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Create and Display: Proper and improper fractions

24 August 2011

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By Sue Reed and Liz Webstereducational writers

Take a look inside Create and Display: Mathematics with these display ideas on the topic of proper and improper fractions

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Focus of learning

To recognise what proper, improper and mixed numbers are and to be able to convert improper fractions to mixed fractions

Whole-class starter

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Explain to the children that they are going to learn about three types of fractions. But before they start they need to establish what they already know about fractions. Using the IWB show the children a selection of pictorial fractions. Ask the children to identify the fractions. Discuss what part of the fraction is needed in order to make it a whole.

Play ‘Proper or Improper’. On the IWB create a slideshow that has two walls. One which looks like a graffiti wall and one that looks like a non-graffiti wall. On the graffiti wall write the word ‘improper’ and on the non-graffiti wall write the word ‘proper’. Give each child a paddle with red on one side and green on the other. A fraction pops up on the board. If the children think it is a proper fraction they show the red side of the paddle, and if they think it is improper they show the green side. Once the children have decided reveal the answer on the IWB. To extend this activity give each child a sticky-note and ask them to write a proper or improper fraction and place it on the correct wall on the IWB (this will check their understanding).

After the children have established what improper and proper fractions look like, play ‘The Art of Fractions’. Show the children a fraction and ask them to draw it pictorially.

Tell the children that you are going to show them a third type of fraction. Introduce the term ‘mixed fraction’ and show them an example, such as 1½. Discuss with the children that an improper fraction can be changed into a mixed fraction. Give them some examples: 3/2 becomes 1½ or 5/4 becomes 1¼. Play ‘Mix and Match’ using the green and red paddles. Create a slideshow display which flashes up two fractions. If the fractions match the children show the green side of the paddle. If they do not match they show the red side.

Practical activities

Play ‘Rainbow Fractions’. Place a large piece of paper with a mixed fraction written on in the middle of each table. Give each child a set of sticky-notes. The children move around the classroom visiting each mixed fraction. At each mixed fraction the children must write an equivalent improper fraction on a sticky-note and stick it onto the large piece of paper. Give the children a set time to get rid of all their sticky-notes. Play ‘Bucket Bonanza’. Give each child a bucket with a different mixed fraction on the front. Make a large amount of improper fractions that match the mixed fractions. Hide these all around the school or classroom. On a given signal the children must race to find all the improper fractions that are equivalent to their mixed fraction.

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Play ‘Finding Fractions’. Make a set of laminated searchword-style boards with improper and mixed fractions all over it. Give each child in the group a board and ten different-coloured whiteboard pens. On a given signal the children must race to circle an improper and mixed fraction that correspond with each other. They must use a different-coloured pen for each pair. The child who finds ten equivalent fractions is the winner. This could be a timed activity.

Art and display ideas

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Using graffiti as inspiration help the children to create a graffiti wall in school. Using card, paint and collage materials the children can create their own graffiti wall to use on the display. Using classic pieces of art to symbolise ‘proper’ art ask the children to draw, paint and chalk some classic pieces of artwork. For example, Mona Lisa by da Vinci (1503), Sunflowers by Monet (1881), The Snail by Matisse (1952–1953), Still Life, Drapery, Pitcher and Fruit Bowl by Cezanne (1893–1894).

Cross-curricular links

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  • Art – Study art through the decades and how it has changed and what brought about these varying art forms. Look at Vorticism, cubism, surrealism, for example.
  • Art – Study the history of graffiti and how it has progressed from an antisocial action to an art form. Look at the work of Banksy.


Scholastic Create and Display is a new cross-curricular series full of exciting new creative ideas and activities. Each set of activities is based around a colourful new in-class display to create with your students. Each book is based around a central creative theme, such as Reading or Festivals, and all steps are explained allowing you to effectively create and display your students’ work in your own classroom!

Take a look at Create and Display books and CD-ROMs in the Scholastic Shop.

Also, the new Create & Display Interactive series provides Interactive Whiteboard resources, photos and videos to help teachers effectively develop and display their pupils’ artwork. Activities are based around a colourful in-class display to create with students.

Take a look at Create and Display Interactive CD-ROMs in the Scholastic Shop.



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