Fractions are difficult to learn and I know just memorizing the formulas for adding and subtracting unlike fractions and so on are easily forgotten and not always understood. Manipulative like the fraction bars used in a previous few activities certainly help in understanding. But I quickly saw we needed a longer period working with manipulatives. So, out came my pattern blocks. We started using physical pattern blocks and then moved to the Pattern Block app where we could show our work and thinking.
The basic shapes are common and most knew them. They consist of 6 shapes and the children visually started seeing relationships, equivalence, adding unlike fractions quickly. Soon they wanted to write the fraction sentences. I was able to introduce vocabulary terms & pointed out that we were already adding unlike fractions which was tricky before the algorithms were taught. As the children became more proficient, I would write a fraction and have them create the fraction with the blocks ( 2/3, 2/6, 1/3 etc.) Soon this became too easy so, I started adding improper fractions like 5/3 to see what they came up with using the blocks. They caught on very fast and loved the game!
When we return from break we will be learning how to add, subtract, divide and multiply with pattern blocks!