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How to Model Fraction Equivalents with Fraction Strips

How to Model Fraction Equivalents with Fraction Strips
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  • 0:00 Fraction Strips
  • 1:03 Preparing Fraction Strips
  • 2:02 Like Components
  • 2:58 Unlike Components
  • 3:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

Fraction strips are a great tool to help teachers show students equivalent fractions. In this lesson, we go over how to make fraction strips, as well as how to incorporate their use in the classroom for both like and unlike denominators.

Fraction Strips

One of the first places where many students begin to struggle with math is fractions. Sure, halves are pretty easy, but unless concepts are clearly displayed, there is a real chance that by the time it comes to adding different denominators, students will be wondering if all this actually makes sense. Luckily, we have fraction strips. These are simply lengths of construction paper that can be cut, folded, or otherwise divided to represent fractions. They allow teachers to show students relative differences between fractions of a whole, which in turn allows them to better visualize and internalize the differences.

In this lesson, we're going to look at ways to use fraction strips. Starting with appropriate types of fraction strips, we will then see how these tools can be used to demonstrate concepts for fractions that would otherwise require a relatively large amount of math for students to do on top of understanding the concepts. Finally, we'll use some examples to demonstrate just how well fraction strips can work for this.

Preparing Fraction Strips

When preparing to introduce fraction strips to the class, it's best to start with relatively easy operations. Also, let's be honest - preparing a class set of fraction strips can be a time-consuming process. Instead, have the students make the strips themselves from different colors of construction paper and a ruler. Have students make strips of 12 inches, and ask them how to divide those strips into halves, thirds, quarters, and sixths. You can have them make a different set for learning fifths, tenths, and other fractions.

Ask them how many of each fraction make up parts of the whole in order to really instill the idea that if the numerator is equal to the denominator, then the real value of the whole fraction is one. In this respect, equivalent fractions to one should be the first values that are drilled for the students. Once students demonstrate understanding of fractions that are equivalent to one, they are ready to move on to the next phase of the exercise.

Using Fraction Strips for Like Components

Now, let's use the fraction strips to show differences between different fractions. We'll start with halves and quarters. Ask each student to pull out a 1/2 foot strip. Now ask them to clear their desks of everything but the 1/4 pieces and the one 1/2 strip. Then ask them to put down enough quarter pieces to make the same length as the half piece. Encourage them to use whatever means necessary to make the adjustment, whether it's the ruler, just eyeballing it, or placing the quarter pieces on top of the half piece.

On the board, work through the math that shows 2/4 being equal to one 1/2. Ask them if they understand that you can trade in 2 quarter pieces for a half piece. Feel free to convince them that the half piece is easier to carry. Now repeat the process to find the equivalent of 1/2 with the sixth pieces, and then use the sixth pieces to make a third.

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