Question Detail

What are the best manipulatives to teach adding and subtracting fractions for 4th grade special education students.

Jun 30, 2016 6:57pm

  • Math
  • 4
  • Common Core


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    • Jul 26, 2016 6:22am

      I also like fraction bars or strips. You can buy plastic ones, but you can also make some with card stock or paper. I suggest making each type a different color (ie yellow halves, pink thirds, etc.) Since fourth graders work on adding/subtracting where there is a common denominator, the biggest challenge will be when the whole is greater than one. This comes in understanding of improper fractions and mixed number notations. In cases like that, it will be helpful if they can manipulate the pieces to decompose. For example, when adding 4/5 + 3/5, the students can see that 3/5=1/5+1/5+1/5 by using three "fifths" pieces, then they can combine 1/5 with the 4/5 to make a whole and have 2/5 left over. Hence the sum 1 2/5. This is the essence of what it means to understand unit fractions like Jewel mentioned below.

      • Jul 11, 2016 11:13am

        Agree 100%, pizzas are the best for fractions! Finish up with a pizza party as a reward/incentive!

        • Sep 1, 2016 1:14pm

          Hi Pamella!

          Fraction Strips are by far my favorite for fractions followed closely by rectangle grids and number lines. Circles have some limitations in terms of denominators that I haven't found very helpful.

          Marilyn talks about the number line here:

          and a kit is here:

          Hope that helps!