waters as our new TEKS (Texas standards) push computation with fractions down to 5th grade.  Now that we’ve finished our state testing (at least for 5th grade math), we’re covering some of those gap skills that our 5th graders will need as 6th graders next year. Enter multiplying fractions.

Our standard requires students to multiply a whole number by a fraction.  Here’s some things to keep in mind when introducing this skill:

  • Remind students about the connection between multiplication and repeated addition. The problem 3 x 2/5 is the same thing as 2/5 + 2/5 + 2/5, which is 6/5 or 1 1/5.
  • Remember to return to the concrete and representational stages of learning since you are introducing a new skill.  Pull out those fraction tiles or strips so students can model 3 x 2/5.  Don’t leave out the number line, which is a great representation for fractions.
  • Put the problems in a real life context.  Fractions are very abstract and misunderstood by many students, so you absolutely need to put them in context.  Beth is making 3 picture frames.  She needs 2/5 yards of ribbon for each picture frame.  How many yards of ribbon does Beth need to buy?

Once you’ve done some modeling and guided practice, your students will be ready for practice. Grab the fraction cards from this post, a number cube, and these workstation instructions, and you’re all set to go!

Do you have any great tips for multiplying fractions?  Add them in the comments!


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