Introducing Equal and Unequal

Jan 24, 2015

 Fractions.....Oh my goodness, I love them!

There always seems to be so many fun and engaging activities that can be done with fractions.  I get excited and look forward to it each year.

As my teammate, Jess, and I sat down to start talking about fractions we decided to start with a lesson on equal versus unequal.  This is the first part to understanding fractions and we wanted to make sure that they had a good understanding of this concept before we even got started.

The brainstorming started.

And I don't know how but the conversation led us to ice cream (well...not that surprising...I am typically thinking about food).  We wanted to somehow get the kids to experience equal and unequal instead of us just teaching them about it.

Here is what we came up with:
We decided to throw a little ice cream party for our classes.  Each kid was given ice cream inside a small clear cup (we wanted them to be able to see what everyone had).

We asked them to be polite and not eat any of the ice cream until everyone had some.  Once it was all passed out, Jess and I just stood there.  Waiting.....

They were all trying so hard to be polite and not complain about what they were given.  But finally we heard "why did I get more than Steve?"  The conversation started! 

We said, "What do you mean?"  The students went on to explain how they knew that the ice cream cups were not equal and how unfair that was.  This led into connections about times that this has happened to them with siblings, cousins, or friends.
This was just...what...we...wanted!  The emotional connection.

So we dug in!  We discussed the importance of dividing things equally at times and started to talk about fractions.  And we weren't planning to do so, but we brought up a Powerpoint I made last year that shows some real world examples of fractions in use.

It just went so well.  It was one of those super nice moments where you leave the lesson smiling, feeling good, and hoping that it sticks.

But the true test is always the next day, right? 

The next day we pulled up the second part of the Powerpoint to formally begin looking at fractions and what they really mean.  Our class started cheering.  What!  So silly but SO glad that we made a lasting impression on them.  Or if we didn't, at least the ice cream did :)


  1. Sounds like a yummy day in class! You can always hook them with food :) Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


  2. I love that you started out with something real and practical to them... but I love even more that they didn't want to complain! How CUTE!


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