Still looking for a fun 3rd grade math Valentine’s Day activity? Check out this easy fraction lesson idea on understanding and comparing fractions with Skittles. f
We are learning about fractions this month and my students are struggling. I have pulled out the manipulatives, charts, and number lines but they seem more concerned with Valentine’s day and all the sweet treats to come.
Instead of battling with them and constantly looking at blank stares, I decided to create something that would motivate them. I bought a bag of individually wrapped Skittles and pinpointed my area of concern from their recent exit tickets.
You can view the Valentine’s Day Comparing Fractions Math Activity here.
Supplies Needed for 3rd Grade Math Valentine’s Day Activity
You can buy the fun size or one-party size bag . I prefer the party size bag because it’s a better deal and you can control the size of each group. The fun size bags had anywhere from 13-15 skittles in each bag. If you pass them out yourself, you can make the denominator the same for everyone and keep the group size to 8 or 10.
Engaging 3rd Grade Math Valentine’s Day Activity
After thinking it over, I decided to use Skittles to create fractions that students could compare. My students struggled to choose which strategy to use and were not focused on the size of the fractional part but just looking for the biggest number.
I used the gradual release model to help students have success with the lesson. First, I showed them how to create fractions for a few of the different colors.
Then I compared the fractions for different colors with the same denominators and different numerators.
Next, I explained my strategy for comparing fractions with the same numerator and different denominators.
After I shared my thinking for a few colors, I finished the rest of the colors by repeating the previous step but with student input. I called on students to name the fraction or tell me the correct comparison symbol.
I gave them opportunities to explain their thinking and reasoning to a friend so they had time to practice and hear different explanations.
Then I released it to the students for them to work on independently. Each student had their own personal packet of Skittles and lesson papers. They worked at their own pace.
I did make a rule that they couldn’t eat the Skittles until they finished part one which included writing the fractions and drawing the model or number line for each color. That rule worked wonders in getting them started and moving to the meat of the lesson quickly.
3rd Grade Valentine’s Day Lesson
- First, ask students to identify the fraction for each color Skittle (red, purple, yellow, orange, green).
- Then, ask students to draw a number line or model to represent each fraction.
- Next, tell students to compare the different colors using the greater than, equal to and less than symbols.
- Finally, ask students to pick a color and create their own fraction with the same numerator and a different denominator to compare with each color.
- Also, challenge students to choose one pair of fractions from each comparing activity to explain they know which fraction is greater.
3rd Grade Valentine’s Day Activity that Reveals Misconceptions
The Valentine’s Day activity revealed several misconceptions or wrong thinking my students had about comparing fractions. The open ended questions that asked students to explain how they knew which fraction was greater provided so much insight. So many students said the fractions with the larger numerator were the greater fractions because they didn’t connect or truly understand the role of the denominator versus the numerator. I now know who to pull for centers next week and how to start a conversation with them specific to their thinking and understanding.
Additional 3rd Grade Math Valentine’s Day Activities
Maybe you don’t teach 3rd grade or your students are rocking it with fractions. There are still tons of fun, engaging and purposeful activities you can use for your Valentine’s Day celebration.
Check out the list below for ideas:
Kahoot– Free website great for learning games and reviews. Simply type in the topic you would like your students to work on and choose something from the list that pops up.
Print off the “You are Capable of Amazing Things” sheet.
Give students crayons and construction paper to make cards while students pass out Valentine’s Day treats. Keep their little hands busy with something fun so they you have less behaviors to manage.
I like to save this for the last 15 to 30 minutes of the day.
Students can add a letter inside the card or give to a friend or family member on it’s on.
Last year, I let a few students secretly tape their completed coloring sheets on their previous teacher’s classroom door as a sweet surprise. They LOVED the idea, and it motivated them to finish their sheet quickly.
So much fun and better than a mindless coloring sheet. Don’t get caught during your informal or “surprise” visit doing something that doesn’t align to your curriculum guide and standards.
You can purchase the Valentine’s Day Comparing Fractions Math Activity here.
Leave a comment below and let me know what Valentine’s Day Math Activity you have planned for your class?
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