We just wrapped up our fractions unit and I wanted to share with you a fun and engaging lesson I used with my fourth graders. As much as possible, I like to introduce new math topics with books. There is a wonderful book by Edward Einhorn titled Fractions in Disguise. This is the story about George Cornelius Factor and his love of collecting fractions. When his beloved fraction goes missing, he discovers it was stolen by the evil Dr. Brock. Dr. Brock has disguised his fraction and he has to use his reducer gun to find his missing fraction. It is a fantastically engaging story that my students loved. You can buy the book from Amazon here.
After reading the book, we reviewed our learning of fractions. At this point, students have been introduced to equivalency with fractions. I used the example from the book to show how George Cornelius Factor used his reducer gun to simplify the fraction. We spent some time discussing and defining the synonyms reduce and simplify. I then told students that today they were going to get their own reducer gun that they can use to simplify fractions.
Our reducer gun is called the Magic One. Check out my notes page here for Magic 1. I use fraction friends to give my students a starting place. Most of the fractions that need to be simplified can be done with these friends. I stress the importance that what is done to the numerator must be done to the denominator. This is what makes it the Magic 1. Sometimes, students try to divide by different numbers and they can self-correct when they realize it’s not Magic 1.
Overall, this activity was highly engaging and my students loved using their “reducer gun” to simplify fractions. It is definitely a lesson they won’t forget! How do you teach simplifying fractions. I would love to hear back from you below.