Teaching students about comparing fractions is not always easy! Students are often intimidated by fraction concepts, and as teachers we sometimes struggle to find the best approach to teaching students to understand and compare fractions. Over the years, I have found that it takes a good mix of visuals, hands-on activities, and lots of cooperative learning to help students feel successful with fractions.
Comparing Fractions to One-Half
When teaching students to compare fractions, I usually start with visuals, like fraction bars or number lines. However, one of my favorite strategies for comparing fractions is to have students compare fractions to one-half. Once students are able to compare fractions to one-half, they then have one more tool in their belts when comparing fractions with unlike denominators. First, I like to use number lines, like in the activity below. Students label the number lines and then are able to see where different fractions fall when compared to one-half.
This is a great visual, but it’s also important for students to be able to understand and be able to explain how a fraction compares to the benchmark of one-half. Here are some points to discuss to help them with this understanding…
- Look at the denominator (If the numerator is less than half of the denominator, then the fraction is less than one-half. If the numerator is greater than half of the denominator, then the fraction is greater than one-half.)
- Use fractions that are equivalent to one-half (If you’re trying to determine if 4/6 is greater than 1/2, find a fraction with the same denominator and that is also equivalent to 1/2. In this case, 3/6. Since 4/6 is greater than 3/6, then 4/6 is also greater than 1/2.)
Fraction Name Tags & Scripts
One way to reinforce this skill and to give students practice with explaining their thinking, is with these Fraction Name Tags & Scripts. For this activity, students are each assigned a fraction that they are asked to compare to one-half. They then move around the classroom sharing their fraction with their classmates, and explaining how their fraction compares to one-half. While they are mingling, students can also use the sentence frames on their scripts to compare their fractions to each other. For instance, students with 3/5 and 3/8 would first introduce their fractions to each other and share how they compare to 1/2. Then they would discuss how 3/5 and 3/8 compare to each other. Students would then move on to another partner to repeat the process over again.
Comparing Fractions Anchor Chart
After students have had a chance to mingle with their classmates, I would bring it back to the whole group to discuss what was learned. At this point, you can have students help to create an anchor chart to record their collective learning from the lesson. Create an anchor chart to sort the different fractions students were assigned. Each student can bring up their fraction card and explain to the class how their fraction compares to one-half. This is a great way to bring it all together!
Finally, if you’re looking for an activity for students to complete independently to show their understanding, this fraction sort is great for independent practice or homework. It can also be completed in pairs to keep the conversations going.
This Fraction Sort is a part of my best-selling FRACTIONS UNIT. However, I have also added this sample activity to my FREE Resource Library. Use the form below to access this FREEBIE and other FREE Resources!!
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Looking for more Fraction Resources??
The rest of the printables and resources from this post can be found in my FRACTIONS UNIT. If you’re looking for even more activities for teaching fractions, be sure to click HERE to take a closer look!!
Fractions do not have to be intimidating to teach and learn! With the right lessons and activities, you and your students will have a ton of fun with fractions!!