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How to Start Teaching Fractions: What do students need to know?

If you are trying to figure out how to start teaching fractions to your elementary students, don’t fret! These tips and resources are exactly what you need to get started!

Many people know what elementary teachers teach students, but they have no idea how important the order of what we teach is.

If we don’t teach students how to count, they will struggle with addition. If we don’t teach them characterization, then they’ll flail when we start looking for a theme and main idea. If we don’t teach them point values, they will become frustrated with multiplication and division.

Before our students can run away with all the information, we must first teach them to stand up, then walk, then ‘mall walk’, then saunter, then jog, then…I think you get the point.

Knowing what comes first is important, and today we’re specifically talking about fractions.

When you’re considering how to start teaching fractions, you have to make sure that students have a specific mathematical background before forging ahead into ‘Fraction Land.’

How to start teaching fractions Facebook image

Don’t know what that mathematical background entails? We have got you covered.

Use the following list as a checklist as you consider whether or not your students are ready for fractions.

Do they understand these concepts?

  1. Multiplication Facts
  2. Division Facts
  3. Multiples
  4. Least Common Multiples
  5. Factors/Factorization
  6. Least Common Factor
  7. Least Common Denominator
  8. Lowest Fraction Terms
  9. Understanding that fraction is a number and part of one whole
  10. Divisibility Rules

Formatively Assessing Student Skills

Now, if you think your students are ready to start digging deeper into fractions, but you aren’t 100% sure, then we have a great tool for you.

The Intro to Fractions Game Show goes over each of the above areas and will provide you with the perfect formative assessment for figuring out how to start teaching fractions with your specific group of students.

If your students are not ready in any of the areas we listed above, the Intro to Fractions Game Show will help you narrow down exactly which one you need to focus on more before jumping into your formal fraction instruction.

Reviewing Fractions

Once you have started learning about fractions, you’ll want to have some fraction games and activities ready to go to help your students practice and review their learning.

In the Fun in 5th Grade store, we have a variety of upper elementary fraction games and activities to help round out your fraction instruction. Including:

We have several versions of each of these games/activities that will level-up with your students and give you options as you consider how to start teaching fractions.

How to Start Teaching Fractions: Daily Reminders

Daily reminders through posters and anchor charts are also very helpful when learning new information, and since fractions have some specific rules and clues that can make them much easier to work with, we’ve created a FREE Divisibility Rules poster to help with one of the most common issues students deal with when they begin learning about fractions. 

These posters are colorful and super helpful resources for students who need some quick divisibility tips as they move forward with learning about fractions.

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If you are new to upper elementary or if you are simply looking for new ideas on how to start teaching fractions, then hopefully the information in this post will help you. 

Again, remember that order is important, so before you really start digging into fractions, spend some time assessing what students already know, put the divisibility posters somewhere where students can easily reference them, and then put together a solid lineup of fraction games and activities that will grow with your students as they get better and better at them.

Lastly, here is another post that may be helpful as you plan out your fraction unit.

5 Fraction Games and Activities for Reviewing Fraction Standards Blog Image

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