# What Are Fraction Strips?

Jan 18, 2024When a child first begins to count, they immediately begin to be encouraged by their adults to count a multitude of things: fingers, blocks, claps, steps etc. Associating a number with a specific quantity is the very cornerstone of number sense. So much so that if you peek inside any Kindergarten classroom you will find tools to help students master this concept such as linking cubes, circle counters, counting bears, rekenreks, counting blocks and more.

Likewise, when students are introduced to and begin performing operations with fractions, they need a concrete representation to help them link the written fraction to an actual quantity. This is where fraction strips enter the arena.

**So, what are Fraction Strips?**

Fraction strips, sometimes called fraction tiles or fraction bars, are long and rectangular shaped manipulatives that can be used to represent and model different fractions from halves to twelfths. When placed together in rows the topmost and largest strip can represent the “whole,” followed beneath by two equal sized strips that represent one-half each of the whole above. The pattern continues as you travel down the rows with thirds, fourths, fifths and so on all the way down to twelfths.

**Types of Fraction Strips**

The fraction strips you can purchase online from retailers like Amazon or educational supply companies are most commonly made of plastic but can also be wooden or even magnetic. You can also make your own fraction strips - in the classroom, teachers frequently lead a hands-on activity in which students make their own fraction strips out of paper.

Fraction strip printable PDFs are also available to download and use with your student. These are an easy way to get started because you don't have to worry about finding enough different colors or dividing the strips evenly. Just print & go! If you can print them on cardstock, they will be more durable and easier to move around. If you're feeling crafty you can laminate the fraction strips to make them extra sturdy. We actually like to have them printed on glossy cardstock at our local office supply store. It usually costs less than $1 and helps the fraction strips last much longer without having to do the extra work of laminating them.

**Why You Should Use Blank Fraction Strips**

When searching for fraction strips, you might notice that some are labeled with different fractions while others just have different colors but no labels. We highly recommend ** not** labeling the fraction strips and leaving them

**instead. Why? By definition, a fraction is a number that represents a part of a whole. Students need to understand that β represents 1 part of a whole that has been divided into 3 equal parts. They need to be able to apply that knowledge to problem solve. In the real world (which includes your student’s math workbook and homework pages), those**

*blank**parts*and

*wholes*can be many different things: problems may refer to part of a sandwich, part of a lawn, part of a piece of paper or part of a group of marbles. If your student only completes activities with

*labeled*fraction strips, finding the β strip is as easy as, well just looking for the strip labeled “β .” Then when it comes time to find β of a group of marbles they will be totally lost.

**How Can Fraction Strips Help My Student with Fractions?**

- First and foremost, fraction strips provide students a visual and concrete representation of a fraction.
- When not labeled, students can further develop their fraction sense by exploring more options as the “whole.” For example, if given one of the purple strips from the picture above, which color strip would be ½ of the purple one?
- You can also do the same thing mentioned above, but backwards! For example, give your student one of the light brown fraction strips and ask, “If this strip is β of the whole, which strip would represent the whole?” (Hint: it's the light blue one π)

- Fraction strips can also come in handy for accurately drawing and partitioning a number line with fractions. Need to draw and partition a number line into fourths? Just use the edge of the dark brown strip to draw your number line, then grab the purple strip and use it to place tick marks on the line for each fourth.
- Finally fraction strips are extremely helpful to use when solving many different types of problems and in fact most math curriculums include them as models in textbook examples. Fraction strips prove to be especially useful when solving problems modeling fractions, comparing fractions, equivalent fractions and dividing fractions.

**Fraction Strips Printable**

To help you get started, we've put together a FREE fraction strips printable you can download and use right away. This resource is great for trying out some of the activities mentioned above, or for use with some of our other fraction strip activities. They also come in handy while working through fractions homework!

This fraction strips printable PDF features:

- Fraction strips up to 12
- Dotted lines for easy cutting
- Guides on the top and bottom, so students can easily line them up correctly

**{{ Download your FREE Fraction Strips Printable Here }}**

For even more help with fractions check out our FREE Ultimate Guides to Fractions available for grades 3rd - 6th and check out our online courses, Fractions Unlocked: Introduction to Fractions and Fractions Unlocked 2: Expanding Fraction Skills.

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