# Fractions Roadmap: What to Expect in Each Grade

Jan 09, 2023Math instruction in the very early elementary years is all about counting and comparing numbers followed by addition and subtraction. Everyone helps their students along with these skills because they *know* how critical these skills are. However, what many parents do not understand is, beginning with the 3rd grade year, a new set of foundational skills are introduced that are also mission critical to future math success: multiplication and division facts AND FRACTIONS.

Success in fractions = success in middle school. In grades 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th, students build an extremely important foundational knowledge of fractions as they learn how to model and perform operations with them. The end goal is to independently interpret and solve real world single step and multi-step word problems that could require them to do any of the following with fractions and mixed numbers: draw a variety of models, compare, order, make equivalent fractions, simplify, add, subtract, multiply and divide. All of these skills are heavily relied upon as students progress through 6th and into 7th and 8th grades. They will use their knowledge of fractions to solve problems with ratios and proportions, percents, statistics and probability, expressions, equations and functions.

Basically, from here on out in math, there is no escape from fractions. The best advice we can offer is to embrace and accept the fraction presence and arm yourself with knowledge! We thought we could help out in this department by providing you with a breakdown of what is covered each year in grades 3rd through 6th in the fraction arena.

**3rd Grade: Fractions Are Introduced**

**3rd graders will begin developing fraction sense, learning what fractions are, how to model fractions and compare them. **

3rd grade is the first year that students really begin working toward developing fraction sense through investigation of what a fraction is and represents. They begin using more specific vocabulary related to fractions such as numerator, denominator, whole, halves, thirds, fourths, etc., and explore different strategies for modeling fractions including shapes, number lines and sets. These models are used to relate fractions to whole numbers, compare and order fractions, and identify and name equivalent fractions. Students in 3rd grade usually do not perform any operations with fractions, but instead problem solve with the previously mentioned concepts to gain a strong knowledge of fractions.

**4th Grade: Fractions Are Expanded**

**4th graders learn more about equivalent fractions, simplest form and finding common denominators. They’ll also begin adding and subtracting simple fractions and multiplying fractions by whole numbers.**

In 4th grade, students are expected to have a good understanding of what a fraction is and how to represent a fractions using different models. Equivalent fractions are revisited, but in 4th grade students expand their knowledge of this concept by learning how to make equivalent fractions using multiplication, by finding a common denominator, and by writing a fraction in simplest form. Comparing and ordering fractions are also leveled up in 4th grade as students learn how to use a benchmark fraction to compare and order fractions, and also how to compare fractions by finding a common denominator. Mixed numbers are introduced in 4th grade and students learn how to convert a mixed number into a fraction greater than 1 and vice versa. 4th graders then go on to adding and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers with like denominators and learn how to rename a mixed number when necessary to subtract. Finally, students scratch the surface of multiplying with fractions by learning how to write a fraction as the product of a unit fraction and a whole number and then how to multiply a fraction by a whole number.

**5th Grade: Fractions are Unleashed**

**5th graders perform all operations with fractions and mixed numbers.**

If we were to pick a grade to declare the most rigorous in regard to working with fractions, it would definitely be 5th grade. 5th graders perform all four operations with fractions including adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. They learn how to add and subtract fractions and mixed numbers with unlike denominators which involves finding common denominators and renaming when necessary to subtract. Then they move on to learning how to solve multiplication problems that could consist of any combination of fractions, mixed numbers and whole numbers. To complete the quattro they are introduced how fractions are related to division (i.e., 12/4 = 12 divided by 4), and learn how to divide a fraction by a whole number and vice versa. Don’t forget, since they learned how to simplify fractions in 4th grade, all of the answers they obtain when performing operations with fractions are usually required to be put in simplest form!

**6th Grade: Fraction Skills Are Applied to New Concepts**

**6th graders add some bells and whistles to what they already know about fractions, such as simplifying before multiplying, and then move on to new frontiers where fractions are an ever-present part of problem solving.**

In 6th grade, students have already completed almost all of the groundwork when it comes to fractions. Near the beginning of the school year, students learn how to convert between fractions and decimals, “cross cancel” factors when multiplying fractions as well as divide fractions and mixed numbers. Throughout the rest of the year, they will be applying all of the fraction skills they have learned so far to solve other types of problems such comparing and ordering rational numbers, plotting rational numbers on a number line and coordinate plane, writing and solving problems with ratios and rates, writing fractions as percentages and decimals, problem solving with percentages, and the list just keeps going. You will see fractions sneak their way in almost all of the 6th grade math lessons.

Knowledge = power. By taking the time to understand what fractional concepts will be introduced to your student this school year, you are already on the right track to helping them be successful in working with fractions.

For more help with fractions, check out our Grade Level Fractions Guides, available for 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades. Stay tuned for our new digital course series coming soon, Fractions Unlocked!

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