Introducing Equivalent Fractions

Hey guys! Last week I began introducing fractions to my 4th graders. I wanted to share with you how I introduce equivalent fractions to my students. When I first began teaching, I felt that I did not have enough time in the day to deal with using manipulatives in math. There were too many standards and it just took too long to deal with getting them out. I have come to realize that this was a grave mistake! Although using manipulatives does take extra time, it is worth it. Once the students can understand the concrete version of an idea, they tend to grasp the abstract version a little quicker. Saying that, I try to use manipulatives whenever I can.

Whenever I introduce equivalent fractions to my students I pull out the fraction bars. The fraction bar sets I have go from 1 whole to a denominator of 12. I have my fraction bars  in individual baggies, so that I can give each group a bag of fraction bars. (I try to pull these out the day before and have them sitting out ready to be used. This saves time during the lesson.) First, I pass out the bags of fraction bars and ask the students to sort them by color. Next, I  begin with the 1/2 fraction bar and model with the students how to find an equivalent fraction. I then let them use trial and error to find the remaining fractions. After this, I write all the fractions we found on the board. Next, I repeat this process with 1/3 & 1/4 bars. Many times the student will realize that there is a pattern happening. I will then talk about the pattern with the class and then announce that we are going to learn how to find equivalent fractions using math.

This process only takes about 15-25 minutes from passing out the bars to picking the bars back up. I hope that if you don't already use manipulatives in your classroom, that you will pull them out and try them. In my classroom, the reward outweighs the "trouble" of getting them out!


  1. Hi Amanda:

    I teach sixth grade and many of my kids NEED manipulatives to "see" concepts. I am glad you are a believer. I am sure your kids have a better foundation in fractions than many others! Lucky you! (And lucky fifth grade teachers who won't have to start all over!)

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  2. Love your hands-on ideas!

    I have nominated you for the Leibster award! Stop on by my blog to read more about it! {I hope you follow me if you are not already following me - I love following you!}


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