A First Lesson on Fractions

This free math video shows me introducing fractions with Cuisenaire Rods to a friend of my daughters. It’s pretty easy to see that oftentimes the child leads the way in the discussion, sometimes rushing ahead of you and sometimes needing more time to digest the concepts.

The most difficult part of doing fractions this way is changing the names of the rods, calling something other than the white rod “one.” Therefore, this activity should be done many times with different rods named as “one” before trying to introduce more complex concepts. Having the ability to rename any rod as “one” or the “whole” makes adding and subtracting fractions later on very easy because children can switch back and forth between regular multiplication with the rods (where white is “one” in order to find the LCM) back to thinking in terms of fractional parts of whatever rod length is the denominator. And it makes it easier for them to know which rods to grab if, for instance, they want to find 7/8 of the orange-orange-purple (24) rod.