K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

The children will be able to identify fractional parts of a whole and a mixed number using paper plates.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 hours


  • very thin, flat paper plates
  • scissors
  • paper and pencil
  • chalk & blackboard
  • overhead projector (optional-can be used instead of blackboard)
  • Optional--fraction worksheet from the third grade Silver Burdett Ginn book (I used the P11-1 worksheet found on page 403 of Volume 2 and also used P11-7 on page 415.)


Use blackboard (or overhead projector) to show circles and rectangles as one or two or more whole numbers. Then divide one whole into 2 equal parts, 3 equal parts, 4 equal parts, etc. Discuss different combinations of more than 1 circle with parts of another circle.


  1. After pre-activities, distribute scissors, crayons, and paper plates to each student. Demonstrate and have each student fold paper plate into two equal parts.
  2. Cut the plate into two parts. Have them discuss, pull apart and put together to demonstrate the whole and the two parts making up the whole.
  3. Demonstrate and have students fold each half into two equal parts. Have them cut on the fold and cut into four parts. Again, discuss the whole and the parts, manipulating the pieces to show the whole and then the parts.
  4. Form small groups and give the children whole paper plates with their plates that they have cut into parts. Have children manipulate the plates and parts to show different mixed numbers to show the other groups. Write the fractions and mixed numbers on board as each group comes to front and demonstrates their fraction or mixed number.


Teacher will observe and ask questions of each group to see if they can show a fractional part and a mixed number with their paper plates. Have students complete a worksheet to see if they can recognize fractional parts and mixed numbers. You can use the worksheet described above or use another that requires students to recognize both simple and mixed fractions.

Supplemental information

Be sure to demonstrate how to fold the plate so that the parts are equal. When you form a group, it helps to designate one child to record the fractions and mixed numbers, one to be spokesman, one to manipulate the paper plates, etc.


Squares and rectangles are the most common shapes to demonstrate fractions, so I wanted to use the circle as well.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 2

        • Geometry
          • 2.G.3 Partition circles and rectangles into two, three, or four equal shares, describe the shares using the words halves, thirds, half of, a third of, etc., and describe the whole as two halves, three thirds, four fourths. Recognize that equal shares of identical...
        • Grade 3

          • 3.G.2Partition shapes into parts with equal areas. Express the area of each part as a unit fraction of the whole. For example, partition a shape into 4 parts with equal area, and describe the area of each part as 1/4 of the area of the shape.
        • Number & Operations—Fractions
          • 3.NOF.1Understand a fraction 1/b as the quantity formed by 1 part when a whole is partitioned into b equal parts; understand a fraction a/b as the quantity formed by a parts of size 1/b.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 3

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will model, identify, and compute with whole numbers through 9,999.
    • Objective 1.05: Use area or region models and set models of fractions to explore part-whole relationships.
      • Represent fractions concretely and symbolically (halves, fourths, thirds, sixths, eighths).
      • Compare and order fractions (halves, fourths, thirds, sixths, eighths) using models and benchmark numbers (zero, one-half, one); describe comparisons.
      • Model and describe common equivalents, especially relationships among halves, fourths, and eighths, and thirds and sixths.
      • Understand that the fractional relationships that occur between zero and one also occur between every two consecutive whole numbers.
      • Understand and use mixed numbers and their equivalent fraction forms.