Multiplying Fractions by a Whole Number

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.

Newer standards require students to multiply a whole number by a fraction in 5th Grade.  Here are 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 of 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!

 

26 Comments

  1. Hodgesgal

    As a sixth grade teacher in Texas, I appreciate this!

    I am so nervous about all the new TEKS I will be responsible for, plus filling in the gaps students will have from not having them covered the previous year.

    Elizabeth
    Hodges Herald

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Hey, Elizabeth! Yeah, I fear it’s going to be a messy couple of years. We’re all going to be working double time!

      Reply
  2. B3achHouse

    We’ve had those same problems here in Queensland, Australia. 2 years ago a new National Curriculum was introduced to bring our children up to the other states in Australia. It’s based on much more higher order thinking than we had attempted before and we had a hectic time at the first. We’re still on a sharp learning curve but at least we’re seeing our high flyers soaring. As for the middle-of-the-roaders……well maybe not so successful……but ah well, who are we to complain!!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      We just keep on keepin’ on! 🙂

      Reply
  3. DeeDee

    Keep up the fraction updates for Texas! As a fourth grade teacher my TEKS are so much heavier in fractions! We will all be looking for new ideas over the next few years.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Absolutely, DeeDee! It’s a brave new world. 🙂

      Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks for sharing, Cindy!

      Reply
  4. Anonymous

    Do you have any tips that would help students decide which operation to use when computing fractions. My students have the hardest time determining when to multiply or when to divide fractions.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I’m assuming you mean in a word problem context? I think they first have to have a strong understanding of whole number multiplication and division. If they can determine whether to multiply or divide in a word problem with whole numbers, it should carry over to fractions.

      Reply
  5. Jackie Crist

    Thanks Donna! This is just what I was looking for when I posted my question to you!

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Oh, good! Love how that worked out, Jackie! 🙂

      Reply
  6. TheElementary MathManiac

    The shift for my teachers has been great as well. Almost all fraction computation is now in grade 5. I have been using the book A Focus on Fractions to help teachers with this transition. It is well written with many examples and has very good research based ideas.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      I’ll have to check that one out!

      Reply
  7. Mrs. Decker

    Thanks for the freebie! I plan to use it Monday for math class.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Awesome! I hope it goes well! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Amit Kumar Jha

    I am Mathematics teacher in India with 20 years teaching experience including 8 years online tutoring experience to students from the various parts of the globe including US, UK, Canada, Australia,UAE,New Zealand , Ukrain to name a few.I tutor maths to Freshman,Sophomore, Jr and Sr Grades and also GRE/SAT math.For more details about me visit: http://goo.gl/MpLS8D
    This blog is really awesome and I can find good maths content in it. My Best wishes.

    Reply
  9. Jennifer O.

    I love this activity for teaching fraction multiplication. In California, we introduce it in 4th grade! I like the instructions that go with it, but the fraction card link no longer works. Do you have another link for them?

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Thanks for letting me know about the broken link, Jennifer! It’s fixed now. 🙂

      Reply
  10. kim

    Hello,
    I would like the links to make copies of the fraction printable and the other activites that you might have on multiplying fractions c and dividing fractions to put in my math centers. These are great !!! Thanks!!! I teach 5th grade .

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Glad you like them, Kim! Just use the links in the blog post to download the materials.

      Reply
  11. Stasia

    Thank you for this. My 6th grade math team is doing a ‘Kids Take Charge’ model of learning this year. It’s standards based learning where kids mini quiz after standard and work at their own pace. It was getting monotonous so I am looking forward to using your game with my kiddos.

    Reply
  12. Faithe

    This is my second year of teaching and my first year teaching math (5th grade). I am finding your blog so helpful! Thank you for giving such great background instructional information on specific topics in a quick, easy to read format and pairing it with great resources.

    Reply
  13. Angela Bryant

    I will used the cards in my small groups during Math class

    Reply
  14. Julie Holt

    The link to the fraction cards is broken now.

    Reply
    • Donna Boucher

      Hmmm, I just checked the links and they all worked for me. Maybe try again?

      Reply

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