Real World Fractions

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Posted on Aug 20 2013 - 1:00am by Jill
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Real World Fractions

Today is Day 2 in the How Do I Teach Blog Series and as you might be able to tell, math is not my favorite subject.  Today I will discuss how I use everyday math to teach Beck and Elizabeth fraction math skills by helping with do-it-yourself (DIY) projects around the house while making learning real world fractions fun!

If you follow my blog you might remember that I sometimes have DIY projects that I blog about.  Some of these are construction related where we build something.  We tend to build these projects as a family and my husband and I are really good about making it into a math lesson for our children, Beck and Elizabeth.  You might ask how can a DIY project relate to math? Well, if you look closely at most DIY projects out there they all tend to involve measurements of some kind.  And these measurements are almost all in the same type of complicated math too, fractions.  It is fun to watch Beck and my husband measure things in fractions and use those little tick marks on a tape measure.  It is even fulfilling when they start calling out measurements back and forth to each other in fractions.  Then, to make it even more of a lesson, we will have Beck do the measuring and counting in fractions as my husband cuts pieces of wood.  This process repeats itself until the project is done.  Sometimes the measurements are off, but that’s a blog post for another time.

One of the items that Beck and Elizabeth love is their Lego Table.  Since they are growing taller, it is time to adjust the height of the table that they use.  Beck and my husband have done this before, but it is perfect time to do it again.  To illustrate that this DIY adjustments takes real world math skills, here is Elizabeth Measuring how high it needs to be for Beck to use it comfortably:

Real World Fractions

Then I had Beck measure how high it needed to be for Elizabeth:

Real World Fractions

Once they both had their turns I asked them to compare the results.  They decided that Beck’s number was higher than Elizabeth’s, so we needed to raise it 6” for Beck.  So, Beck and my husband went out to the shed and found some tools and 2×4 pieces.

Real World Fractions

My husband again took out his fraction tape measure and had Beck mark each board at the 6” mark using the tape measure.  Then he also had Beck transfer the measure to the entire side of the wood piece so that my husband could cut a straight line with another tool.

Real World Fractions

While my husband was cutting and sanding the edges of the pieces he had Beck find the best suited drill bit to make guide holes for the screws with.  Beck picked the 5/8” drill bit then realized he was using fractions again.

Real World Fractions

So, with the right size drill bit picked and the wood extension measured, cut, and sanded, it was time to assemble them and see if worked out.

Real World Fractions

Both kids love the new height of their Lego Table.  Beck says he can get closer to his toys now and he even had fun using Dad’s fraction tools.  He was amazed that so many tools are in fractions and even said he might need to practice his fractions more too.

Here are some of my other DIY projects and how they are examples of everyday uses of math…

DIY Teacher's Lectern

Here is an example of a DIY Lectern project that we did so that Beck, Elizabeth, and my husband could make our schoolroom a lectern for me to organize my materials and teach from.  The wood was all recycled and various lengths had to be measured multiple times by Beck to make sure it all matched up.  Beck even had to help select the proper angle for the top of the sides too.  My husband made this one fun for Beck to by using his fractions only tape measure.

DIY Kids Computer Desk

Here is another example of fractions in use with my DIY Kids Desks.  In this project, Beck helped my husband turn some older furniture into a computer desk for school to help organize where the kid’s computer will go.  This project relied a lot on fractions and all the parts were recycled and I had Beck measure all the pieces to find out what materials we had.

DIY Book Display Shelves

Here is another example of using math in DIY projects with my DIY Book Display Shelves.  This DIY project involved Beck and my husband creating channeled shelves for me to display library books near the school room.  This is one of the first DIY projects that we did with Beck to start him down the path of relating his math studies to things in the real world.

DIY Lego Table

And lastly, although not described in the post, my husband and Beck’s true first DIY project together years ago when Beck was in 1st grade was to create a Lego Table for all of Beck and Elizabeth’s Lego toys that we modified above.

So, through the use of DIY projects, Beck and Elizabeth get to learn about fractions and real world math skills disguised as everyday tasks.

How Do I Teach .. 5 Day Blog Series

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