Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fractions: The New "F" Word for Fifth Grade Math Teachers for the Second Quarter

If you are a fifth grade math teacher you must have fractions on the brain right now. We all know fractions unequivocally dominate the common core math standards for the second quarter. In Philadelphia, we have 40 instructional days to teach our students everything they ever wanted to know about fractions.

My quest to conquer fractions with my students begins tomorrow. Since we will be so intently and uniquely focused on fractions for such a long time, I wanted to start the unit of instruction with something that would really grab my students' attention.

If you know fifth graders, you know nothing gets their senses more heightened than the mention of CANDY. That's why we are beginning our unit on fractions with a "Candy Dilemma". Tomorrow, I plan to put four Twizzlers at each of the tables where five of my students sit. Once the comments like "What are they for?" and "Are we allowed to eat them?" die down, and I know I have everyone's full attention. I will pose this challenge: Any group that can figure out how to share the four licorice strips equally among the five people at their table will be allowed to eat the candy.

I'm pretty sure temporary chaos will ensue as the kids frantically try to come up with a quick solution. Before anybody gets to tear into their bags, I'll use a quick clapping signal to get everybody's attention, and I'll add that I am giving each group play dough to help them work out their sharing strategy without manhandling the candy before they get to eat it.

I'm thinking it's going to take a little while before the kids figure out that the Twizzlers need to be cut into fifths so everybody can have 4/5's of a piece to make the sharing equal. Once I've guided each group to the proper solution, everyone will get the Candy Voucher linked below, and I'll explain there will be a whole piece of licorice available for anyone who can turn in a voucher that is completed correctly.

Once the vouchers are turned in and everybody is happily munching a tasty treat, we'll have a nice little discussion about fractions. I'll assess what the children already know and fill them in on where we are headed for math in the second quarter. All-in-all, I'm thinking it will be a successful introduction into our study of fractions.

If you want to try this lesson with your students, all you'll need is a package of Twizzlers, some play dough, and the candy voucher from the link below. If you use the activity, I'd love to hear how it went. Please stop back on leave a comment.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a great way to start fractions in such an engaging way! We're always looking for that "hook" lesson to start off a unit. I think this is quite perfect. Thanks for sharing and I'm so happy I'm following you now so I can get some more ideas!

    Terry's Teaching Tidbits