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Glitter in Third
A Teaching Blog by Kelly Chapman
7 Hands-On Activities for Teaching Equivalent Fractions
December 31, 2020 By Kelly Chapman
Equivalent Fractions Activities
How many of you can say you instantly see the panic in your students’ eyes when you say something along the lines of, “I’m going to be teaching equivalent fractions today!” or, “Who’s ready to practice some equivalent fractions?”
Your kids hear “fractions” and get nervous , then you put some big, scary word like “equivalent” that they can hardly pronounce in front of it and you’ve officially lost them.
Been there. Done that. You’re not alone!
The key to teaching equivalent fractions is to utilize methods and activities that are not only fun for your students, but are actually fun for you to teach, as well.
You may not realize it, but when your students see you having fun with what you’re teaching, yes, even if it’s teaching equivalent fractions, that enthusiasm is sure to be carried over to their learning.
This can be a tough topic to get your students excited about , but I have 7 super fun and engaging activity ideas for teaching equivalent fractions that I know everyone will love!
By the way, make sure to grab my FREE equivalent fractions color by number to use during your math block.
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Equivalent Fractions for Google Classroom
This product includes 8 different activities that are compatible with Google Classroom.
Students will practice matching or identifying fractions equal to 1, ½, ⅓, and ¼ by completing short answer and drag-and-drop questions!
The fun part for you about teaching equivalent fractions with this resource?
No prep, paper-less, and an answer key is included.
Now that’s fun in my book! 🙂
In all seriousness, your students will love the digital aspect of these activities , using comparison pictures of pizzas, cookies, and all the interactive features.
You can learn more about the resource here !
FREE Equivalent Fractions Color-by-Number
Do you know about my FREE equivalent fractions color-by-number (if not, you can read the post here !)
Fill out the form below to get them sent immediately to your inbox !
These equivalent fraction color-by-numbers will be PERFECT in your classroom.
Students color equivalent fractions in specific colors on a number key , and a mystery picture is revealed when they finish!
Who knew that equivalent fractions could be FUN?! (And super cute!).
Equivalent Fractions on a Number Line
Another Google Classroom resource I have for teaching equivalent fractions is this digital interactive number line product!
I love the visual concept this resource utilizes.
Displaying 2 different number lines at the same time, along with different fractions, allows your students to grasp the concept of what’s equivalent and what’s not simply by the positioning on the number lines.
I also love using number lines for teaching equivalent fractions because it’s a super helpful tool students can use to better understand the sizing of fractions .
For example, although 3/6 may seem larger than ½, it’s the same! Or, 1/10 may seem larger than ⅕ to them.
And of course, this product is already prepped for you along with an answer key! Yay!
Check it out at my TPT store here.
Sometimes it’s refreshing to take a step back from technology while still being able to incorporate some hands-on learning.
There are multiple activities within the notebook , including identifying if certain fractions are equivalent or not, coloring and utilizing fraction bars, as well as brainstorming fractions that are equal to a certain whole number.
You could always incorporate these activities into small group or whole group settings , or make them a part of morning work!
My favorite thing about this product is that it comes differentiated to meet the needs of all your learners.
There are different options for students to take notes themselves, fill in blanks, or can be provided with the information before starting .
1 piece of paper for these activities can be used for 2 students, saving you much time at the copy machine! Win! 🙂
Check it out here!
Interactive Notebook/Number Line
If you want to go ahead and mesh the 2 prior resources I just mentioned together… here’s your product!
This interactive notebook material comes with 6 different activities that focus on plotting a specific fraction on a number line, and then creating equivalent fractions using a specific denominator.
This resource also comes differentiated as described previously, making it a great fit for all your individual learners!
Equivalent Fractions Bingo
Bingo – a free option for teaching equivalent fractions!
There are so many free Bingo card generators out there.
Create your own calling cards with multiple different fractions – I recommend making a table in Excel or Google Doc to keep them organized!
Following this, create multiple Bingo cards by inputting fractions into your generator .
I recommend going through your calling card fractions and creating 2-3 equivalent fraction options for each calling card fraction.
For example, if your calling card is ½, create at least 2-3 equivalent fractions for that specific card – 3/6, 5/10, 10/20, etc.
This will make the cards a bit more challenging for the students , instead of there just being one equivalent fraction answer.
