“Dad used 3 eggs, how many are left in the carton?”
“If I made you an egg sandwich for lunch, would you like it cut into halves or quarters?”
“And if I packed a chocolate in for you too, will you share it and go half-half with your sister?”
From the carton of 6 eggs you’ve got in the fridge to the many blocks that make up a whole slab of chocolate, as we go about our day we’re constantly applying our knowledge of fractions, without realising it. But for learners who are just now learning at school that two halves equal a whole and two quarters equal a half, fractions may not be the easiest mathematical concept to grasp, especially if they’re being taught how to do so in an abstract way.
Why not use what you’ve got at home to make fractions somewhat easier to understand? And as we’ve written before, according to the Montessori method of education, having kids use a “constructive” or “discovery” model, i.e. having them work with actual materials they can see, touch, manipulate and physically explore so as to visualise a particular concept, will help them understand this concept better.
So here are a few ideas, as shown in the video above, to test out at home with your kids:
1. Play around with fractions at meal time by asking them if they’d like their sandwich for cut into halves or quarters. Alternatively, when dishing their food for supper, ask them how many potatoes, chicken cubes or spoonfuls of mash they’d like. Then have them look at their plate of food, count how many parts they have of a whole and divide their plate into halves, quadrants, etc.
2. Use fruit, made up of or cut into many segments, to show them a whole is made up of many parts, and allow them to play around with the fruit to make up a whole, a half and a quarter.
3. Use a carton of 6 or more eggs to visualise that 3/6 is also equal to ½, so that they understand there’s more than one way of seeing and then writing out the same thing.
4. Use building blocks with dots on them to add and subtract fractions. Because they’re already made up of 8, 6, 4, 2 or 1 dot(s), and they’re broken down in proportion, they can just be physically added or subtracted in front of them, for kids to then count how many dots there are after going through the sum they’re presented with.
5. By using a slab of chocolate, or something similarly made up of many parts, you can do more complicated sums for them to visualise and then work out. Try this, with a slab made up of 21 blocks of chocolate:
If dad ate 6/21 blocks of chocolate, mom had 3/21, and Joe had 4/21, how many blocks are left for me?
Have you ever tried using real-life examples and things at home to help your child understand fractions? What did you use? Tell us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we may add your examples to the list.
- WATCH: This DIY is the easiest and simplest way to learn fractions
- WATCH: An easy way to teach your child the basics of fractions if they're a visual learner
- Real-life maths or abstract maths? Why abstraction is so amazing
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