Teaching Fractions: Tips For Everyday Practice

Teaching fractions and their practicality in evryday life. Using fractions in everyday life can help them see the logic and purpose of understanding fractions.

It is not unusual for kids who quickly grasp the notion of whole numbers to find themselves struggling with fractions. Learning the operations of fractions is much like learning multiplication tables. Practice will reinforce memorizing the procedures. While rote memorization is essential in the operations of fractions, it doesn't solve the problem of thinking in partial terms. Oddly enough, practice is, again, the central ingredient to learning how fractions work.

Most kids love to be actively involved in the kitchen, and it is one of the best resource centers for applying fraction skills. Explain to your child that cooking requires an understanding of fractions. Show them various recipes, and be sure to include at least one that requires ratios (i.e., one part of ingredient A to three parts of ingredient B). Then, you can have your child convert the ratios to fractions. For further practice, take a few recipes and ask them to re-write the amount of each ingredient to double the recipe. Extensions can include re-writing for half as much, and so on.

Measuring spoons and cups are excellent hands-on tools for examining how fractions work. Give a wide variety of measuring utensils to your child and allow them to explore with dry ingredients, and again with water. This will reinforce the idea that, like whole numbers, adding and subtracting with fractions is absolute.

Other areas of daily living that can reinforce fraction concepts include sewing and woodworking skills. With sewing, patterns and measuring tapes are excellent tools for working with fractions, and it reinforces how precise measurements must be in order to complete the project accurately. Woodwork, such as a birdhouse project, also requires close attention to parts of the whole. Be sure to point out at the end of a project how fractions were used, as well as stressing the necessity of thoroughly understanding fractions in completing the project(s).

For younger kids and those occasions when time is a factor, simple activities can be equally effective. For example, if your child is in charge of feeding the family pet, give him or her a problem to work out. If your pet weighs 20 pounds and should be feed one-quarter cup of food for every five pounds of body weight, let your child figure out how much pet food is accurate. If setting the table is the child's job, ask him or her to figure out what fraction of the plates in an eight-piece setting was used, what fraction of those at the table is left handed, and so on. These are simple fraction practices that can easily be incorporated during busy times.

Don't overlook the opportunities you have for practicing with fractions. For example, make practice with fractions a travel game. Have your child write down how many total cars pass, and how many of those cars are a specific color. You, or another passenger, select another color. After a set time limit, figure out who had the most, but answers must be given in the form of a fraction.

While there are many excellent software programs and games on the market, it isn't necessary to spend a lot of money to reinforce fractions with your child. It simply requires a little of your time and thinking of those occasions when we use fractions in our every day lives. Practical use is the greatest way to show kids the need for learning concepts such as fractions. If they can see how and why it is essential to their lives, it makes sense that they will understand the need to strengthen their fractions skills.

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