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Equivalent Fractions on a Multiplication Chart

There's no getting around it, fifth grade math can be really challenging- especially for kids that are still struggling to understand the foundational skills. I have had so many kiddos over the years that could not master adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators just because they did not know their math multiplication facts. Math facts are super important, but as a teacher I always felt it was my duty to find a way to help them understand the more abstract concept of equivalent fractions. So, I started using multiplication charts to help my struggling learners understand and create equivalent fractions- but maybe not in the way you are thinking.

We all know that kids who haven't memorized their math facts benefit from multiplication charts. That is no surprise! The process for using a multiplication chart to find equivalent fractions is time consuming, though. You have to find the correct product for 2 numerators and 2 denominators- that is 4 separate math problems to solve before you can even begin to solve the problem. That is a challenge for kids with low attention spans, processing speed issues, or even just kids who are easily distracted. Instead, I have my kiddos use the multiplication chart as a reference sheet for equivalent fractions for benchmark fractions.

If you look at the chart, you can use the factors listed on the left hand side as the numerator and denominator. In my example above, the rows colored red show fractions that are equivalent to 1/2: 2/4, 3/6, etc. The rows that are colored blue show fractions that are equivalent to 3/4, yellow shows fractions equivalent to 5/6, and so on. I train my kids to find the benchmark fraction they are looking for, and then look at all the equivalent fractions shown for the original fraction. We talk about why this works, too, which is an incredibly important part of understanding so this doesn't become just a "trick" that they will memorize without any value or meaning behind it. Since both the numerator and denominator are multiplied by the same number, it creates an equivalent fraction. To deeper understanding for all of my kiddos, we talk about the identify property of multiplication and the fact that it relates to all numbers- fractions included! Since you are multiplying both the numerator and denominator by the same number, for example 2, that is the same as multiplying the whole fraction by 2/2, or 1 whole. 

In the past, I have printed a blackline box on cardstock to help kids track the fractions. The guide works to help kids with tracking issues to follow the equivalent fractions across the page. It also helps students with focus or attention trouble stay on task with a reduced amount of visual "clutter." On the colored multiplication chart, I like to use a white guide and on a white multiplication chart I like to use colored cardstock.

If you want to give this idea a shot, I've created a freebie with a blank multiplication chart, a color coded chart, and several variations of those. The freebie also includes a template to cut the paper guides to help students track the fractions across the page!  To download it, click here.
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