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November 3, 2009 Freaky Fractions: Using Circles to Teach Operations with Fractions By Stacey Burt

    Not too long ago I was looking for a creative way to integrate art into my math lesson on fractions. After consulting with a colleague, Kelly Allen, I was able to take a lesson she had used with her students and adapt it to meet the needs of my 6th graders.

    Using Ed Emberley's book, Picture Pie: A Circle Drawing Book, I was able to show my students examples of art work created with fractions of circles. These examples inspired my students as they created their own fraction art. The book is wonderful and very engaging. My students were instantly inspired. Using black construction paper and neon colored circles my students created pictures using patterns found in Ed Emberley’s book or those of their own design. This was the first step in the process/lesson.

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    I required that students design two pieces of art work. After they had completed that task, the students then had to create various math equations to determine how many whole circles they actually used for each piece of art work. I explained that they had "deconstructed" circles into fractions to create their art, now they had to mathematically prove how many whole circles they would actually have if they could “reconstruct” their fractions back into circles. During this lesson students developed equations using addition, subtraction, and multiplication of fractions, not to mention they were extremely proud of the art they had created.

    Listed below are links to the books that I used for the lesson:

    Ed Emberley also has an interactive website that is very helpful for demonstrating the process of creating circle fraction art:

    For students that may require extra practice with fractions, check out the printables from

    Enjoy the books, lesson, and the art. Your students will love the challenge.



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