We just started our fractions unit this week. The positive is that a lot of my kiddos seem to have an innate understanding of how to share things equally. They don’t know how to write the result, how to notate the fractions, but they seem to get the idea.
The few that don’t get it are really struggling. My table is always open for kids who want some help. I will pull kids there if I feel they need it (as I did with one of the kids below) but my students know they can always come and join us if they want/need the extra support.
Yesterday two kiddos spent a lot of time at my table. Others came and went as they needed a push and then things clicked but these two worked with me for quite some time. I realized quickly that drawing pictures to share things wasn’t quite cutting it for them. Three kids sharing six candy bars sounds like an obvious one but it wasn’t making sense for them. I grabbed six index cards and offered them as candy bars. Almost immediately they realized each kid would get two candy bars.
The next question was about four kids sharing a pizza. I sat my pen holder on a blank piece of paper and traced the circle. They cut it into four pieces pretty quickly. We were on a roll. Next up, three cookies for six children. I traced my water bottle three times but it wasn’t quite clicking. So I handed them six paper clips and said, “Here are your six kids. How could they share the cookies?” They put the paper clips on the cookies and figured out everyone got one half.
From there we worked with index cards, traced circles, and paper clips and figured out eight kids sharing four pizzas, four kids sharing three candy bars (that one took a bit but they did it), and six kids sharing two candy bars. It was fantastic.
I have a tendency to not pull out manipulatives nearly as often as I should. We have plenty of options: pattern blocks, unifix cubes, place value blocks, cuisenaire rods, and more. The kids can get them anytime they want. I just need to remember to suggest those tools when they might be useful. Yesterday was a good reminder of the power of being able to cut things, draw on things, move things around.