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ERIC Number: EJ936533
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-1326-0286
Body Fractions: A Physical Approach to Fraction Learning
Mills, Judith
Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, v16 n2 p17-22 2011
Many students experience great difficulty understanding the meaning of fractions. For many students who have spent their early mathematics lessons focusing on counting (whole) numbers, recognising that there are many numbers between those whole numbers called fractional numbers, is quite revolutionary. The foundation of understanding fractions is the idea that they are parts of a whole. The fact that one whole object can be divided into many equal parts, with each part having a name relative to the original whole, opens up a whole new realm of number understanding for the students. Understanding what a fraction means and how to operate with fractions is often daunting for many students. Even more intimidating is the appreciation of how fractional knowledge can be successfully applied in everyday life. The issue of how students come to understand fractions is quite contentious. In this article, the author outlines a different way of exploring fractions: using a physical approach. While the body fraction activity is limited to understanding of wholes, halves and quarters, it has many applications beyond the simple representation of those particular quantities. It enables students to experience multiple representations of the whole, half and quarter as fractions greater than the one whole, something which many students struggle with. (Contains 7 figures.)
Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT). GPO Box 1729, Adelaide 5001, South Australia. Tel: +61-8-8363-0288; Fax: +61-8-8362-9288; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 5; Grade 6; Grade 7; Grade 8
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A