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Fractions in Year 1 (age 5–6)

In Year 1, your child will learn that fractions are about sharing. They will think about fractions as a part of one object or as part of a group of objects, focusing on halves and quarters.

What your child will learn

Take a look at the National Curriculum expectations for fractions in Year 1 (age 5–6):

Recognise a half as 1 of 2 equal parts of something

Your child will begin to think about halving as sharing equally into two parts or groups.

First, they will try halving a shape or object into two equal parts (for example, finding half of a pizza). Then, they will learn to find half of a group of objects (for example, finding that half of 4 pizzas is 2 pizzas). They will do this by sharing the total number of objects equally between two groups, one object at a time.

Your child will also learn to halve lengths – for example, finding half the length of an 8cm ribbon.

Recognise a quarter as 1 of 4 equal parts of something

Your child will begin to understand finding a quarter as sharing into four equal parts or groups.

First, your child will learn to find a quarter of a shape or object by splitting it into four equal parts (for example, finding a quarter of a cake). They will find a quarter by finding half and then finding half again. They will also learn to find a quarter of a quantity of objects. They will do this by sharing the total quantity of objects equally between four groups, one object at a time.

Your child will learn to find a quarter of a length (for example, finding a quarter of the length of a ribbon that measures 8cm). They could do this by first halving 8cm to get 4cm, and then halving again to get 2cm.

Your child will begin to understand the connection between fractions and division – for example, they will know that finding a half is the same as dividing by 2 and finding a quarter is the same as dividing by 4.

How to help at home

There are lots of everyday ways you can help your child to understand fractions. Here are just a few ideas.

1. Fractions and food

Food always provides a fun (and tasty) opportunity to explore fractions!

When cutting a sandwich, show your child how you can cut a whole sandwich into two equal parts, and explain that we call each part a half. Point out that we could put the two halves together again to make the whole. Try halving in different ways, such as cutting a whole sandwich into two equal rectangles or triangles.

Why not show your child that we can find the quarters of a sandwich by first cutting it in half and then cutting those pieces in half again? Ask your child to find one of the equal parts and explain that this is one quarter. Try finding quarters in different ways, such as cutting a whole sandwich into four equal rectangles or triangles.

2. Use toys

Learn about fractions using some of your child’s favourite toys – little figures, blocks, teddies, cars, you name it.

Gather together a collection of toys. Show your child how to halve quantities by asking them to split their collection of toys into two equal groups. So, if they have ten cars, they can split them into two groups of five.

You could also show them how to find one quarter of quantities by splitting their toys into four equal groups.

3. Drawing shapes

Grab some paper and colouring pencils. Draw a circle, square, rectangle, and equal-sided triangle and ask them to find and colour in one half. Next, draw another shape and ask your child to colour in one quarter.

4. Fractions all around us

Point out the fractions all around you – such as when you are in the shops (for example, 1/2 price offers) or in recipes (1/4 tablespoon) and so on. Talk about what the different numbers mean.