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Think fractions, think food: pizzas, cakes, chocolate bars, sandwiches. All of these have been used to teach fractions.
Children spend full lessons attempting to divide a circle into five equal parts. Teachers panic when drawing similar circles onto the board, with ‘Just imagine the parts are equal’ becoming a well-used phrase within the classroom.
In recent times, fraction strips and bar models have helped ease this pain. Children can now divide fractions into more challenging denominators. However, with a bar model a new difficulty arises.
Children draw bar models, usually using squared paper to support them to make the parts equal. However, they forget a vital aspect when comparing fractions: the wholes need to be the same size.
Whereas circles have a definite whole, bar models have no definite end and therefore children may make mistakes when comparing fractions.
So what else can we use that will help children to understand fractions? The answer may be pattern blocks.
Download this free Powerpoint with facilitator notes to explore the topic with colleagues.
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