When it comes to teaching difficult concepts such as decimals and fractions, the more hands-on activities the students have the better. It’s so important for students to see various models of these concepts in order to truly understand them. Tangrams and pattern blocks are extremely useful manipulative for teaching fractional relationships. However, my favorite materials for teaching equivalent decimals and fractions are meter sticks and base-ten blocks.
I really love this activity because it hits on so many concepts at once. Not only are students making the connections between equivalent decimals and fractions, but they are also learning decimal place value and metric measurement.
The free printables below that have a step-by-step lesson for using these powerful manipulatives in your classroom! Just click on the image below to download.
Ideally, you will want one meter stick, 10 base-ten rods, and 10 base-ten cubes for a pair of students. However, you can also have a group of three or four share the materials if you are unable to obtain enough resources. Students will construct the models from the above printable. Then they will make their own models.
I don’t have to tell you, but teaching place value is TOUGH! Take your time and really let your students grapple with as many hands-on models as possible. When students develop a conceptual understanding of place, subsequent math concepts (e.g. multiplying and dividing decimals and fractions) are so much easier to teach.
You might also be interested in my Time to Tile: Equivalent Decimals and Fractions resource for another great hands-on activity related to this topic.