How to Add 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.

In this lesson, you will learn two rules for adding fractions: finding a common denominator and keeping the denominator the same. Then, you will practice adding fractions.

Putting the Parts Together

Sandy, Lou, and Travis are going on a treasure hunt. They have a problem: The treasure map was broken into 12 pieces, and they each only have a few pieces of the map! Sandy has 3 parts out of 12, Lou has 4 parts out of 12, and Travis has 1 part out of 12. They need to find out how much of the map they have. They can do this by writing their map parts as fractions, which are parts of a whole, then adding them together.

pieces of the map

Two Rules About Adding Fractions

Before we add the fractions for the treasure hunters, we need to know two rules about adding fractions.

Rule 1: You Need a Common Denominator

You can only add fractions that have a common denominator. The denominator is the number on the bottom of the fraction, the one that tells how many parts make up the whole. Fractions have a common denominator when they all have the same number on the bottom.

In the treasure map fractions, we know that the denominator is 12 because the map was broken into 12 pieces. So, all three fractions have 12 as a denominator. Since they have a common denominator, we can add the fractions together.

Rule 2: The Denominator Must Stay the Same

When adding fractions, you add the numerators together. The numerator is the top number that tells how many parts the fraction represents. For example, in Sandy's fraction, the numerator is 3 because she has 3 pieces of the map.

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