Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beginning Fractions at School/Extending Concept at Home

The children who are in my math group started a new theme today. We are shifting from area/perimeter, measurement and scale to fractions.

For many of the children, this will be review for a while. We are starting at the beginning - what is a fraction? What are the parts of a fraction (numerator and denominator)? What does each part represent? For our hands-on introduction, I divided the class into different group sizes (we had groups of 1, 2, 3 and 4 children). Each group received 24 gems, and were instructed to divide them equally. We ended up with children having different fractions of the whole, 24/24, 12/24, 8/24, 6/24. We will worry about the formula for simplifying fractions later, but each child saw that 1 = 24/24, 1/2 = 12/24, 1/3 = 8/24 and 1/4 = 6/24. We talked about the term "equivalent".

Making fraction talk part of your child's everyday life is easy. Here are some ideas I got from the back of the book I read today, called Jump, Kangaroo, Jump!

- In the Kitchen: Divide 24 toothpicks into groups of 8 toothpicks each. How many groups are there? What fraction of the total is each group? What is 1/3 of 24? Use the same 24 toothpicks and try groups of 6 and 4.

- Snack Time: Divide a bowl of popcorn evenly between the members of your family. Eat any kernels that are left over. How many kernels did each person get? How many people are in your family? What fraction of the total number of kernels did each person get?

- Counting Pennies: Gather a pile of pennies and count them. Divide them equally between 2 friends. How many pennies make up half the total? Try dividing the pennies equally between 3 and 4 friends. How many pennies does each friend have and what fraction of the total number of pennies is that?