Lesson plan

Illustrating Mixed Number Sums with Tape Diagrams

Your students will learn to add unlike mixed numbers using tape diagrams.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to add unlike mixed numbers using tape diagrams.

(5 minutes)
  • Tell your kids that things are easier to do when they’re listed in a few easy-to-follow steps.
  • Have them think, pair, and share something they could describe in four, easy-to-follow steps. Walk around the room to listen in on student shares.
  • Share out to the class a few great examples you overheard and connect that today’s math lesson. Draw a connection by telling your class that today’s math lesson involves performing a task in four, easy-to-follow steps.
  • Review the associative property of addition involving mixed numbers with your class, (Aab + Bcd) = (A + B) + (ab + cd) and answer any clarifying questions.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell your students that they’ll be learning how to find mixed number sums using tape tape diagram solutions.
  • Display the Problems, Fractions, and Tape Diagrams worksheet and preview the four-step procedure.
(10 minutes)
  • Perform the first exercise with your students and answer any clarifying questions.
(15 minutes)
  • Have your class complete the remaining exercises.


  • Pull a small group of emerging students and include a stronger student as a teacher’s apprentice. Get the group going then check in on other students throughout independent work time. Check in repeatedly to be sure the group is on track.


  • Challenge advanced students to demonstrate the four-step procedure with subtraction.
  • Taking photographs of real-time solutions then uploading them into online documents for classroom discussion is a great resource for teachable moments.
(5 minutes)
  • Show your students a table showing the least common multiple for 9 and 3.
  • Have your students explain a possible expression and tape diagram solution.
(10 minutes)
  • Share out solutions with the whole class.
  • Discuss: What clues does a sum give us about its addends?

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