Research tells us that the best way for children to learn about fractions is through plenty of hands-on modeling. Teaching with these activities allows your K 3 students to experience fractions on a tactile level.
Use chocolate, a tasty manipulative, to demonstrate three basic and important ideas about fractions.
Fractions can be parts of a whole. Break a Hershey's™ bar neatly along those lines the company so thoughtfully provides. The resulting 12 pieces are all equal parts, each piece 1/12 of what was one chocolate bar. These equal parts are fractions.
Fractions are equal parts. Break another Hershey's™ bar into three jagged pieces. Ask children to compare these pieces with the 12 equal pieces from the first candy bar and describe how they differ. (These parts are not equal.) Explain that you´ve created pieces rather than fractions.
Fractions can be part of a set. Take six M&M's™ five brown and one yellow. What fraction of the set is yellow? One of six equal parts, or 1/6!
After youngsters have had practice with fraction models, have them design a classroom fraction museum. Provide the class with plenty of manipulatives. Good sources for a wide variety of materials are Delta Education (800-442-5444) and ETA (800-445-5985). Direct each child to use these manipulatives to create his or her own fraction exhibit on a desk. The exhibits should comprise a variety of models, each with a sign that names the fraction in both number and word form (1/3; one third).
While youngsters design their exhibits, ask such questions as: "Can you show the same fraction two different ways? What is the smallest fraction you can show? Can you show that fraction as part of a group?" You might want to require certain minimums, such as asking everyone to include models of 1/2, 1/4, and 1/8.
Have each child share his or her exhibit. Ask such questions as, "How does this model show 3/4? Which fractions here are part of sets? How else could you show 7/8?" For a challenge, have kids deliberately mix up their exhibit signs, inviting the audience to match up the correct sign with its corresponding model. You will find that your class´s fraction knowledge builds with each subsequent presentation!