Converting Fractions, Decimals, and Percents
By Mary Montero
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Before we left for wonderful winter break (and, oh, how wonderful it was), we spent a week focusing on percentages along with converting fractions, decimals, and percents. Percents seems to be one of those things that students have long heard of and had interest in, but never really been taught. They also seem to be one of those concepts that is incredibly intimidating to my students. I planned several activities around the skill, and my students did a great job with it. We have three days of school next week, so we are going to review and finish up then, but I thought I’d pop in to share some of the fun things we have already done! (Including a few activities you can do in your class and a freebie for you as well!)
How to Introduce Converting Fractions, Decimals, and Percents
We started by using this Converting Percents, Decimals, and Fractions Flippable from Jennifer Smith Jochen. She has a great blog post about the foldable HERE, and my students loved how sleek and clean it looked. I usually have my students do a lot of the writing, so this was a welcome change for them.
This was a GREAT teaching tool. I had all of the kids cut out their pieces (which are NOT in order on the sheet, which is so helpful for this activity) and mix them up.Then I had them take all of the example pieces and put them with the correct conversion type (so the one on the top left in the picture below was matched to percent to fraction, etc.) Then, they had to look at the example to find the appropriate steps and match them up.They did a great job with this and really took some ownership over figuring out which went with which.
As they glued into their foldables, we made a converting fractions anchor chart together as well. This is definitely a “raw” look at an anchor chart. We made it as a class and there are a few little mess ups I made as we reworded things together and worked through examples together. They have been referencing both their foldable and the anchor chart throughout the rest of their work with this concept. That is always my goal!
The next day, I wanted them to show some “proof” of their thinking.I saw Teaching in Room 6’s blog had a great exercise for their math notebooks. If you haven’t already, you must check out her blog because it has a ton of great ideas for reinforcing this concept!
We folded our paper into thirds and glued the middle third down, then cut the remaining flaps into fifths. I let them choose which fractions they wanted to work with, then they put a fraction on the outside, equivalent fractions on the top flap (I made them determine whether or not they could get the fraction over 100) percentage and drawing in the middle and decimal form on the bottom. This was a fun way to review the concept the day after they had learned it!
We also used this FREE set of converting fractions task cards in a game of SCOOT! If you don’t know how to play, this post has SCOOT directions along with a free set of task cards to help. For extra practice, you can also add in these converting fractions and decimals task cards.
Real World Percent Connections
I always like to show students how they will actually use new math concepts in the real world. First, I had groups do a “Rock the Relevance” activity. I have done several activities like this to make the learning relevant to the students. They came up with different categories and reasons why we might use percents (since this was our main focus), and then they had to brainstorm real world scenarios and word problems that fit underneath. They had a lot of fun with this one, too, and they absolutely love seeing how the math concepts may come in handy someday soon.
We also worked through percent word problem task cards in small groups. As we worked through them, we put each card under the correct category. The sorting part was a total spur of the moment activity, but there is something about sorting the kids really seem to love!
Skittles Math for Converting Fractions
Finally, the absolute favorite activity involved Skittles! Even though they were enjoying candy while working, they worked so diligently to complete the assignment, and I was so proud of their hard work.
You can find the templates and student instructions for these activities in my Skittles Math Printables. There are several activities in the packet for different upper grades concepts, and to be quite honest, I’m shocked I’ve never blogged about them before. I have a huge stash of Skittles in my room simply because I need them at the ready when I want to use all the different activities!
First, they took their skittles to work on some converting using hundreds charts. They wrote their Skittles colors in fraction form, converted it to percents and decimals, and also represented it on a hundreds chart . The last step really helps students visualize that percentages are still only parts of a whole, which was a concept many of my students struggled with.
Then, we did MY favorite activity! For this exercise, students create a circle graph using Skittles. They use the Skittles to form a circle, then trace around the inside of it using their pencil.They divide the sections based on where the Skittles are to make a really fabulous visual! They are always amazed at this, and I’ve done this activity with kids in grades 3-6. I had the students write the percents, fractions, and decimals of each color Skittle inside the circle graph. Love, love, love this activity!
More Fraction and Decimal Ideas
For the ultimate bundle of fraction activities, I recommend this HUGE Discounted set of 324 Fraction Task Cards! These task cards have been designed to extend, reteach, and enrich your fraction unit. All of the fraction task cards give students multiple opportunities to show their understanding of fractions. A variety of visual models and word problems are included in each task card set for deeper understanding of the fraction concepts.
I’m so glad you are here. I’m a current gifted and talented teacher in a small town in Colorado, and I’ve been in education since 2009. My passion (other than my family and cookies) is for making teachers’ lives easier and classrooms more engaging.