In school, children learn about fractions in two different ways. The first is a fraction as part of a whole, i.e. ½ the pizza is gone. The second way is fractions as part of a set, i.e. 3 out of 4 of the cars are blue. This footwear-focused activity introduces fractions as part of a set and it's the perfect way to generate excitement about fraction concepts. The activity requires a group of people, at least 4. However, the more people involved, the better. Ideal for classrooms and hot days where little feet could use a breather, this activity could also make for a fun party game.
What You Do:
- To begin the activity, ask the participants what their favorite shoes or sandals are to wear. Allow children to share their favorite styles of shoes, colors, brands, etc.
- Next, one at a time, have the kids take off their shoes or sandals and bring them to the front of the room.
- Direct them to line the footwear up on the floor side by side so everyone in the room can see them. Take your shoes off too!
- Begin by having a volunteer count how many individual shoes there are on the floor. For a group of 4 children plus you, there should be 10 shoes on the floor.
- Record this number on the poster board. Tell the children this is the total number of shoes in the set.
- Next, scan the row of shoes and pick a category. For example, you might pick sneakers.
- Ask a different volunteer to come forward and count the number of individual sneakers there are in the row. Verify the accuracy while the child is counting.
- When the child announces the number of sneakers to the group, record this number above the total number of shoes, creating a fraction on the poster board.
- For our example, if there were 10 total shoes and 6 of them were sneakers, the fraction on the poster board should be 6/10.
- Repeat the process, but pick a different category and a different child to count the shoes. For example, you could pick all white shoes or a brand of shoes. Record the new fraction on the poster board and say the name of the fraction aloud.
- Continue picking out shared qualities of shoes and having different children identify how many shoes there are for each category.
- After you have a few fractions on the board, ask the children to compare the fractions: Which of the numbers are the same?
- Explain that the bottom number of the fraction is called the denominator. All the bottom numbers, or denominators, in the fractions on the board are the same because the total number of shoes never changes.
- Now ask them: Which numbers are different? Tell them that the top number in a fraction is called the numerator. The numerator changes depending on how many shoes there are for each category.
- Once the kids seem to have a solid handle on numerators and denominators have them reclaim their shoes.
Take It Further:
Continue the activity by challenging the kids to come up with different objects in the room that they could separate into parts of a set and keep the fraction-creation process going!