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National Curriculum: Fractions (including decimals and precentages) - Year 3 - Activities

Created on 15 October 2013 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 18 January 2016 by ncetm_administrator


Programme of Study statement Activity    
count up and down in tenths; recognise that tenths arise from dividing an object into 10 equal parts and in dividing one-digit numbers or quantities by 10            
recognise, find and write fractions of a discrete set of objects: unit fractions and non-unit fractions with small denominators            
recognise and use fractions as numbers: unit fractions and non-unit fractions with small denominators            
recognise and show, using diagrams, equivalent fractions with small denominators            
add and subtract fractions with the same denominator within one whole (e.g. 5/7 + 1/7 = 6/7)            
compare and order unit fractions, and fractions with the same denominators            
solve problems that involve all of the above            

Activity A – visualising fractions along a line

  • Use counting sticks and bead strings to help children visualise fractions.

If the bead string represents one whole, then each set of ten coloured beads could represent one tenth and each individual bead could represent one hundredth.

  1. Label the two ends of the bead string as 0 and 1. Give students tags to place each tenth on the bead string. You could use a 1-10 bead string instead of a 1-100 bead string.
  2. Join several bead strings together to create fraction lines that extend over one. For example, five bead strings allow fractional numbers from 0 to 5. Label simultaneously in mixed numbers (2 ½) and improper fractions (5/2).
  3. Ask the pupils to represent each tenth with a variety of manipulatives, for example, Numicon, Dienes (Big Base) and coins.
  4. Extend pupils’ understanding to include the equivalence of fractions, decimals and percentages. For example, ½ = 0.5 = 50% or 2 2/10 = 2.2 = 220%

Activity B

This practical activity develops an understanding of the part and the whole,

A series of lessons on finding fractions of amounts from Lesson 11, page 9 onwards based on an alternative, Hungarian approach, to teaching maths. 

Activity C

An activity from New Zealand that involves using number rods to develop children’s understanding that fractions can extend beyond 1.

  • Children can make number lines for display around the classroom, that demonstrate counting in different fractional steps. For example counting in steps of ½ an apple, 1/4s of pizza, 1/10 of a £1 (steps of 10p)

  • Daily practice of counting forwards and backwards in 1/2s, 1/4s, 1/10s and 1/3s, including extending to below zero

Activity D – equivalent fractions

An activity based on Cuisenaire / number rods.

A ‘pelmanism’ style matching activity based on fractions.

  • Use equivalence circles, for example pizza or cake slices in a variety of activities for pupils to explore equivalence.

Activity E – adding fractions

A series of activities based on deepening students’ understanding of adding and subtracting fractions with the same denominator.

  • Use a variety of representations, for example, number rods, paper strips and equivalence circles to model what happens when you add or subtract fractions with the same denominator. This will help children understand why the denominator doesn’t change.

Activity F

NB This resource was produced for the Primary National Strategy, which was formally discontinued in 2011. However, the resource has the potential to complement teaching in line with the new 2014 mathematics curriculum)

This ITP allows you to divide a green strip into a number of equal parts and colour the individual parts in yellow, clearly showing any comparison.

Use mini packets of smarties for children to find the fraction of each colour in a packet. This is useful for comparing fractions with the same denominator and for adding and subtracting fractions

More wonderful ‘Maths and Smarties’ ideas.

Activity G – solving problems

Use the ‘Thinking blocks on the maths playground’ website to model word problems involving fractions and to model adding and subtracting unit fractions. There are video demonstrations, guided problems and the ability to use the blocks to solve your own problems.

Assess and develop children’s understanding of equal sharing with this picnic problem.

Useful Resources

A list of models and images to support the development of children’s understanding of fractions. Includes ideas on how to use them in the classroom.

All the Overcoming Barriers materials from level 1 to level 5 linked to fractions, decimals and percentages contain useful assessment questions and a range of models and images.


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22 April 2018 12:23

Your 'Maths smarties' links do not work.

I love the ideas and they will be very useful. Just thought team should know that not all of your links are functional.
By angharaduden
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08 June 2017 00:04
I am very confused as to why Activity A which is supposed to be for Year 3 suggests putting mixed numbers and improper fractions and making links to percentages.
By leannejbrown
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18 January 2016 15:22
Thank you for letting us know. The reference to linked resources was a mistake and we have removed that.
16 January 2016 19:48

A great seletion of activities.

Regarding Activity B - Understanding unit fractions: a Hungarian approach - the link goes through to a long document of lesson plans which are useful, however there doesn't appear to be any linked resources?

Can anyone help with this?

Many thanks.
By Eredgrave
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