However, feel free to adjust the game to meet your students’ needs. 🙂
Bingo is always a favorite!
Virtual Fraction Tiles & Pattern Blocks
I love these free virtual fraction tiles for teaching equivalent fractions from Didax – a great option to still make learning interactive if you are faced with distance learning this semester!
You can utilize this manipulative as individuals, in small groups, or even as a whole group.
Name a fraction and have your students create an equivalent fraction by using the virtual fraction tiles. This free resource gives you 1 whole, ½, ¼, ⅓, ⅕, ⅙, ⅛, 1/10, 1/12, and 1/16.
I recommend having them build your starting fraction, and then creating any equivalent fraction with the tiles.
Bonus: This is a great method for working on adding fractions, too!
You can also try out these virtual pattern blocks from Didax, as well!
Just as you can use the fraction tiles, give your students an equivalent fraction to build.
For example, by using the pattern blocks, build an equivalent fraction for ¾.
This would be a great opportunity to show the difference between numerators and denominators while teaching equivalent fractions!
Memory Matching & Card Games
An oldie… but a goodie for teaching equivalent fractions. 🙂
Create your own version of memory by using index cards with different equivalent fractions written on each .
You can make the game as small or as large as you’d like, but I would typically recommend starting with a list of 10 fractions and then creating 1 equivalent fraction for each.
This allows each small group of students to create a 4×5 array of the cards .
Adjust your amount of cards depending on the learning needs of your students.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to laminate!
You can always use this deck for a small game of “Go, Fish!” too! I would definitely suggest creating more cards for the deck if you’d like to go that route!
Another suggestion would be to add “KABOOM” cards to the deck for students to play Kaboom !
As students draw a fraction card from the deck, have them name an equivalent fraction to that card. If they get it correct, they keep the card. If they draw a “KABOOM” card, they must put all their cards back in the deck.
I hope you can find a bright spot in teaching equivalent fractions by using some of these hands-on activities!
Don’t forget to read my blog post all about the best fraction picture books – available here !
I know teaching this concept can be difficult for students to catch on to , but don’t forget, they will have as much fun as you do, so have tons! 🙂
Which activities are you excited to try for teaching equivalent fractions? Share below!
Singapore math support and resources
Teaching Equivalent Fractions
Equivalent Fractions is a concept that is generally introduced in the 3rd grade. In the US 3rd grade Common Core (CCSS.Math.3.NF.3):
Explain equivalence of fractions in special cases, and compare fractions by reasoning about their size. a. Understand two fractions as equivalent (equal) if they are the same size, or the same point on a number line. b. Recognize and generate simple equivalent fractions, e.g., 1/2 = 2/4, 4/6 = 2/3. Explain why the fractions are equivalent, e.g., by using a visual fraction model. c. Express whole numbers as fractions, and recognize fractions that are equivalent to whole numbers. Examples: Express 3 in the form 3 = 3/1; recognize that 6/1 = 6; locate 4/4 and 1 at the same point of a number line diagram. d. Compare two fractions with the same numerator or the same denominator by reasoning about their size. Recognize that comparisons are valid only when the two fractions refer to the same whole. Record the results of comparisons with the symbols >, =, or <, and justify the conclusions, e.g., by using a visual fraction model.
This is further extended in the 4th grade (CCSS.Math.4.NF):
Extend understanding of fraction equivalence and ordering. 1. Explain why a fraction a/b is equivalent to a fraction (n x a)/(n x b) by using visual fraction models, with attention to how the number and size of the parts differ even though the two fractions themselves are the same size. Use this principle to recognize and generate equivalent fractions. 2. Compare two fractions with different numerators and different denominators, e.g., by creating common denominators or numerators, or by comparing to a benchmark fraction such as 1/2. Recognize that comparisons are valid only when the two fractions refer to the same whole. Record the results of comparisons with symbols >, =, or <, and justify the conclusions, e.g., by using a visual fraction model.
The concept of equivalent fractions seems simple – just multiply the numerator and denominator by the same factor to get another fraction that is equivalent to the origin. However it is not trivial at all, and with intentional design in the instruction delivery, the topic can be introduced in a way that strengthens the students’ reasoning and inductive skills and at the same time, lay a stronger foundation for the future, especially in fraction arithmetic and algebraic manipulations.
