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Fractions in Kindergarten?
January 17, 2011

Teach fractions in kindergarten?

I have received a few emails asking me for my thoughts about introducing fractions to preschool and kindergarten children. Like all things for this age group, fractions need to be communicated with developmentally appropriate hands on experiences and plenty of play activities.

Children need to have fraction experiences that:
  • incorporate their senses
  • invite them to experiment and make observations
  • let them learn at their own rate, and
  • allow them time to investigate a topic further

Personally, I avoid worksheets to teach concepts but like to have young children use open ended recording sheets to put some part of their experiences on paper.

The kids are working towards:

  • being able to visualize fractions and
  • understanding that fraction segments are equal parts of a larger object

These skills are necessary for more advanced fraction concepts in future grades. See Teaching fractions - keep it hands on for more on this topic.

Fraction games

For a few easy fraction games, click here. Keep games simple and try to have as many of the players involved as possible. There are also ideas for how to use fraction math manipulatives on this page.

Fraction type toys

There are fun, wooden fraction toys available that give kids an opportunity to investigate fraction concepts. These can be used for group demos and then placed in the math or play centers for the children to investigate.

Just to be up front, I do get a small commission if you purchase any product that links to Amazon or other companies from my site. This income helps pay kindergarten-lessons.com's web hosting fees.

Teach fractions with cooking

Introduce the language of fractions with small group cooking activities.

For example - Cut the muffin in half, fill the cup half full, let's use part of the whole orange, put peanut butter on one half of the bread and jam on the other half of the bread, cut the sandwich in quarters…

Tell a story with fraction toys

Use fraction math manipulatives and toys with puppets to make up simple stories. Here is a sample circle time story with an apple fraction toy (see the link to fraction type toys above), 2 puppets and a basket:

Marty the Moose heard a knock on his door. (knock on the chalkboard) He opened the door (squeak) and there was his friend, Sammy the squirrel...

Improvise and have the puppets take turns cutting the apples and sharing them out, keeping in mind that the goal is to introduce and help the children be familiar with the idea of equal sized pieces that are a part of a whole object and fraction terms such as half, quarters, thirds.

Happy teaching, Patricia from kindergarten-lessons.com


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