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Teaching Basic Fractions to Beginners

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Matching Fractions

Matching Fractions

How to Teach Kids Fractions

The objective of this lesson is to teach children who have never been exposed to fractions before how to match them.

Matching Fractions With Cups

  1. Label some containers with fractions: 1 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1/4 cup. We used bowls in the photo above.
  2. Have the child choose a container. Tell the child what the fraction is on the container they have chosen. Help the child find the measuring cup that matches the fraction on the container they've chosen. If for example, the child has chosen the container with the 1/2 cup label on it, have them match the measuring cup that is labeled 1/2 cup.
  3. Measure something in the cup and pour it into the matching container. We used water. You could also use beans or rice.
  4. Help the child continue matching measuring cups to labeled containers. Practice saying the names of the fractions. Practice pouring measuring materials into the matching container.

What to Do Next

Expand on the activity next to help the child apply what they've learned.

Make it fun: Let the child choose what they want to measure next.

Make it meaningful: Let the child help cook and practice measuring the ingredients from the recipe.

Challenge: Ask the student which measuring cup has more.

Circles cut into equal parts to learn fractions

Circles cut into equal parts to learn fractions

Cut Circles Into Sections

Help children understand the meaning of fractions, by cutting a circle into parts.

  1. Begin by cutting out a whole circle.
  2. Cut the circle into 4 equal parts, or draw sections and have the child cut the circle into 4 equal parts.
  3. Ask the child to count the parts. After the child counts and indicates there are 4 parts, write the number 4 on each section with a line over it. Now write a 1 above the line. Explain to the child that each piece of the circle represents 1 of 4 parts.
  4. Label each section of the circle with 1/4.

Repeat this activity cutting a circle in half, thirds, and eighths.

1/4 of a pizza from Learning Resources

1/4 of a pizza from Learning Resources

Pizza Fractions

Above is a photo of our Learning Resources pizza fraction game. It has the fractions printed on the back of each pizza slice. Kids love to use the play pizza cutter to pretend to cut up the pizza on the serving tray and serve the slices. They are practicing fractions while having fun playing.

Back to Measuring Cups

Continue to build on the child's knowledge of fractions by exploring how measuring cups are also simply parts of one whole cup.

  1. You can show the child that the 1/2 cup will fill up the 1 cup by filling it and pouring it in twice because each 1/2 cup is 2 parts of one whole cup.
  2. Dump the water out of the 1 cup measuring cup and try again using the 1/3 cup. Fill up the 1 cup by filling up the 1/3 cup 3 times and pouring each into the 1 cup.
  3. Continue the process using 1/4 cup and the 1/8th cup. By doing this, kids can visualize how the parts make up a whole cup.
Clear measuring cup for exploring fractions

Clear measuring cup for exploring fractions

Taking Measuring and Fractions a Step Further

Another idea for taking hands-on exploration of fractions a step further is to use a clear measuring cup that has each section of the whole cup marked on it. Take a moment to look at the lines and read the measurements with the child.

  1. Talk about how 1/2 cup is half of the way to the whole cup mark.
  2. Using a different 1/2 cup measuring cup, measure and pour 1/2 cup colored water into the clear measuring cup.
  3. With the clear measuring cup on a level surface, have the child observe that it is filled to the 1/2 cup line.
  4. Pour in another half cup of colored water and have the child observe that it's now filled to the 1 cup line.

Continue this activity using other measurements, such as 1/3 or 1/4. This activity will help reinforce the concepts learned earlier. Children will see that it will take filling the 1/3 cup 3 times to fill the clear container to 1 cup.

Fractions for Young Children

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