Saturday, April 8, 2017

Group Fraction Activity for Warm-Ups, Transitions, or Anytime!


As a math coach I'm able to see a lot of teachers and students in action. On a recent visit to a third grade classroom, I saw a fantastic activity that I can't wait to share! (Homeschool adaptations included below.)

In this particular class, student desks were configured in groups of 4 or 5. As students arrived at their desks in the morning, they immediately began working on a group task: "What fraction of your group are boys? What fraction are girls?" In the early stages of the activity, before everyone arrived, a group might have results like 1/3 girls and 2/3 boys. But as more students arrived, the results changed. A group might then have 2/5 boys and 3/5 girls. But the group next to them might have 1/4 girls and 3/4 boys. The answer entirely depended on when kids arrived and who was in attendance.

When the starting bell rang, the teacher focused the class and began asking groups to share. Each group shared the fraction of boys/girls in each group. As she questioned individual groups, she stopped and asked students to consider how one group compared to another. If one group had 2/5 girls and another had 3/5 girls, which group had a greater fraction of girls?

The activity also lent itself to thinking about fraction addition or subtraction. If a group had 2 boys and 3 girls, then:

2/5 + 3/5 = 5/5 = 1 (whole group)
5/5 of a group - 2/5 boys = 3/5 girls.

Students could also consider equivalent fractions. "If a group has 2/4 boys and 2/4 girls, is there another way we can think about the fraction of boys and girls?" (1/2 boys and 1/2 girls.)


This is a wonderful, quick activity that helps students to figure parts of a group with fractions. As they consider the answer, they're continually thinking about which number is used in the numerator and which is used in the denominator and why.

After observing the activity, I made a set of 75+ Math Task Cards that could be used with small groups (3-6), medium groups (6-12) or large groups (12-entire class.) Many cards encourage students to consider questions that help them to know one another better. Depending on teacher emphasis, the cards could be used in grades 3, 4, or 5.

If you are interested in the Task Cards, they are available on TPT as a new product at an introductory sale (deep discount!) price.

If you use this activity--with or without the Task Cards--I'd love to hear about your experience!

p.s. Homeschoolers could make up a similar activity with items around the house: "What fraction of my stuffed animals include animals with teeth? No teeth?"  Years ago I gathered Teeny Beanie Babies just for the purpose of sorting and fraction activities like this.
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