Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Learn Fractions With Building Blocks or Legos

A deep understanding about fractions makes the transition from elementary math to middle school math and algebra even easier.  
Manipulatives are not only useful at the lower grade levels, they are also helpful for teaching more complex fraction concepts at the upper grade levels too.

Understanding Mixed Numbers

These are Mega Bloks Brand (This is how it is spelled).  

The yellow blocks are the central focus of this math problem.  Using manipulatives helps information get stored in multiple parts of the brain.

For this fraction problem, four blocks are needed to make a whole.  Students can see that by adding 2/4 + 3/4, 1 whole and 1/4 blocks is the result when combined (5/4). These are great for starting discussions about math concepts and for writing about math. Students can explain what happens when fractions are added and the meaning of a mixed number.

Multiplying Fractions

It is often difficult for students to conceptualize what happens when fractions are multiplied. This often leads to many misconceptions about fractions.
This fraction focuses on the blue blocks. Students can see that 2/3 x 3 is three groups of 2/3.  By touching and manipulating the blocks, information is stored in multiple sections of the brain to help students understand and remember the concept.

The answer is two.  After seeing 2/3 x 3, a student would then put the blue blocks together.  Since three blue blocks are needed into to make a complete stack, students can then visualize 2/3 x 3 = 2.  This is a great small group discussion starter.  Students can explain what happens when a fraction is multiplied to a whole number.

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