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Teaching Kids to Make Connections With Fractions

relating fractions to time, money, and rulers

Do your students struggle with fractions? One way to insure that your students do well is to make sure you help them make connections when teaching fractions. We need to help our students make connections and see how fractions are used in everyday life.

In an effort to help my students make connections to fractions in the real world, I typed up this math sort to use when teaching my fraction unit.  I gave this activity to my class towards the end of the unit after we had discussed fractions on clocks, fractions in measurement, and fractional parts of a dollar.

sorting fractions by topic
Many kids sort their cards by topic.

Sorting Fractions by Topic

My class was told to cut out the cards and sort them, but I didn’t tell them how to sort them.  I wanted to see what would happen. 

Not surprisingly, a lot of my kiddos put all the clocks into a group, all the coins in a group, etc. Even though this is not what I’m looking for, it gives me insight to their level of thinking. These are the students I need to gear my instruction towards.

sorting by fractional relationship
This is the level you want kids to reach.

Sorting by Fractional Relationship

The picture above shows what I was looking for and I was amazed to see that many of my kids sorted the cards by the fractional relationship.  This was wonderful because I could tell they were making the connections between math concepts I was looking for.

Taking it Further

With some guidance, everyone sorted their cards the “correct way”.  Then we added the sorts to our math journals and the kids explained the relationships.

This was an important step for my students. They needed another opportunity to see the connections between half-inch, half-past on the clock, and half a dollar.

representing one-half in money, telling time, and measurement
representing one-fourth in money, telling time, and measurement
representing three-fourths in money, telling time, and measurement

This was an enlightening activity.  Even though some of my students really had to stretch to make the connections, I was glad we did this.  I was thrilled when my students had an aha moment when the connections are made.

It is very rewarding to see some higher level thinking taking place. My students were able to make a connection to the math topic they learned in school to fractions they see in real life.

If you would like to try this sorting activity when teaching fractions, you can download this freebie at my TpT store. Leave me a comment and let me know how it works with your kids.

What activities do you use to help your students make connections when teaching fractions?

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Hi, I’m Deirdre. Thanks for dropping by. I love supporting 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers with simple and engaging activities. Let me help you make teaching easier.


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