Our curriculum suggesting introducing fractions as points on a number line by making a connection to paper fraction strips. I decided to use our fraction towers for two reasons:
- More concrete. The towers are 3D touchable objects, and they actually break apart into pieces so “equal parts” is even more real.
- Accuracy. Let’s just say third graders folding equal sized and accurate thirds isn’t happening in my classroom.
We traced the “whole” and then laid the appropriate tower of whatever fractional unit we wanted on top to help us partition accurately.
Then we added a number line underneath. You can see in the example above that the little bump out on one side of the tower tripped up our “equal parts.”
We counted by unit fractions to label our number line. Having a whole above the number line helped understand why 0 and 1 can also have fractional names.
This was a highly engaging day and built a good foundation for us to move forward with representing fraction on a number line. Today we worked on different chunks of the number line (starting at wholes other than 0, for example) and I was impressed by their thinking about how many, say, fifths, were in 2 wholes.