As the fourth grade math year runs to it end, consider this:
Were fractions at least a quarter to a third of the math you covered during the year?
Did you know that fractions: equivalence, like denominators and mixed numbers are one of 3 focus standards in the new Common Core Standards adopted by many (almost all) of the 50 states in the US?
A clear understanding and broad base of experience with fractions are crucial (CRUCIAL) for a positive and useful algebra experience later on (and yes, we 4th grade teachers are partially responsible for the experience down the road).
It is not just "another topic" to cover: it is one of the three pillars of fourth grade mathematics.
Fractions taught in isolation without manipulatives is useless: so don't try cramming it all in numerically. Fractions is a HUGELY important CONCEPT, not simply another SKILL to check off.
Why should you use manipulatives?
Manipulatives serve four purposes:
- They engage the senses. Multi-sensory tools have been shown to dramatically increase understanding and retention. Many students, especially those who had difficulty in school, need multisensory tools to learn effectively.
- They help students discover concepts. This is especially true for math concepts. It can be difficult, for example, to explain how 2/4 = 1⁄2, but with when students physically moves shapes, they can prove it for themselves.
- They help keep students focused. Everyone appreciates a little variety. By varying activities, you help your student to stay focused and keep learning.
- They encourage practice. Students will often practice more with manipulatives than they will with worksheets.