When you’re trying to teach children about learning fractions, making it fun for them is important. Whether you’re a responsible parent helping your child with homework problems, or a math tutor looking to spice up some lesson plans, incorporating some fun and creativity when learning fractions can help bring the level of understanding up quickly.
When fun is called for, you can’t argue with educational games! The two are nearly synonymous! If you can line up a few games that highlight various concepts dealing with fractions, the fun can continue for as long as necessary to ensure a firm grasp on each concept.
One great game is to practice fraction reduction against a partner or the clock. To prepare for the game, put together several flashcards showing fractions that need to be reduced, such as 12/16 (which reduces to 3/4). A few should already have the most reduced form of the fraction, to make it tricky. If playing alone, set up a timer and see if your child can beat his or her time from round to round. If you have more than one player, you can play (or race) against each other.
If you’re a tutor, you might want to laminate the cards so that your students can write the answers directly on them. If lamination isn’t an option, you’ll still need a way to confirm correct answers as the round goes on, so make sure you have a pad of paper and a pencil handy. Lay the cards out in a grid so that the players can see every fraction as soon as the round begins, and then start the fun!
A variation on this would be to order all of the fraction cards from smallest to largest. For this method to work, you’ll need to keep things somewhat simple at first; for example, only use fractions with denominators that are multiples of 6, which could include 6, 12, and 24. This game will work on expanding fractions, all out to the same denominator.
Use Something Sweet
Candy is a great motivator and learning tool; you can use it as a fun visual aid, and then your child can enjoy a sweet treat when he or she gets a right answer! Positively rewarding progress when learning fractions will help keep your child motivated and excited to play.
One great idea for incorporating candy is to use Kit Kats to show the denominator and numerator in fractions. Whatever your desired outcome for the denominator, set that total number on the table, and then turn over or otherwise distinguish the numerator. Ask your child to solve the fraction, and reduce if necessary. If you have 12 Kit Kat pieces on the table with nine turned over, they should be able to tell you that the fraction is 9/12, which reduces to 3/4.
Small pieces of candy like M&Ms and Skittles work great when learning fractions to discuss multiplication and addition. Because you can divide up the pieces by color, you can create different fractions to suit your needs when teaching multiplication.
For learning fraction multiplication, you can set up a scenario in which you ask your child to find a certain fraction of a certain color. For example, say you have five colors, with three pieces of candy of each color, and you want the child to multiply 1/3 of 1/5. The child should take 1/3 of one color, or one piece of candy. Then all that’s needed is to figure out what the resulting fraction is, which would be the number of pieces in the child’s hand for the numerator, and the total number of pieces that were on the table to begin with for the denominator. In this case, you’d have a resulting fraction of 1/15. Of course, you can eliminate colors or add in others to make different fractions to suit your needs.
Flex Your Imagination
Flashcards and candy aren’t the only ways to make learning fractions fun! As long as you’re enthusiastic and innovative with the concepts, your child will likely be more engaged and interested in learning. Spacing out the learning throughout the day is also a great strategy. If you’re a private tutor thinking up a new lesson, consider props other than candy or flashcards that have the same effect. Small toys, coins, or anything that can be manipulated on a table work great. If you’re a parent, try bringing up fractions while in the car, such as asking the fraction of blue cars in a parking lot.
Last but not least, remember to be optimistic and enthusiastic when asking the question and when your child gives the correct answer! With time and practice, your child will master fractions and any other math concept you throw their way.
Photo by Jimmie