Make some paper plate pizza fractions to learn about fraction facts in a fun, visual and hands on way that kids can really understand! Perfect for school aged kids to use both as a classroom maths learning activity and home learning fun too.
As this blog grows with the ages of my kids, now 9, 8, 6 and 3, I like to include some of the ways that I’ve tried to help my older kids to reinforce some of their school learning objectives at home. [Such as this paper cup place value game for starters!] I know lots of you have read along with me over the years so probably have children of similar ages to mine, so I hope these are helpful!
When I was at school I can still remember the lessons I had about equivalent fractions and addition, subtraction and division of fractions too. It was all on paper with nothing physical in front of us to help us visualise what we were trying to do, and the whole concept was so completely remote and alien to me. I now understand that I am a very visual, kinaesthetic learner (as indeed most children are) and if on;y I”d have had something to touch and move around I might have found this stage of maths learning a whole lot more fun and quick to grasp!
So when my 9 and 8 year old started learning about fractions at school I decided we needed to make our own resources at home so that they could visualise what they were learning easily. And these paper plate pizza fractions have been a real success!
So easy and cheap to make and useful for every type of fractions learning problem possible- whoop!
Watch our Paper Plate Pizza Fractions Video here! [and please hop on over to follow my brand new YouTube channel too!]
First decide how many different fractions you want to make. We made: 1 whole, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4. 1/5, 1/6. 1/7, 1/8, 1/9, 1/10 and 1/16. I am going to add 1/12 to our set soon as I realised we should have had this for equivalancies, but you could add as many as you wish extra to this too. These seemed plenty for our requirements so far.
In total this required 11 paper plates. Paint the plates with a light yellow wash and then sponge some red paint over the top. Next use a small piece of cardboard on its side dipped into yellow paint to print cheese over the base, then dip a cork in brown paint for the pepperoni over the top! Get your kids to decorate them as a bonus art activity 🙂
This next part is the most tricky but it’s really worth being as careful as possible to get it accurate, or else the activities won’t work well. Start with the simple fractions, eg 1 whole, 1/2, 1/4 etc which are possible to eye up and cut fairly easily. Then use some of those to measure up others eg use 1/4 to work out 1/8 (each slice being exactly half size) etc. For the odd numbered fractions 1/7 for eg, you may need to use a protractor or, as I did, google an image of “1/7ths in a circle” and use that to measure and cut!
Once made, write the correct fraction onto each piece quickly before they get mixed up!
To introduce the paper plate pizza fractions to the kids I actually mixed them all onto a tray and told them we were eating fraction pizzas but they’d all been muddled up! I challenged them to build each “pizza puzzle” by finding the correct number of slices to complete each whole. “How many pieces do you think the 1/4 pizza is cut in to?” for example, getting them to look at the numbers and realise that the number correlated to how many times it was sliced.
Once they’d completed all of the wholes and we had talked about how all of those pieces made up each one, we then moved on to how those can be split up, taken away or added together, just like any other numbers.
Dividing a whole by two was a good first demonstration! You could repeat this all the way through by saying “yes one whole divided by two is 1/2, so let’s now find 1/2 divided by 2…yes 1/4! Now 1/4 divided by 2” etc. Because all of the pieces are in front of them they can visually test out which ones work and can see for themselves quickly, self-correcting if they need to as well.
These paper plate fraction pizzas are REALLY fabulous for fraction addition and subtraction as again, by touching and moving the pieces they can find out the answer for themselves and problem solve when it doesn’t quite work.
You have to plan ahead with the addition cards to make sure they will work out, but start by finding as many ways to make a whole as possible and start the kids off working out the answers to this!
By far the most effective use of these paper plate pizza fractions is the wonderfully visual understanding of finding and making equivalent fractions.
And this is also why it’s so important to make as many sets as possible to try out many different combinations.
I loved watching mine have some lightbulb moments when they realised that 2/4 is the same as 1/2 for eg, realising that it’s easier to use the bigger of those numbers in the problems, ie finding the lowest common denominator without even realising they had.
I gave them a word card saying “equivalent” and set them off to see how many equivalencies they could find, which was a fun and open-ended task for them to explore and challenge themselves with.
We have only just scratched the surface of ways to play and learn with these paper plate pizza fractions at home and I am keen to make a set for both of their classrooms in Year 3 and Year 4 as I think they could be so helpful, especially for those kids who need a bigger kinaesthetic input like I did.
If you would like more learning ideas and hands on resources for older children please do comment and let me know!
Meanwhile I have LOTS of maths play and learning ideas here in the MATHS ACTIVITIES archives to get you started.
And check out a whole MATHS INVESTIGATION AREA I made for them to practise maths skills in open-ended ways!