My Favorite Activities for Teaching Fractions in the Primary Classroom

Teaching fractions is one of my favorite math concepts to teach.  But fractions are not always the easiest concept for students to pick up.  Students in the primary grades are just starting to wrap their heads around what numbers mean and how they relate to one another.  Then we have to introduce parts of a whole and fractions.  But with some strategic planning we can help give our students a solid foundation with fractions for their future teachers to build upon.  Today I'm excited to share with you some of my favorite activities for teaching fractions.

Teaching fractions to first graders can be fun and easy with these exciting activities you and your students will enjoy.

My Approach to Teaching Fractions

While looking at fractions as a big picture topic can be intimidating, fractions become much easier to teach and learn if you start small and break them into steps that your students can understand. I've found this is most beneficial by using several different approaches.

1. Use Visuals

When I teach fractions, I always start with visuals. Providing pictures, charts, and images for the concepts that you are teaching makes it much easier for your students to understand the new information.  While this is useful in everything we teach, it is especially helpful in math where the concepts are so abstract. Pictures and visuals help the abstract concepts become more concrete. And . . . using real-life objects, if you can, gives students something familiar to connect with.  For fractions, it's really fun to use food like pizza, pie, and apples to demonstrate fractions.   

Use visuals like these to help your students understand the real world concept of fractions.

At the beginning of your unit, you will want to start by introducing vocabulary words such as part, whole, numerator, and denominator.  It's also important to teach students the names of different fractions like one-half, one-third, and one-fourth.  I love to hang posters for each vocabulary word with the definition and a picture in the front of my classroom. These posters serve as a great visual for the kids to refer to throughout the unit or even the entire school year.

If you use a math notebook in your classroom you can copy the vocabulary posters in a smaller size (I like 4 pages in one) and have students glue them into their notebook.  You can also have students make their own vocabulary entries.  

Fractions posters like these are great to hang around your room when you are introducing your fractions unit to your students.

I like to have students make a vocabulary four square.  Simply draw lines down the center vertically and horizontally on the page.  Then in each of the four squares students will work with the vocabulary word in a different way.  Here's what I have students put in each square: the word, a definition, an illustration (like this pizza cut into four equal parts), and then use the vocabulary word in a sentence. My students always enjoy this activity and it helps to reinforce the new words they are learning.

I've also found over the years that there is no need to water-down the vocabulary.  Our students may be young, but when presented with vocabulary they are eager to learn.  Make sure to connect a visual example or a hands-on example to help students understand the meaning and then watch out.  It's great to walk around the room and hear students using words like 'denominator' in the proper way.  Just give them opportunities to learn and practice.  Don't forget to model using those words too!

2. Get Hands-on With Games

Who doesn't love a good game? They are always a hit in the classroom, and there is just something about that hands-on approach that engages students at a higher level. Games also reinforce the visual aspect of teaching fractions while breaking it down into something more simple and fun. 

Use dominos like these as part of your fun hands on fractions activities for your first graders.

I love to use dominos as they are fraction-like in their appearance.  Have your students choose 5 dominos from the pile and turn them over. One side is the numerator, and the other side is the denominator. Students can practice identifying which number is the numerator and which number is the denominator.  They can then use manipulatives to build the fraction or they can draw what the fraction would look like if it were a pizza or pie.  Another great tool for "playing" with fractions is dice.  Give each student a die and have them roll it one time for the numerator and one time for the denominator.  Then let them practice writing it as a fraction and showing what it means. 

Note: Since we don't teach mixed numbers or fractions that make up more than one whole in first grade, I have my students always put the largest number on the bottom and the smallest number on the top.  This also gives them extra reinforcement for comparing numbers. That's a two-in-one!

I've also created some fun fraction games for my students to use.  Since I know games are always a popular choice during centers and small group instruction, it is a great way to engage students in learning.  

Make learning even more fun with fractions games like these.

My students love playing the games Fraction Fun and Fraction Four in a Row. These are just a couple of the games we use in my classroom to work on identifying a fraction and matching it to a visual representation.  

As students play the games, I encourage students to say the fraction when they spin so they get practice using the vocabulary.  

3. Practice Makes Perfect

As with everything else, practice is the key to mastering fractions.  There's a good reason why a good lesson progresses from modeling to guided practice to independent practice.  It's because practice is what helps new skills and concepts make their way from short-term memory to long-term memory.

Practicing the skill in new and exciting ways will keep your students interested and allow their knowledge to expand. It is always fun to mix in a few different no-prep worksheets and activities during your teaching fractions unit. 

Activities such as coloring fractions, cutting and pasting equal fractions, and exploring halves, thirds, and fourths are great ways to keep your students actively engaged with making sure the skills and standards are being taught. 

No prep worksheets like these are a great way to get in some extra fractions practice in centers, as individual activities, or even as take home work.

4. Engage with Technology

I don't think there are any doubts that using technology is a great way to engage students in learning activities.  In order to give my students additional opportunities to practice with fractions, I created these Boom Card activities.  Students are guided through the entire fraction learning process from identifying equal and unequal parts to naming the fraction (and everything in between)!

I love adding these digital learning activities to our math centers. Not only do students get great fraction practice, but they also get some technology skills while working on a tablet or computer. 

Use Boom Cards like these to get in even more fun fractions practice your students will enjoy doing.

5. Encourage Independence with Write the Room

Finally, I love to wrap up our fraction lessons with a Write the Room activity. If you've been around here a while, you likely already know how much I love write the room! It's such a great way to encourage independence in a vareity of skills. Not to mention, it really saves the day if your kiddos are a bit restless and need to get up and move! 

This pizza-themed write-the-room resource is the perfect way to continue practicing fractions in your classroom. Each fraction is displayed in pizza shapes on the task cards. They are displayed in both a circular pizza and a rectangular pizza shape for halves, thirds, and fourths. Students will walk around the room and solve each task card, and then write their answers down on the recording sheet. 

Use a fractions write the room activity like this with a fun pizza theme to get in even more fractions practice plus some time to get the wiggles out.

You can also play this as a scoot game with the whole room together, or set it up as a math center that doesn't require traveling around the room. There are four different recording sheets included, to allow for simple differentiation. 

Make Fractions Fun 

Over the years, I've found that this combination of using vocabulary activities, games, worksheets, digital activities, and write the room is such a great way to master fractions. The variety of activities means there's something that will appeal to all of my different learners, and keep things interesting as well. 

These resources are perfect for guided practice, independent practice, math centers, and small group instruction.  When your students are done they will have a great fraction foundation. If you're looking to streamline your teaching and have fun with fractions, you can find all of these resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Grab these fractions activities to use in your classroom with your first graders this year.

These digital fractions activities are perfect for your first grade math centers.

This fraction write the room activity is a great math center or whole class math activity when introducing fractions in first or second grade.

Save these Ideas for Teaching Fractions

Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back when you need more classroom ideas for teaching fractions, other math concepts and so much more.  

Looking for fun and easy ways to teach your first graders the concept of fractions? These super fun activities will get your students excited to learn, practice, and master fractions. From no-prep worksheets, to Boom cards, to games, your students will love learning fractions in first grade this year. #thechocolateteacher #teachingfractions #fractionspractice #firstgradefractions

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