Four operations of fractions by folding paper

Another idea from Mike Ollerton’s workshops.  This file gives a comprehensive explanation of the activity, which starts like this:


I have used a similar task before but I realised that I had missed a key step which is to label each fraction after folding:


The file then goes on to describe how to use this for demonstrating all four operations: add, subtract, multiply, divide. It’s a lovely way of reinforcing the concept of equivalent fractions at every stage.

My only reservation with this task is that doing the folding in the first place might be a barrier for some learners.  Especially folding something into thirds – it’s not straightforward.

I have added some Powerpoint printables that provide guidelines along which to fold. Note these are set up as A4, so print them 2 to a page and then cut.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 17.46.26

In a sense, I can see that this might detract from the notion of “folding in half” because it becomes “fold along that line”.  I haven’t had enough experience of which is the “better” way to do this – I’d be very happy if anyone wanted to share their thoughts!



2 thoughts on “Four operations of fractions by folding paper”

  1. Thanks, Mark Our school cook used to make a delicious date slice in a tray. She’d cut it up like lightning and I’d take the children to watch her. It was a marvellous fractions lesson. First cut (using the first of your diagrams) a vertical cut to halve; then two more vertical cuts to halve each half. Then the two horizontal cuts into thirds so we now had twelfths. Then six diagonal cuts so each square became two isosceles right-angled triangles and we’d got twenty-fourths. All done in about 15 seconds.
    PS When I left the school her daughter presented me with a big cardboard box. It was warm. All I could think of was that the stupid child had given me a puppy! In fact she’d got up at five a.m. to make me my own tray of date slice!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s