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Tips For Teaching Fractions In Special Education · Mrs. P’s Specialties

The thought of teaching fractions can be a bit scary and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years that have made it so much easier (and more fun too!!) for my students.

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visuals to break down fractions concepts

Use visuals!! We use visuals for our students all the time, so use them for introducing and expanding on fractions as well. This fractions unit has all of the visuals you’ll need to help your students learn and master fractions.

Photo of materials in the fractions math unit

Using these visuals really helps break down this abstract math concept for your students. It starts out simple with whole vs. part and moves up in levels, allowing for lots of review along the way. It also allows students to generalize the skill as they go with varied practice. My students have had so much success learning with these visuals!

Hands on fractions practice

We know our students learn best when they are engaged in hands-on learning, and that’s true for learning fractions as well. There are some simple materials you can use to teach the concept. Legos are GREAT hands on tool to add to your lessons, they come in the perfect sizes to show whole, half, quarters, etc. You can also use snap blocks, Velcro food, mini erasers and Playdoh.

manipulatives to teach fractions; blocks, legos, velcro food, mini rerasers and playdoh

Pattern blocks are also perfect for targeting this concept, most of the smaller shapes can be used to make one of the bigger shapes. Each of the smaller shapes is a fraction of the bigger shape.

How about a magnetic tens frame with different magnets or different colored dry erase markers? So, for example, put 3 green dots and 7 red dots in the tens frame and talk about what fraction of the dots are green or red.

You could also have students roll dice a specified number of times and record their rolls. What fraction of their rolls were 5s? How about 3s?

Cooking up fractions

Cooking group is an easy way to show students math in action. (If you don’t do a cooking group in your class, you should consider it. You can target so many skills!). There are fractions in most recipes that involve measuring. For example, use measuring cups to show that it takes 4 of the ¼ cup measuring cups to equal 1 whole cup. The same can be done with measuring spoons.

Tips For Teaching Fractions In Special Education · Mrs. P's Specialties

Make math meaningful by dividing up what you’ve cooked into fractions. You can cut a pizza into equal parts and show that each piece is a fraction of the whole pizza, frost cookies, etc.

Another way to work on it is to take polls about food and see what fraction of the kids like which food better. For example: there are 12 kids in the class who voted on which ice cream they liked best, and 3 of them said they like chocolate, 5 like vanilla, and 4 like strawberry.  Now use those numbers to show fractions: 5/12 students liked vanilla ice cream best, 4/12 strawberry and 3/12 chocolate.


Bowling is an easy game illustrate this math concept. The number of pins a student knocks down in a turn is always a fraction! We have small, table top versions of bowling that my students love to play with that are perfect for working on fractions during small group math instruction or the game center.

pin image for the blog post with tips on teaching fractions to special education students.

Fractions are everywhere and with these simple tips, your students will be learning them in no time!

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