Today I am sharing a fraction challenge that resulted in problem solving, collaboration, and engagement. My kids loved it and I was amazed!
As many of you know, the AIMS Education Foundation, for YEARS, has provided wonderful math and science resources. I came across an old fraction fish activity that I decided to adapt to fit second grade standards and give my kids a challenging and fun experience.
The basics of the original activity included instructing students to fold construction paper and coffee filters into halves and fourths. Since I wanted to make the activity more challenging, I decided to include an inner and outer eye, fish lips, and provide little direction. Below are prerequisites, the core standard addressed, materials needed, and procedures.
Students need experience folding different shaped/sized wholes into equal sized shares to create fraction models of halves and fourths. They must understand that the size and shape of an equal share depends on the size and shape of the whole.
Partition circles and rectangles into two, three, or four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halves, thirds, half of, a third of, etc., and describe the whole as two halves, three thirds, four fourths. Recognize that equal shares of identical wholes need not have the same shape.
- 8 x 8 construction paper squares in various colors for fish body
- 1 x 1 construction paper squares in various colors for lips
- white circles printed on construction paper for outer eye (see template)
- black circles printed on construction paper for inner eye (see template)
- large coffee filters for fins
- 10 x 12 black construction paper for mounting
- scissors and glue sticks
- 11 x 13 construction paper of various colors for mounting (optional)
- Create a sample fish. This is necessary because you will be giving MINIMAL directions for making a fish like the sample.
- Pair students. If you have an odd number of students, create a group of three.
- Show the sample fish to students and tell them they will be making a fish like the sample.
- Ask students to share what they notice about the fish. Discuss. Then ask students what they wonder about the fish. Discuss.
- Present the task. The following are the only directions my students were given. “You must create two fish (or three for group of three) using only the materials given. You will not be given step by step directions. You and your partner must use your knowledge of fractions to share the materials so that two fish of identical shape and size are created. You must fold before you make any cut. When you are finished, position your pieces on the black the mounting paper to create your fish. Do not glue. Let me know when you have finished.”
- Make yourself present, yet “unavailable”. Share your excitement and confidence in your students’ abilities. If students attempt to ask questions about how to create the fish, remind them to use what they have learned about fractions and folding wholes to create fraction models. If students are having any difficulties, ask them to verbalize their thinking as this often leads to understanding.
- As students finish, “check” their fish, provide encouragement and/or redirect as needed. Ask students HOW? questions, such as “How did you share the coffee filter?”, “Tell me about how you created your fishes’ eyes.”, etc.
- Glue body piece for each student so they may glue the remaining pieces.
- Debrief as a class. This is a perfect opportunity to talk about how fourths were used several times in creating the fish. Ask students what they notice about the size of the coffee filter fourth in comparison to the eye fourths. Students can easily see that one fourths are not always equal–the size of the whole determines the size of the fourths. This is an important concept for future fraction learning. Talk about what students found most challenging/easiest, how materials were shared, what was left over (one half of both eye pieces and triangle cut from fish lips), etc.
- Mounting black mats onto colored construction paper (11 x 13) is optional.
I can’t wait to hear the student talk at open house when they share their fishy fractions with parents!
All the best for a wonderful weekend–