Thursday, March 25, 2010

Grade 4, Winter Term, Fraction Block ~ Ducks to Water

I divide our main lesson blocks roughly into months, and this month (March) we have been learning about fractions. Last weekend I checked my annual plan and realized that I had scheduled the Human Being and the Animal World (aka Man and Animal) block for March. I guess I was so excited to start fractions that I didn't check the plan. It's okay though; we've enjoyed fractions very much and April will be a great month for the animal block.

We started the fractions block by baking an Irish Soda Bread in a round casserole dish and then used it as a visual representation of "1". We cut it in half, then cut one half into quarters, and then cut those quarters into halves. Live Ed G4 recommends doing this with fruit, which would have been easier, but between the two boys' allergies there weren't any fruits that would work.

Next up came work with circles, from the Live Ed book. This gave us a very hands-on, visual representation of fractions. This was a very enjoyable part of the block for me; it had a crafty side to it.

Weeks two and three were based on the fractions story in Live Ed G4. The boys loved hearing the story of King Karl, which involved swords and separating heads from shoulders, always crowd pleasers around here. My boys have always connected to stories and this is one reason I sought out the Live Ed materials. We drew, divided, and tallied, showing how fractions have a place in everyday life.

This week we moved into the abstract, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions. We reduced fractions, turned improper fractions into mixed numbers and vice versa, found common denominators, inverted fractions, and more! The boys ate it all up; they were truly hungry for this real work of fractions after all of the preparation.

Indeed, today J-Baby actually needed a little bit more for it to make sense to him, asking "What is a fraction really and how is it a number?", so I brought in decimals/percentages. Somehow seeing that every fraction can be expressed as a decimal what something that he needed.

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