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Fractions: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

A fraction gives information using two parts. In this lesson you will learn the two parts of a fraction and what they mean. You will also learn how to read a fraction.

Parts of a Whole

What is a fraction? A fraction is a number that represents a part of a whole. Here are some examples of fractions:


list of fractions


What is a fraction for? Well, imagine I made a cake. Some of my friends like chocolate frosting, some of them like vanilla frosting, and some of them like coconut frosting. I decided to use all three. I split the cake into three equal parts, and frosted one part chocolate, one part vanilla, and one part coconut.

fractions of cake

I can use a fraction to say how much of the cake has chocolate frosting. I can also use a fraction to say how much of the cake has vanilla frosting and how much has coconut frosting. This is just one example of a time it is helpful to use fractions.

Fractions of Cake

My cake is labeled with three fractions. We will look at the fraction on the chocolate section of cake:


fraction of chocolate


Reading the Fraction

When you read a fraction, first you say the name of the top number. Then you say the bottom number as an ordinal, or positional number (third, fourth, fifth, sixth, etc.). So the fraction on the chocolate section of the cake, which has a 1 on top and a 3 on the bottom, is said 'one-third.'

Denominator

Now that we know how to read the fraction, we should find out what the numbers in the fraction mean. Let's start with the bottom number. The bottom number is called the denominator. The denominator tells us how many equal parts the whole has been broken into. My cake is broken into 3 equal parts, so the denominator of my fraction is 3.

Numerator

The top number of the fraction is called the numerator. The numerator tells how many parts the fraction represents. The numerator of the chocolate fraction is 1. This tells me that 1 part of the cake has chocolate frosting. One-third means 1 part out of 3.

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