In a previous post, I shared an overview of equivalent fractions across the grades. Here are a few specifics for teaching equivalent fractions with 3rd graders.
Third graders are becoming more comfortable partitioning shapes into equal shares. Now, students need to be able to look at two different fractions with the same whole and tell whether or not they are equivalent.
Using hands-on models is so important for students as they develop these fractional concepts and skills. Start with the basics and pull out the pattern blocks!
Before you even define a whole or talk about fractions, have students start sorting the pattern blocks looking for equals.
Say a student noticed that 1 hexagon = 2 trapezoids. You can then substitute the pattern block names for the fractional names. 1 whole = 2 halves. From there, students transition to numeric fractions. 1 = 2/2
Here’s what a student might do to show 1 whole is equal to 6 sixths. 1 = 6/6
You can see this works for fractions less than one whole as well. A rhombus is equal to 1 third of the whole and a triangle equals 1 sixth. When students see that 1 rhombus = 2 triangles, they can translate that to 1 third = 2 sixths, then 1/3 = 2/6.
Here we see that 1 half is equal to 3 sixths. After doing this several times with students, you can make a chart like the one below to show all the equivalent fractions they can find with pattern blocks!
|1 hexagon = 2 trapezoids||1 whole = 2 halves||1 = 2/2|
|1 hexagon = 6 triangles||1 whole = 6 sixths||1 = 6/6|
|1 rhombus = 2 triangles||1 third = 2 sixths||1/3 = 2/6|
|1 trapezoid = 3 triangles||1 half = 3 sixths||1/2 = 3/6|
Fractions Equal to Whole Numbers
Continue to use models and hands-on activities to show fractions that can equal 2, 3 or any other whole number! Here, students will sort fractions equal to one, two, or three wholes using pictures, numbers, and number lines.
For students who are ready for a challenge, check out 4th grade too!
Print and Digital Activities for Equivalent Fractions in 3rd Grade: