Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Fractions in Clay

Rose Keasey


Engage students in clay-play with a purpose. Students use modeling clay to represent fractions. They create sets of objects as directed by task cards.


The student represents, compares, and explains halves, thirds, quarters, and eighths as part of a whole and part of a set, using concrete materials and drawings.


-1 stick of modeling clay for each student
-Task cards (see associated file)


1. Make task cards from Associated File on index cards. Laminate if desired.
2. Get clay for each student.
3. Print on the chalkboard: 3/4 of the balls are flat.


This lesson only meets part of the standardís requirements. The students will represent and explain halves, thirds, fourths and eighths as part of a set. They will not compare fractions.

1. Print on the chalkboard: ĺ of the balls are flat.

2. Explain that the phrase describes a picture. The picture will contain balls and some of the balls will not have air in them. The fraction that begins the phrase tells us how many round balls to draw and how many flat balls to draw. One way to read the fraction is--three out of four.

3. Ask a student to read the phrase using three out of four for the fraction.

4. Ask a student to explain what should be in a picture that shows three out of four of the balls are flat.

5. Have that student come to the board and draw the correct picture. Give oral feedback.

6. Print on the chalkboard: 2/5 of the hats are large.

7. Draw two large hats and five small hats on the chalkboard. (Non-example)

8. Ask: Have I drawn the phrase correctly? Why? How can I correct my picture?

9. Erase the extra small hats.

10. Ask: Have I drawn it correctly this time? How do you know?

11. Say: Today you will be using clay to make models of fraction phrases. You will each get a task card. All of the cards are different so your creation will be different from your neighborís. Read the card and make what it says from clay. As I give you the first card I want you to tell me what you plan to make. For example, if your task card says 2/8 of the hats are small, you say: Iíll make eight hats and two will be small. I will walk around and watch you work. When you are finished, let me see what you have done. If you have modeled the phrase correctly, you may trade your card for a different task card and model a different fraction phrase.

12. Distribute task cards. Help with reading if necessary.

13. As you distribute task cards, ask individual students to explain what they plan to make.

14. Distribute clay to students who can describe what they plan to do from the card.

15. Circulate while students work. Check comprehension

16. When students finish sculpting, verify the accuracy of their response. Ask the child to explain his/her sculpture. Give oral formative feedback.

17. A successful student represents a group of objects from clay that contains the total number of objects as specified by the denominator and modifies part of their objects (in the manner indicated on the task card), as specified by the numerator.

18. Students that sculpt two groups of objects to correspond to both the number represented in the numerator and the denominator, need guidance to represent the true fraction.


This lesson instructs and assesses on physically representing fractions as part of a set only.

Teacher observation is used to assess students for representing fractions specified on a task card using modeling clay.
Student should accurately represent the fraction on 80% of his/her attempts.


1. Pair good readers with non-readers to decode the task cards.
2. Create a set of pictures showing fraction phrases like the task cards. Ask students to generate the fraction phrase to describe the picture.
3. Make a set of cards to play a concentration game. Half of the cards have pictures of fraction phrases, the other half have the phrases.

Attached Files

A list of fraction phrases that can be made into task cards.     File Extension: pdf

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