Math Background

Comparing and Ordering Fractions: Tips and Tricks

  • Provide each student with a fraction kit of some sort. Purchased materials are nice to have, but you can make your own. See the What Is It? section of this topic for some ideas for manipulatives.
  • Spend time helping students learn benchmarks: at least 0, one-half, and 1 if not one-fourth and three-fourths as well. Here's a mnemonic device that might help:
    Numerator teeny, Denominator a hero, here's a fraction very near zero;
    Numerator half of Denominator's size, fraction's a half, surprise, surprise;
    Numerator and Denominator almost the same; fraction's worth one in this old game.
  • Practice finding common factors so that writing fractions in simplest form is easier for students. Concentrate on commonly encountered fractions (halves, thirds, fourths, eighths, tenths).
  • Do a measurement activity every day. Spend five minutes measuring two items, and then comparing their lengths and adding or subtracting the measures.
  • Play language games that help students focus on how the denominators affect the way they work with fractions. Every so often during the day, ask questions such as these.
    Can you add apples and oranges? (no)
    If not, what can you call them so that you can? (fruit)
    Can you add fourths and eighths? (no)
    If not, what can you do to them so that you can? (change to eighths)

Houghton Mifflin Math Grade 4