We started one of the most stressful topics this week. We are adding and subtracting fractions. We came back from winter break and these kids looked like they were going to cry when I said we were tackling fractions. The truth is- if you know your multiplication facts, you’ll be fine! I hope to give you some ideas for your adding and subtracting fractions.

Add & Subtract Fractions Tip #1

A lot of time the fractions are completely next to each other. Instead of them being next to each other- place the fraction on top of one another. I teach my students to set up the “board”. That is the first thing I have them do. Yes- they have to rewrite the fraction but let me tell you…it becomes a game changer when they line them up correctly. The picture below shows you exactly how I set up the board. 

I start off by displaying the fractions on top of each other. I don’t let them adjust them or change the order because when they have to subtract- they will get negative numbers. Next, we put the multiplication sign, the fraction bar, the equal sign, and then the final fraction bar. I usually like to put a line under the final pieces so I can keep track of what was added or subtracted. Also, if you like to provide visual models for your students, check out the these hands on stackable fractions that also may help you!

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Add & Subtract Fractions Tip #2

Let them use a multiplication chart. I know…sounds SUPER easy. Probably is. I know a lot of teachers don’t like that their kids to use multiplication charts…however, are you testing the skill to multiply OR testing the skill of adding and subtracting fractions? Obviously the unit will be to add & subtract fractions, therefore, it would be easier on YOU and the student if you allow them to use a multiplication chart. Just remember to ask yourself- what is the strategy that you are teaching/using? 

Besides…after a while of using the multiplication chart- the multiplication factors should eventually click…right?? #fingerscrossed

We all know that fractions can be a little tricky. But don't worry, we're here to help! This post will give you some tips and tricks for adding and subtracting fractions. With a little practice, you'll be a fraction master in no time!

Tip #3 for adding and subtracting fractions

When you need to add or subtract fractions- keep it clean! Seriously. Have the students use lined paper if they are not a clean writer. I have kids who can write one number on like 4 lines. They are so messy. I ended up getting modified paper for them. I made sure that the students had paper that would fit their needs. For one of my students, I gave him ten blank “boards” (see tip 1) on a paper. Another student could only use lined paper. Another student used grid paper. Look at how your students write and make the simple modification for them.

In case you didn’t see my division tips & tricks- be sure to check it out here


Do you feel like you are struggling teaching multiplying fractions during your math block? Maybe you need small group materials or math curriculum but you don’t have the time to prep them. This Guided Math Multiplying Fractions Unit allows you to support your students without all the planning and prepping.

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