More fractions! In 4th grade, students are building upon what they’re learned last year, so if your students are struggling, check out the Comparing Fractions in 3rd Grade post.
In 4th grade, continue to model fractions to compare them. Here we’ll look at how to do this with Egg Cartons and Geoboards. Students then move on to finding common denominators in order to make comparisons.
Comparing Fractions With Different Numerators and Denominators
Many students can get stumped when comparing 1/3 to 2/4. Some might notice that 2/4 is equal to one half, which is larger than 1/3. Using an egg carton is a great way to show this visually and helps students verbalize their thought process.
Another example using egg cartons is 2/3 and 5/6.
Using Geoboards to Compare Fractions
An alternative to using egg cartons are geoboards. Have students model 3/4 and 2/8 with a goeboard to compare the two fractions.
3/8 and 5/16 can also be compared with geoboards.
Finding Common Denominators to Compare Fractions With Models
Modeling is great at helping students really understand fractions, but we all know students need to be able to write their work out on paper too. Using the same examples from above, let’s take a look at how we can show these comparisons by creating a common denominator to help compare the fractions.
1/3 = 4 eggs and 2/4 = 6 eggs. Since each egg carton has 12 eggs, changing the fractions to twelfths comes more easily to students. 4 eggs = 4/12 and 6 eggs = 6/12
For our second example, 2/3 = 8 eggs (8/12) and 5/6 = 10 eggs (10/12). 8/12 < 10/12
With geoboards, students have the opportunity to use a different denominator. Students can use eights or sixteenths to compare 2/8 and 3/4.
Ratio Tables to Find Common Denominators
Okay, twelfths and sixteenths are great, but not every two fractions can use those denominators. Don’t worry. Here’s a great way to find common denominators to compare any two fractions. Let’s take 3/4 and 2/5. We can use a ratio table to find equivalent fractions until we come across a common denominator.
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More Activities for Comparing Fractions: