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Best Children’s Books and Activities for Teaching Fractions

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Cara is a mother of two young children and has taught second through fifth grade.

A selection of fraction books for kids.

A selection of fraction books for kids.

Many children and adults are intimidated by fractions. I used to be one of those people, until I realized how much fun it can be to teach and learn about fractions. I believe that a combination of using picture books and hands-on activities is the best way for students to learn fractions.

This article provides a list of picture books about fractions along with related games and activities to use in your classroom. Teachers by nature are creative beings. I'm sure that you will come up with wonderful ideas to use in your classroom in addition to the ones that I have shared here with you.

Children's Books About Fractions

  1. Piece=Part=Portion: Fractions=Decimals=Percents by Scott Gifford. This book is simplistic in its approach to teaching the relationship between fractions, decimals, and percents. With a simple photograph of an everyday object along with the corresponding fraction and its decimal and percent equivalent, children are able to easily connect the relationship between the three.
  2. Fraction Action by Loreen Leedy. In Fraction Action, Loreen Leedy entices her readers with cartoon illustrations of animals in a classroom. It begins with the students looking at various fractions, from halves to thirds to fourths. The students are able to share their own life connections to the halves, thirds, and fourths that they see in their everyday lives. As the book continues, the fraction concepts increase in difficulty. Ideas such as fraction of a set and fair share are covered.
  3. Working With Fractions by David A. Adler. This fun and colorful book is filled with wonderful opportunities to expand vocabulary. Terms such as numerator and denominator are paired with colorful pictorial representations that are sure to help those tough concepts come alive for elementary children. The story concludes with some introduction to adding, subtracting, and multiplying fractions.
  4. Give Me Half by Stuart J. Murphy. Give Me Half is a wonderful book to introduce children to the concept of fractions. Its simplistic language and basic information about sharing objects with others is the perfect beginning for a fractions unit.
Little bags of candy are great for teaching fractions of a set!

Little bags of candy are great for teaching fractions of a set!

Activities and Games for Teaching Fractions to Kids

Using hands-on manipulatives is a great way for students to better understand math concepts. The more that students are able to move objects around, play games, discuss their thinking, or build and create things, the more concretely they will understand the concept. Here are a few ways that you can incorporate hands-on activities to help your students understand fractions.

Remember that there are many levels to teaching fractions. Listed below are a few ideas from the beginning stages of understanding to a more advanced understanding.

Fraction Match-Up

This is great for equivalent fractions. Teaching children equivalent fractions always seems to throw off their thinking. How can one half be the same as two fourths? Using fraction bars to help students find bars that are "equal" to each other is a great starting point. It will also most likely lead to a conversation about some fractions being very close to equivalent but not exactly equal.

Fraction of a Set

This is probably one of the hardest concepts for my students to get. It is very difficult for them to understand that the whole is the entire group, while the part or fraction is the individual pieces. I love using colored candy for this type of concept.

  1. Give each student an individual bag of Skittles or M&Ms candies.
  2. Talk about the "bag of candy" being the whole group of candy.
  3. When you empty the bag, discuss how these are the parts that make up the whole bag of candy.
  4. Show how you can represent that 8/14 are blue candies or 5/14 are red candies.

This then opens the discussion to numerator and denominator and possibly even equivalent fractions, depending on the level of your students.

Fractions in Our Lives

Making real-world connections is critical for deeper knowledge and understanding. Create a classroom poster or bulletin board display where children are able to add ideas about fractions, decimals or percents. It can be a picture or an example of one of these from a newspaper, magazine or label, an idea that they have or even a spot where they can post questions about fractions.

You can model this first and then send students off to work with partners or small groups. I love the idea of children displaying their work on small posters with their thinking (drawings, examples, explanations, etc.) and then allowing them to do a gallery walk. A gallery walk is when children take time to walk around and look at the display of posters and then go back to their seats to share what they saw or write a short reflection of their learning.

Teaching Fractions

Fractions Are Fun, Not Overwhelming!

Remember that teaching and learning fractions doesn't have to be overwhelming or scary. Children love to use a variety of tools to help that learning stay with them. The more variety that you incorporate in your lessons, the more your students will retain the information. Picture books are a great starting point for learning about a variety of math concepts, including fractions.

Students Love Learning Fractions With the Cupid Shuffle

Comments

cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 02, 2012:

Thanks tgleason, I've not heard of that one, I'm going to have to check it out.

tgleason from Idaho and Michigan on April 01, 2012:

Great hub! Tiger Math, I can't remember the author, is a great book to use as well.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on March 12, 2012:

Thanks! Unfortunately many people do but hopefully these resources will help.

Danette Watt from Illinois on March 11, 2012:

Ah, fractions. I never found them that intimidating to do. Voted up, teach!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on March 11, 2012:

Thanks htodd. Glad you found it useful.

htodd from United States on March 11, 2012:

Great books..Thanks for sharing

cardelean (author) from Michigan on March 10, 2012:

You are very welcome freelanceauthor! Glad you stopped by to read and comment.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on March 10, 2012:

Yes candy is always a great motivator! My niece and nephew both went to Montessori school for preschool. They have a great philosophy. It's great the way that learning is just naturally embedded in their play.

freelanceauthor on March 10, 2012:

Some nice tips here. Thanks for sharing the techniques in teaching our children some Math problems.

Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on March 08, 2012:

One thing that I love about Montessori preschools is they teach fractions without ever using the word fraction. It's all conceptual, so that when they are introduced to it in elementary school they have a good foundation. My kids always love to learn stuff with candy, so I will have to try that method!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on March 08, 2012:

You're welcome randomcreative. Thanks for the comments, I always appreciate your feedback!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 08, 2012:

Doc Sonic is definitely right. This is a great resource for parents as well as teachers. Thanks for the great resources as always!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on March 08, 2012:

Great ideas on the sticker sheets! We use unifix cubes and some other linking blocks too, similar to legos. Thanks nifwlseirff.

cardelean (author) from Michigan on March 08, 2012:

Yes, the candy is always a great incentive, although I'll admit that I'm not fond of using it a lot in class. Thanks for passing it along to your husband!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on March 08, 2012:

My students all know that song so I thought it was a great addition to teaching fractions. Thanks for your votes up!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on March 08, 2012:

Thanks clevercat, glad you stopped by.

Kymberly Fergusson from Germany on March 08, 2012:

Good tips and some excellent books! Candy is always a good motivator, as are sticker sheets that can be cut up, or lego blocks that can be pulled apart/put together.

Alissa Roberts from Normandy, TN on March 07, 2012:

Great tools to teaching kids fractions! My husband was just talking about reviewing fractions with his class this week so I will pass this info on to him. I like the teaching with candy the best and I'm sure the kids do too! :) Job well done - voted up and useful!

Dianna Mendez on March 07, 2012:

The cupid fraction shuffle is a great fun way to teach fractions. I love it! You are so right in stating that factions take some time to comprehend. These books and suggestions will help in teaching the concept. Voted up!

Rachel Vega from Massachusetts on March 07, 2012:

Candy as a teaching tool? I LOVE IT!

On a serious note, these are great suggestions. Definitely useful. Great!

cardelean (author) from Michigan on March 07, 2012:

Absolutely! In fact I strongly encourage parents to work at home with their kids. My 3 and 5 year olds love to read these books with me. I feel like even though much of it may be over their heads right now, when they get to that point in school they will be that much further ahead. Thanks for your wonderful suggestion!

Glen Nunes from Cape Cod, Massachusetts on March 07, 2012:

I know your hub is aimed at school teachers, but these books and activities could be used by parents at home, couldn't they? I think parents should try to help reinforce what's been taught at school. Good hub. Anything to help educate the little ones gets voted up.