Logic Reasoning and Induction
When teaching equivalence of fractions, teachers often start by stating the procedural rules. “Whatever you do to the numerator, you’d do for the denominator”. So,
Not only is this not helping in the conceptual understanding of equivalent fractions, but introducing the topic in this way wastes a perfectly good opportunity for the students to exercise their logic reasoning and induction muscles and discover for themselves what equivalence means, which fractions are equivalent and how to find them.
Another better way is to use bar models or fraction strips. The fraction strip paper folding exercise which we first wrote about after a lesson study at a local school, is what we generally use to introduce the topic of equivalent fractions.
First, have the students fold a paper strip in half and note that there are two equal parts. Then fold it again and note that now we have 4 equal parts.
- Without folding it again, ask the students how many equal parts do they think they will have if we were to fold the paper strip a third time. Some might guess 6, a natural progression from 2 and 4, while others might reason that the pattern is multiplying by two, not adding.
- Next, have the students shade the fraction 1/2, 2/4, 4/8 etc on different strips of paper and paste them on the same blank paper, on top of each other. An example is shown below.
- What do you notice?
- Is there a pattern?
- Is there a rule?
- Extend the exercise to other fractions pictorially, using different shapes.
Let the students have fun exploring equivalent fractions by deriving their own “rules” through induction. To read more about our experience using the fraction strip exercise, see our previous post here .
Equivalent Fractions on the Number Line
Generally, students first learn about equivalent fraction using an area model, e.g.
Through area models, student observed “how the number and size of the parts differ even though the two fractions themselves are the same size” (CCSS.Math.4.NF.1).
The next step is to transfer their knowledge to the number line (see our previous post on the importance of understanding fractions on the number line ). However, many students have problem visualizing equivalent fractions on the number line. For example, it is not intuitive to see that 2/3 and 4/6 are the same point on the number line.
Here again, the bar model or fraction strips will come in very handy. To make it easier to visualize, teachers/parents can present the fraction strips along with the number lines.
In this way, it is very intuitive to see how the concepts of equivalent fractions can be transferred to the number line.
The case of 1
The case of 1 is often overlooked by teachers, but the concept is so important. This simply refers to the fact that the whole number 1 is also made up of equivalent fractions, e.g.
This is extended to other whole numbers, e.g.
and even further to
The concept is important when the students start to apply their knowledge of fractions in addition and subtraction and other fraction manipulations. For example, in fraction subtraction, many students resort to converting the mixed fraction to an improper fraction before proceeding to subtract, and finally convert the resulting improper fraction back to mixed.
5 1/3 – 2/3 = 16/3 – 2/3 = 14/3 = 4 2/3
If the students understood the concept that whole numbers also have equivalent fractions, they can do a “re-grouping” as follows
5 1/3 – 2/3 = 4 4/3 – 2/3 = 4 2/3
Lastly, some special notes to be mindful about when teaching equivalent fractions.
Equivalent fractions is not always about multiply up. It is also important to learn that simplifying fractions to lower terms is also finding equivalent fractions. Fraction simplification is very important when it comes to fraction arithmetic (add, subtract), algebra and general word problems.
Don’t say ‘cancel’ or ‘reduce’
Terms like ‘cancel’ or ‘reduce’ give the impression that the “size” is somehow reduced and can be confusing to young students who have not fully understood equivalence yet. Instead, use the universal term ‘simplify’.
Want to see a fun way to teach Equivalent Fractions using an interactive manipulative? Check out the Fraction Wheel App here .
Equivalent fractions is such an important concept for students to understand, however under the pressure of time, it is sometimes tempting for teachers and parents to skip to procedural methods and not emphasize on conceptual understanding. However with some thoughts and design, the topic can be a fun way for students to discover more facts about fractions that they have not realized before and at the same time strengthen their confidence in fraction manipulations for the future.
This article is part of a series of blog posts on Fractions:
- >> Read the next post on Fractions: On Comparing Fractions
- << Read the previous post on Fractions: Fractions on the Number Line
- Or start from the beginning: Understanding Fractions as Equal Parts
More Fraction Resources
For more fraction resources, refer to our main fractions page .
1 thought on “Teaching Equivalent Fractions”
This was just what I needed as I move on to fractions for my students!
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