Waldorf Fourth Grade and Fractions

Fourth Grade and Fractions

After a burgeoning awareness in first and second grade where the child tends to be flying in a dreamier world, and a somewhat uncomfortable landing in third grade, the fourth grader has finally landed on Earth and exclaims, “Here I am!”  There is a great awareness of being separate from others now and for this reason we begin breaking apart the whole numbers we’ve been studying in previous grades and take a look at fractions.  

On the first day of our Fractions Block a story was brought to the children about two dwarves, Numy (Numerator) and Denomy (Denominator), who found a whole loaf of bread and a whole apple.  (A real, whole apple and loaf of bread were part of the stories and I cut and shared them along with the story.)  After some silly antics the dwarves decided to share them.  Denomy would cut each in half and Numy would pick which half.  Well, then two squirrels came.  So, Denomy cut each half again and now had fourths.  Then, just as the four were about to partake of their pieces, 4 birds flew in and wanted to try it too.  Oh, you can imagine the exasperation of Denomy, and the laughter of the fourth grade children, as he cut each fourth again and now had eighths!  

Well, the same thing happened the next day, but now Denomy had to cut the bread into thirds (because Mole happened to be over that morning already), and then three squirrels scampered over to share as well and the pieces were cut into sixths!

In following days we cut out all of these fractions from circles and rectangles using paper.  We also drew the apple and loaf of bread as each of these fractions into our Main Lesson Books.  

In our movement work we also walked each of these fractions, and others, forward and backward.  For example, we counted one fraction for each step forward: “one sixth, two sixths, three sixths, four sixths, five sixths, one (whole)” and then the same for each step backwards:  “one (whole), five sixths, four sixths, three sixths, two sixths, one sixth.”  

Then we wrote it out each time in our graph books as well.  

By the middle of our Fractions Block, using the fractions we had cut out, pictures on the chalkboard, and more silly stories of Numy and Denomy, we learned how to add and subtract fractions with denominators (both like and unlike), and then also compared fractions.  

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