Learning fractions can sometimes be a difficult topic for third graders. After introducing fractions of a whole and then fractions of a set, my students used this knowledge to create fractional pictures using only square tiles. This was a fun way to incorporate art into math class and by the enthusiasm in the room, I’d say it was a success!
First we discussed the fractional pieces they would be using to create their picture. Each square was identical in size, an important quality in creating fractions. To make totally the number of pieces easier, students could only use whole pieces or half pieces. If they decided to cut a square in half, they had to utilize both pieces in their picture. In their small groups they discussed how they would decide on the numerator and denominator for their finished picture. This is when they realized that they would not be able to write any fractions until their entire picture was complete so they could total the number of square tiles they used (the denominator). As a group, they decided to count the colors to indicate their numerators.
While the finished picture could be any type of person they wanted, most students decided to create mini-me pictures (as close to resembling themselves as possible). Some so detailed they even included karate kicks and flips of their hair! Some however decided to create their favorite creatures!
As an added challenge, I told them they could determine new fractions by identifying either body parts or clothing as the fractions as well. This was a bit of a challenge since they had to overlook the color of the tiles and only focus on one attribute (the placement of the tiles). This strengthened their understanding that while the denominator always stayed the same, the numerator could be found in a variety of ways. I think the most rewarding fact for me was when they started to realize that if they added up all the numerators, then that would equal the denominator! Self-discovery at its best!