Teaching Fractions: A Lesson in Understanding the Whole for 2/3/4



In this lesson, students explore learning about fractions and their multiples through hands-on activities. They learn about the concept of a whole number and model their understandings.

Australian Curriculum Links:

Year 3 Maths:
  • Model and represent unit fractions including 1/2, 1/4, 1/3, 1/5 and their multiples to a complete whole (ACMNA058).


In this lesson the learners will:

Explore fractions through hands-on learning in order to enhance their understanding of wholes (1), 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 and 1/5.


Orientation 5 minutes

  • Focus: Students attention to the fun items at the front.
  • Engage: Tell students today we are learning about fractions through some fun hands-on activities.
  • Access: What are fractions? Fractions are used when we need to count a part of something. For example, we know this is a square (draw on board), but what if we wanted to know how much this part of the square is (shade ¼)? To figure this out we us fractions.

Guided Discovery 15 mins

  • Use 5 different colours of play dough to demonstrate a whole (1), 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 and 1/5. Start off with 5 whole balls of play dough then break these down in front of the students (leave one whole, divide the second ball in half, the third ball in thirds, the fourth ball in quarters and fifth ball into fifths). Explain how putting these back together creates a whole, i.e. 1.
  • Now using paddle pop stick signs and sticking these into the play dough balls, show students how 1/5 are smaller than 1/4, and 1/4 are smaller than 1/3 and 1/3 are smaller than 1/2.
  • See clip of activity


AND/OR depending on student understanding (10 mins)

  • Place coloured water into a clear plastic cup and demonstrate how this is a full cup of water, i.e. it is a whole (1). Now divide this water into half by placing half of the water into a second cup to show halves. Place the water back into one cup and then divide between three cups to show thirds, in four cups to show quarters and five cups to show fifths.

Exploration 30 mins

  • Students cut colourful strips of paper into 1, /2, 1/4, 1/3, 1/5and paste these in their books with titles to show each fraction.


  • Students cut out certain shapes into the given fraction and stick these in their books with titles.


  • Extension: extend students with extension worksheet on fractions.
  • Support: teachers assist students having difficulty.

Reflection  5 minutes

  • Share/Explain/Justify/Reflect: Get certain students to share their work with the rest of the class. What’s another way you could cut that shape? What another way you could fold that strip?
  • Consolidate: Revise what are fractions and how they are used in everyday life.  
  • Challenge/Extend: How many quarters in a whole? How many fifths in a whole?


  • Collect anecdotal notes from questioning.
  • Use of strips to make the whole.




Feature image sourced from: http://teachingmahollitz.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/cimg75761.jpg

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