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A Fun Lesson for Teaching Proper Fractions

By Margo Dill

Here is a fun food art activity that is also a lesson in proper fractions and mixed numbers. You can let students create sugar cookie designs and then ask them fraction questions based on their designs. It's a lesson that will change each time you do it, based on students' creativity.


Before you start this fun lesson to teach proper and mixed fractions, you will need to bake or buy plain sugar cookies. icing, sprinkles and anything else you want to decorate cookies with. To cut down on expense, send home a materials list at least a week before the activity and ask parents to volunteer to send in materials. You want at least three different colors of icing and sprinkles for the teaching proper fractions part of the lesson. You need one sugar cookie for each student in your class.


This lesson on proper and mixed fractions is perfect for students who know what a fraction looks like and have been introduced to the terms: numerator and denominator.

Students start by decorating their sugar cookie with at least one color of icing of their choice and one color of sprinkles. While students are decorating, you can remind them of what you have learned about fractions so far.

The Lesson

Place the decorated cookies somewhere in the room where they are easy to see. You may have to do this fun lesson plan to teach proper and mixed fractions in small groups, so students can see the cookies easily. First, tell students that a proper fraction is one where the numerator is less than the denominator, such as 5/8. Then with students, figure out how many cookies there are and what your denominator will be to answer each question. For example, if there are 24 kids in your class, there will be 24 cookies and your denominator will be 24.

Then ask students questions such as: "What fraction of the sugar cookies have blue icing on them?" Students will count the ones with blue icing and say for example, "8." Show students how the 8 becomes the numerator, so you have the fraction 8/24. Continue to ask questions until students understand creating fractions.

For variation with the denominator, you can ask questions like: "Out of the cookies the girls made, what fraction have red sprinkles?" "The front row's cookies have what fraction of yellow icing?"

Make sure to write the proper fractions on chart paper or the board as students say them.

Variation: Practicing Mixed Numbers

Proper and mixed fractions for mixed numbers may be addressed. However, they may be to advanced for many students. Ask students to get in pairs and decorate 3 to 4 cookies. You tell them what to decorate in this variation of the lesson. For example, you'll say, "Make 1 1/2 of your cookies red." "Put sprinkles on 2 1/3 of your cookies."

Conclusion of Lesson

To conclude either variation, ask questions about objects in the room for students to answer orally like: "What fraction of backpacks are gray?" or "What fraction of the desks are in the front row?" You can even allow students to pose the questions and allow other students to answer. As students practice naming fractions and what the terms numerator and denominator mean, they will become more familiar with fractions and be able to tackle harder concepts.


Math Is Fun: