Don’t despair if your child needs a little extra help with fractions! Practicing fractions can be lots of fun, especially when you incorporate food and blocks. Mathnasium of Parker reminds you to incorporate fun into math practice whenever possible. If kids associate math with fun, they'll be less resistant to learning it and doing it!

Kids often struggle with fractions because they look different from other numbers. First, let’s review a few key vocabulary terms. Correct vocabulary is important whenever we're talking about math.

**Basic Fraction Vocabulary**

**Numerator**: Denotes how many. It is the number on the top of the fraction bar.

**Denominator: **This is the name of the fraction. It tells us how many pieces the whole is cut into. It is the number on the bottom of the fraction bar.

**Proper fractions:** These occur when the numerator is less than the denominator. ½ is a proper fraction because one is less than two.

**Improper fractions: **These are when the numerator is equal, to or greater than the denominator. 9/8 is an improper fraction because nine is more than eight. Every whole number is improper when it is written in fractional form with the denominator as one. 4=4/1

**Mixed number:** A whole number and proper fraction. All mixed fractions can also be expressed as an improper fraction and all improper fractions can be expressed as mixed numbers. 1 1/8 = 9/8

To understand a fraction, you have to determine the relationship between the numerator and the denominator.

Now that you remember the basics let’s talk about the fun.

**4 Fun Food Activities for Fractions:**

**Follow a recipe.** Directions: Before starting your recipe (especially with younger children), get out your measuring cups. Find old spices or stale rice, etc. in your pantry and practice measuring the different quantities. Start by measuring out the whole (a whole cup of rice), then measure the parts and compare the wholes and parts. Now you're ready to try the recipe! Need a challenge? Alter the recipe - double it for extra servings or cut it in half to serve fewer people.
**Create a “Fraction Restaurant”** Directions: Write out a menu. Every menu item uses fractions. For example, guests can order 4/3 of an apple, 1½ apples or ½ an apple. Talk about what each "dish" would look like.
**Figure out portion sizes.** Directions: Use fractions to experiment with portion sizes in casseroles, cakes, pizzas, pies, candy bars, etc. Use different size “wholes.” Ask follow up questions. “Is 1/5 of a 13”x 9” cake bigger, equal to, or smaller than 1/5 of a 7” x 11” cake?” “Why does 1/3 of pie look the same as 3/9ths of a pie?”
**Indulge a sweet tooth.** Directions: Get a bag of multi-colored candy, such as Starburst, Skittles, or M&Ms. The total number of candies will be the denominator. What fraction of the candies are blue? What fraction are green? What fraction are green and blue combined?

**2 Fun Fraction Activities Using Blocks:**

**Make a tower.** Directions: Create a multi-colored tower with all the blocks of the same color together, for example, use only the blue blocks and then only the yellow blocks. Figure out what fraction of the tower is each color. Use fractions to describe the tower in as many different ways possible. For example, “The tower is 2/28ths blue and 8/28ths yellow and 4/28ths red.” Or “The tower is 2/28 blue + 8/28 yellow + 4/28 red = 14/28ths primary colors.” Ask questions. “If 14/28ths of the tower is primary colors and the rest are black, what fraction of blocks are black?” Does half the tower look black? Why is that?
**Look at proportions of block sizes.** Directions: First choose your block shape - either bricks or cylinders. Then compare the sizes of the blocks. Use the biggest block as the whole. What is the proportion of the smallest size block compared to the biggest size block? Now, build towers of equal heights, one with the biggest blocks and some with smaller blocks. Perhaps a tower with smaller blocks uses 14 small blocks but the tower using big blocks uses 7 blocks. Discuss how 7/1 = 14/2

**4 Reasons to use Food and Blocks to Learn about Fractions**

- Using concrete materials that kids can touch, move, and see makes the concepts easier to comprehend. Remember to write the fractions, too. This helps children see the relationship between the concrete example of the fraction and the written format.
- Food and blocks are a lot more fun than worksheets. Kids learn better and are more motivated to do math when it is fun.
- Children can more easily see how fractions relate to “wholes and parts,” proportions, and division.
- Kids who are kinesthetic and visual learners get to explore fractions in a modality that makes sense to them.

At Mathnasium of Parker, we like to have fun with math and we want families to have fun with math, too. We love to share fun ways to encourage families to incorporate math into their daily life. If your child needs some extra help with fractions, try these activities and also give us a call at 303-840-1184. We will help your child become a fraction expert.

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