These activities have students separate geometric shapes into halves, thirds, and fourths.
Lets Get Cooking
GRAB My Fair Share
Eating My Part
- GO, Fractions, by Judith Bauer Stamper; ISBN 0-448-43113-0
- Piece+Part=Whole, by Scott Gifford; ISBN: 0-439-74054-1
- Safari Park, by Stuart J. Murphy; ISBN: 978-0-06-446245-7
- Seven Blind Mice, by Ed Young; ISBN: 0-590-46971-1
- Pizza Counting, by Christina Dobson; ISBN: 0-439-63243-9
- Give Me Half! by Stuart J. Murphy; ISBN: 0-590-13691-7
- Fraction Action, by Loreen Leedy; ISBN: 0-8234-1244-X
- Fraction Fun, by Davis A. Adler; ISBN:0-8234-1341-1
- The 512 Ants on Sullivan Street, by Carol A. Losi; ISBN: 0-439-79854-X
- Pizza Pat, by Rita Golden Gelman; ISBN: 0-679-99134-4
- Divide and Ride, by Stuart J. Murphy; ISBN: 978-0-06-446710-0
- Eating Fractions, by Bruce McMillan: ISBN: 0-590-43771-2
Background for Teachers
The most important aspect of fractions is learning and
understanding the relationship of part to whole. Students should be
able to understand parts of a whole within solid objects and parts of
a whole of a given set. They need to understand how many in each
group when separating given sets into equal groups and represent the
answer as a fraction. Finally, students should be encouraged to apply
their knowledge of parts of a whole and separating given sets to solve
word problems that have meaning in their lives. Through continuous
practicing of these concepts, students will gain a clearer understanding
of relationships of part to whole and representing it as a fraction.
Intended Learning Outcomes
1. Demonstrate a positive learning attitude towards mathematics.
Invitation to Learn
As the students come to class, ask them to graph a pastry on the
graph in the front of the room. Have four or five choices to pick
from (e.g., apple pie, blueberry muffin, glazed donut, chocolate chip
cookie, granola bar). Have each student pull a picture of a pastry out
of a Krispy Kreme box. Have each student attach his or her pastry to
the graph. Talk to the students about the different choices that are
represented on the chart and how many people are in each one. Talk
about the different main ingredients that are in the different choices.
The teacher can ask a certain pastry group questions about them.
For example, have the apple pie group come up in front of the class
and ask How many of you like red apples? You may want to have
only four students come up. Talk about the fraction that is represented.
Lets Get Cooking
This is an activity that connects identifying parts of a whole with
separating given sets into equal parts in a word problem format.
- Ask students if they have ever seen their mom make an apple
pie. Show students that you have brought ingredients today to
make pies. Show the students a basket of 10 apples. Lay out
five pie tins and mention you want to make five pies. Invite the
student to help you separate the apples into the pie plates so
that each pie has an equal amount of apples. Ask students how
they were able to determine how many apples would be in each
Continue this activity changing the number of apples to
separate. You can also change the types of fruit for the pies.
Tell the students they are going to be chefs today and are going
to be separating things into equal groups.
- Put students into groups of four. Give each group a recipe
box loaded with Lets Get Cooking Recipe Cards, a tub of
manipulatives and Lets Get Cooking Work Mats for each group of
- Have students work in cooperative groups pulling out recipe
cards and working together to solve the problem using the
manipulatives and work mats. Invite the students to share with
each other how they came up with the amounts for each group.
- Walk among the groups and ask students how they got their
answers. Ask them how many apples were put in each pie pan
to share the apples equally. Remind the students to re-read the
card and answer the question on the card.
- After sufficient practice as a group, have students answer cards
individually then pass the card to the person sitting on their
right. The students continue to do each of the cards in their
- For as many sessions as necessary, provide students with the
recipe box and different situations to answer. You can continue
with the cooking theme or use questions that would be of
interest in your class.
- When the majority of students are proficient at solving the
problems with manipulatives, hand out the recipe cards
again and do the same activity asking students to make a
picture or use words to solve the problem rather than using
the manipulatives. Some students may need to use the
manipulatives to help them make the picture. Walk around
observing the work and invite students to come up and share
their pictures and explanations with the class.
- To reinforce understanding of how many are in each set, each
dayor one day per weekplace one of the cards under a desk
or chair of a student for either the student or the class to solve
as the problem for the day. Have students explain how they
GRAB My Fair Share
This is another option for helping students understand how
many are in each set.
