# Outdoor Maths: Using sticks to understand fractions

11 June 2011 · 5 comments

A very simple outdoor challenge for children to try, is to find a thin stick, break it into a number of pieces, e.g. four and put it back together correctly. This is a nature jigsaw. It’s much harder than it sounds. A similar activity can happen with leaves.

Recently, I saw this challenge taken a step further. The teacher decided her class needed more practice and understanding about how fractions are part of a whole. The children had to work in groups to create a fraction wall.

This turned into quite a problem solving activity. Firstly, sticks had to be found of similar lengths. Otherwise the fractions were not equal on every line…

The next tricky bit was remembering to put the sticks close together rather than spread them out as in the above photo. There had to be one whole stick, two half sticks, a stick broken into thirds, then a stick in quarters, etc.

he groups tended to work as a team, with one or two members finding and fetching sticks and others working on the structure of the fraction wall.

The end result looked good for many groups…

So the moral of this activity is, if you are stuck on your fractions, try using sticks to consolidate the knowledge and understanding! Yet another use for this wonderful natural resource.

Update: please enjoy this wonderful fractions video from Middleton Park Primary School

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wondersofnature June 12, 2011 at 12:33

Great idea-I’m going to use this with my daughter who is really struggling to visualise her fractions.

Thanks