As hard as fractions are for 3rd graders, it is my FAVORITE topic to teach! I pulled out all the stops with this comprehensive unit (part of the 3rd Grade Guided Math Curriculum) for teaching fractions and included all of the material I wished I had as a new teacher.
This unit opens with a study of unit fractions, the building blocks of fractions. This strategy for teaching has students thinking about composing and decomposing with unit fractions from the very beginning. Equal sharing questions are also integrated throughout, so students get used to thinking about fraction decomposition. The other benefit of building on a foundation of unit fractions is that students learn about the relative sizes of fractions as they relate to their denominators (or unit parts) right from the beginning. This is a strategy-rich, can-do unit that encourages active problem solving and deep understanding.
3rd Grade Unit 4 Mini-Units
- Mini-Unit 1: Understanding Unit Fractions
- Mini-Unit 2: Understanding Fractions
- Mini-Unit 3: Whole Numbers as Fractions
- Mini-Unit 4: Understanding Equivalent Fractions
- Mini-Unit 5: Comparing Fractions
Mini-Unit 1: Understanding Unit Fractions
The Understanding Unit Fractions Mini-Unit starts fraction instruction with an incredibly well-supported exploration of unit fractions. As mentioned in the introduction of this unit, unit fractions are the backbone of fractions. Having students learn them as integral to fraction understanding sets them up for success from the beginning.
This mini-unit explores related fractional parts, like halves and fourths, together. Students will study area models of unit fractions using partitioned shapes and number line representation over the course of 6 lessons. Each lesson includes a digital lesson, hands-on interactive task cards and Math Mats, independent Practice Pages, and an Exit Ticket. The content covers fifths, tenths, and twelfths as well as standard-specified denominators in an effort to develop true understanding of related fraction pieces and their equivalents.
Mini-Unit 2: Understanding Fractions
The Understanding Fractions mini-unit extends student understanding of unit fractions to non-unit fractions. Still working with unit fraction pieces, students understand fractions are composed out of unit fractions. They experience fractions as represented by partitioned shapes, points on a number line, and fractions of a set. Separate lessons are included exploring equal sharing problems with fractions and decomposing and composing with unit fractions.
Mini-Unit 3: Whole Numbers as Fractions
During Mini-Unit 1 and 2, fractions that equal one whole are explored in depth. Mini-Unit 3 explores making other whole numbers with partitioned shapes and number lines. Counting unit fractions past a whole is approached as simple counting the number of unit fractions that form a whole number. Students can then use reasoning or division to find the whole number. Equal sharing wraps up the Whole Numbers as Fractions Mini-Unit so students can experience decomposing wholes into different fractions combinations to share resources among several people.
Mini-Unit 4: Understanding Equivalent Fractions
Mini-Unit 4, Understanding Equivalent Fractions, is another incredibly well-supported unit of study for this difficult topic. Given the deep understanding of fractions students have developed over the course of the other mini-units, they should be ready to tackle equivalent fractions at this point. Even if it’s still a little beyond their easy reach, students are guided through the process of understanding equivalent fractions starting with partitioning unit fractions in shapes and on number lines. Interactive lessons and hands-on work with Math Mats and Task Cards take students on a step-by-step journey that explores the relationship between partitioning shapes and number lines and creating more unit fractions that are smaller. Multiplication and division are addressed as well to tie-in the mathematical component of equivalent fractions.
Mini-Unit 5: Comparing Fractions
By the time your class reaches Mini-Unit 5, Comparing Fractions, they will be ready to master this skill with a deep level of understanding. Because of the earlier, heavy emphasis on unit fractions, students will already understand that fractions with larger denominators have smaller fraction pieces. When comparing fractions with the same denominator, the fraction with the greater numerator will be greater because there will be more fraction pieces that are the same size. When comparing fractions with the same numerator, smaller numbers in the denominator will means the fraction pieces are bigger and therefore greater. Reasoning skills and thinking about common benchmark fractions wraps up the study of fractions by pushing students to use conceptual understanding to think about fraction size using mental reasoning skills.
Digital Guided Math Activities Included!
Each component of the 3rd Grade Guided Math Curriculum comes in printable and digital versions to maximize you flexibility teaching these important concepts. YOU can choose which version of each lesson component should be used – and when – for your diverse learners.
Digital lessons teach the content for each graduated step needed to learn about fractions.
Digital Math Mats and Task Cards with movable digital pieces allow students to manipulate shapes and number lines to develop a deep understanding of each fraction concept.
Full-color Digital Practice Pages also use interactive movable digital pieces to allow students to demonstrate their learning in a more independent way.
Each lesson includes a Digital Exit Ticket to give you a snapshot of student learning. Exit tickets are such an important formative assessment for your planning process as a teacher.