Introducing Fractions


CCSS.Math.Content.3.NF.A.1 Understand a fraction 1/b as the quantity formed by 1 part when a whole is partitioned into b equal parts


The student will learn the definition of fraction, parts of fractions and how fractions have been used in past and present. This lesson begins with a video example of how fractions could be used by Native Americans to keep track of time. Next, a presentation is used to give a definition of fraction, numerator and denominator. Both the presentation and the second video use one-half as an example of a fraction. Other videos and presentation in the lesson divide a whole into fourths. The entire lesson takes 25-30 minutes.

Lesson Plan

1. Video: An example of how our ancestors used fractions

How Native Americans used fractions 1:21

This video explains how a whole area, such as a lake, could be broken into equal parts and how that knowledge could be applied to tell time, thereby avoiding the danger of going home in the dark.

2. Presentation: Definitions of fractions, numerator and denominator

This presentation, with 25 slides, defines a fraction and each of its parts. One-half is used as an example of a fraction. You can access this presentation as Google Slides or PowerPoint. We estimate it takes about 7 minutes, with pauses for student input.

3. Video: Is one-half fair?

When something is divided into two equal parts, that is one-half 1:22

How many times have you heard kids insist something wasn’t fair? This video uses fractions and the concept of one-half to determine if two people are doing the their fair share of the work, getting their fair share of a pile of blankets.

4. Video: What is half

What is one half? 1:40

In this example of meeting between two camps, students will learn the definition of one-half and how to apply this knowledge to determine if the distribution of effort is fair. The video provides both examples of one-half – a whole divided into two equal parts – and non-examples, when a whole is divided into two unequal parts.

5. Presentation: Using fractions

This presentation, with 13 slides, gives an example of dividing a trail into four equal parts, fourths, or quarters. Zoongey Giniw sets his snares at four spots, equal distances apart on the trail. The presentation is available in PowerPoint or Google Slides. We estimate it takes about 5 minutes.

6. Video: Why Snare Rabbits?

Why Turtle Mountain has a Jackrabbit Road :58

Why is Zoongey Giniw snaring rabbits? As Turtle Mountain elder, Deb Gourneau explains in this video, when the Ojibwe people on the Turtle Mountain reservation did not have deer to eat and could not leave the reservation, they escaped starvation by snaring rabbits.

7. Game Play: Fish Lake

Students can play Fish Lake on Mac or Windows computers or iPad. Fish Lake covers fractions a long list of fractions standards. Recommended time: 15 minutes. Teachers in the Growing Math program receive licenses for Fish Lake for all of their students. If you need a license, please email

8. Game Play: Forgotten Trail

Learn Fractions and statistics: Playable on Chromebook

If your students don’t have access to iPads, Mac or Windows computers and are using Chromebooks, they can play Forgotten Trail, which teaches this fraction standard, as well as standards for measurement and data. You can see the full list here. Recommended time: 15 minutes. Teachers in the Growing Math program receive licenses for Forgotten Trail for all of their students. If you need a license, please email

9. Next lesson: Adding fractions with like denominators

Once you have introduced fractions, the next step we recommend is adding and comparing fractions with a common denominator.


Assessment is built into the presentation as students are asked how they would write Long Foot’s portion of the buffalo as a fraction. There is a test of all of the fractions standards taught in Fish Lake here. It can be used as a pre- and post-test to show growth or at the end of a unit on fractions.

State Standards

Minnesota Math Standard – Understand that the size of a fractional part is relative to the size of the whole.