- Read Divide and Ride. Explain to students that they are
a part of the equal group. Have students get into groups
of two, three, or four players. Have the students select a
manipulative from the tub to use. A student takes a handful
of manipulatives. Each student needs a Grab My Fair Share
Recording Sheet to record points.
- Each student tries to separate his/her handful of manipulatives
into two equal groups. If it can be done, they score two points.
Next, students try to separate their same handful into four equal
groups. If they can, they score four more points. If a student
can make equal groups of two and four then he/she goes to the
bonus round where they will be separating them into equal
groups of three. If successful, they get a bonus of three points.
When that players turn is finished, the next player takes a turn.
- Talk about the different amounts that were best to grab. Ask
which would earn them the highest points? Keep playing the
game. Circle the numbers that score the most points.
Discuss the numbers that are best for sharing into equal groups.
Eating My Part
This activity gives students practice in separating geometric
shapes into halves, thirds, and fourths.
- Read Eating Fractions. Tell the students to look at the different
fractions shown in the book, (1/2, 1/3, 1/4). Discuss how each
of the parts makes a whole.
- Tell the students that they are going to get to make their own
pastry. Provide students with Eating My Part Pastries. Have
the students color or decorate their own pastry that will be
shared with the class.
- Once the pastries are completed then give them an Eating My
Part Fraction Card that will tell them how to separate their
pastry. This will allow the teacher to take a quick visual
assessment to see if the student understands parts of a whole.
Ask the students to tell how many parts of their pastry they
- Make a class bakery display where the students put all of the
pastry fractions into nice displays of fraction sets. (e.g., All of
the halves together, all of the thirds together, etc.).
- The teacher may need to adapt the recipe and fraction cards for
differentiated learning in the classroom.
- Some students may need more practice with manipulatives
before moving onto the symbolic level.
- Print out a fill-in format for students journal entry for those
who have writing difficulties.
- A struggling reader may need to have more pictures with the
words. Have a student partner that will assist them in the
reading portion of the cards or have the students work with a
partner when doing the manipulatives.
- An accelerated learner may need to have recipe and fraction
cards that are higher numbers and a little more difficult to
figure out. The learner can create his/her own separation
problem and illustrate it. Allow them to share it with a friend
or the class.
- Have students keep a fraction journal to write down the
different ways that they have seen parts of a whole in real life.
Have them draw a picture if they cannot explain it in words.
- Have students bring a small paper bag full of items that need to
be divided out. Remind the students that the items that they bring will not be returned. Have them create a recipe card for
their item. Bring to class and share.
- Have students practice sorting socks into equal piles, the
laundry, or other household items.
- Journaling Activity: Have students write about what their
favorite pie would be. Have them tell how many apples or
whatever fruit they choose to begin with. How many pies
would they make? How many pieces of the fruit would go into each pie? Would there be any left or would they be separated
- Use the pastry picture as a pre-assessment to the level of
understanding a student has for simple parts of a whole.
- Having a student do the problem of the day with the recipe card
under their desk each day will allow for a formal assessment of
the level of understanding of the individual personally.
- Use the problem of the day recipe card activity to make a quick
informal assessment. A variation of this would be to have the
student that received the card, read it and have the whole class
show how to solve it and have them turn it in to the teacher.
- When the students are playing Grab My Fair Share, the teacher
can roam the room and make a quick visual assessment of
understanding of the students of dividing into equal groups.
Carpenter, T.P., Frank, M.L., Jacobs, V.R., Fennema, E., & Empson, S.B. (1999). Childrens
Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction, Heinemann, Portsmouth, NH. 28, 41.
Direct Modeling is a common strategy that students use when
learning to do mathematical problems of any kind that paves the
way to more counting strategies. It is common for children's
mathematical thinking to naturally attempt to model the action
or relationships in math problems. They first directly model the
situations or relationships with physical actions or relationships are
at first somewhat visible but become less visible as children's thinking
matures. Thus, children's solution strategies are, first, exact models of
problems. As thinking progresses to using more counting strategies,
their representation becomes more abstract.
Johnson, D.W., and R.T. Johnson. Learning Together and Alone: Cooperative, Competitive and
Individualistic Learning (5th edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1999.
Cooperative learning enhances students enthusiasm for learning
and their determination to achieve academic success. Cooperative
learning provides unique learning experiences for students and offers
opportunities for students to learn through speaking and listening
processes as well as through reading and writing processes. In
cooperative learning situations, students interact, assist one another
with learning tasks, and promote one anothers success. Students are
held accountable for their own academic progress and task completion.