My 2-3rd graders really love fractions. We make fraction kits, play fraction games, and do a lot of hands-on activities. I really like to challenge them and they seem to rise to the occasion. I gave my class a worksheet out of an middle school workbook, just to see what would happen. The worksheet had about 20 improper fractions that they needed to change to mixed numbers.

One group had out whiteboards and were drawing out each one. Others were using abacuses/abbacies (sp?) to make groups of wholes. One little second grader got out a set of multiplication beads. I wondered what she was going to do with them. Here is a picture –

I watched for a bit, and then I asked her how she was using them. She looked at the 29/6 problem and explained that she was using them as little fraction sets. And that the purple ones each have six beads on them. So she can use them to see how many wholes when she counted by six. She saw her mistake and made the correction. Word spread, and soon all my sets of multiplication beads were spread around the classroom. So fun!