Pizza! Truly, I've never met a student who wasn't able to grasp the idea of splitting a whole pie into parts.
Understanding UNIT FRACTIONS is key. Be sure to review this first.
Start with "paper pizza" and celebrate your students' success with real pies after they get it. No eating unless the math is correct, though! (For fraction sets, use raisins, cookies, even golf balls, etc.) Also, utilize your Whiteboard if you have one.
After the initial fun, guide students in using their skill for purely numerical computation without the manipulatives.
Always keep the vocabulary front and center on a chart for easy reference at all times. Reference Pinterest for a few great ones!
If you need more ideas/guidance, reference the following sites to deepen your own knowledge and thinking before working with students:
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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.
Agree 100%, pizzas are the best for fractions! Finish up with a pizza party as a reward/incentive!
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: http://marilynburnsmathblog.com/wordpress/fractions-on-a-number-line/
and a kit is here: http://store.mathsolutions.com/product-info.php?Marilyn-Burns-Fraction-Kit-pid230.html
Hope that helps!
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