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

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Learning outcomes

Students will demonstrate their knowledge of fractions as “parts of a whole” and of fractions in lowest terms.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 Hours


  • Fraction funnies worksheet: doc | rtf
  • plain paper
  • joke (riddle) books
  • crayons and/or markers (optional)
  • laminator (optional)
  • overhead markers (optional)


Students should have a working knowledge of fractions as “parts of a whole” and of fractions in lowest terms.


  1. Students should complete the worksheet (see attachment) either individually, in small groups, or as a whole group. (Note: the answer to the worksheet joke is “Because they’re shellfish.”) This activity should be used as a springboard for the main activity, which is to have students create clues leading to the answer of their own jokes (riddles) in a manner similar to the worksheet.
  2. Once the worksheet has been completed, the teacher should talk with the students about varying the clues (as done in the worksheet) so that they aren’t all “the first (fraction),” but rather include clues such as “the last (fraction)” and “the middle (fraction).” The teacher should also encourage students to make their clues more difficult by putting the fractions in lowest terms. As a class exercise it might be helpful to make up some sample clues. For example, if the word you’re looking for is WATER, then you could break it into two clues: “the last 3/4 of SWAT” and “the first 1/3 of ERRORS.” It may also be helpful for the students to think of other clues that could be used to get to the same answer, for example, “the first 1/2 of WADE” and “the last 1/2 of BATTER.” Then allow students to look through joke books to come up with a good joke to use; one with an answer that’s not too long or too short. You may want to specify a minimum/maximum number of words in the riddle’s answer.
  3. Once the students have chosen their jokes they can begin working on their own clues. Again, this could be done individually, in pairs, or in small groups. It works best to have students work out their clues on scratch paper and later transfer their completed work onto clean paper. Encourage students to make their final copies as neat as possible. They might even want to include illustrations.
  4. As an optional follow-up activity, students can solve each others’ jokes. This can be done either by having students write the answers on another sheet of paper or by laminating the papers and having students use overhead markers to write on (and then wipe off) their answers.


Before beginning work, students should be made aware of the criteria the teacher will use in assessing their work. Depending on the ability level of the students, teachers may want to require at least one “the first (fraction),” “the last (fraction),” the middle (fraction),” and so on. The teacher can solve each student’s riddle clues to assess the student’s knowledge.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 3

        • 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 4

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will read, write, model, and compute with non-negative rational numbers.
    • Objective 1.03: Solve problems using models, diagrams, and reasoning about fractions and relationships among fractions involving halves, fourths, eighths, thirds, sixths, twelfths, fifths, tenths, hundredths, and mixed numbers.