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Grades: 3‒4

Students explore fractions as parts of a whole by using a tool that makes it easy to construct a precise area model of any fraction whatsoever with just several clicks of the mouse. They build area models of fractions less than one and then order them from smallest to largest. Students investigate changes in the value of a fraction as its denominator increases while its numerator is kept constant.

Note: This activity is available in two versions—an area model that represents fractions as parts of a circle and an area model that represents fractions as parts of a rectangle.

  • Students will use an area model of fractions to explore part-whole relationships.
  • Students will relate visual representations of fractions to their symbolic forms.
  • Students will compare and order fractions from smallest to largest.
  • Students will understand that when comparing and ordering unit fractions, the fraction with the larger denominator is the smaller fraction.
Mathematical Practices

(1) Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them; (2) Reason abstractly and quantitatively; (3) Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others; (5) Use appropriate tools strategically; (7) Look for and make use of structure.

Content Standards

3.NF1, 3d

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This activity is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License: If you adapt and/or share this activity, you must attribute it to "KCP Technologies, a McGraw-Hill Education Company." You may distribute it only non-commercially under the same or similar license.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under KCP Technologies Award ID 0918733, with grant period September 1, 2009 through August 31, 2013. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.