Playdough Fractions

Primary (Age 6 – 9)

Curriculum Goal

Primary: Number Sense

  • Use drawings to represent, solve, and compare the results of fair-share problems that involve sharing up to 10 items among two, three, four and six sharers, including problems that result in whole numbers, mixed numbers, and fractional amounts.


  • Whole-class book reading and demonstration, followed by individual exploratory activity.


  • Playdough: one fist-sized lump for each child and teacher
  • Playdough cutters (or butter knives)
  • Chart paper and markers
  • Blank paper: one for each child and teacher
  • Pencils
  • Book: Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice by Marilyn Sadler and Eric Comstock (Recorded reading available on YouTube)


  • Read Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice.
  • Discuss: “What is a fraction?” Record students’ ideas on chart paper and leave it visible for when they work.
  • Roll playdough into a circle and demonstrate the process of splitting the “whole” circle into smaller parts. Place the parts on a mat that explicitly states the fractional names (“halves”, “1/2”). Leave this visible as the children work.
    • Meanwhile, have students carefully observe and describe what is happening (ensure the use of fractional names).
  • Have students create pizza-shaped flat circles from playdough.
  • Ask students to divide their “whole” into two equal halves and place their results on the piece of paper. Invite them to label it with the correct fractional name.
    • Repeat with other fractions, based on how well students are understanding fractions.
  • Present questions to extend student thinking. Sample questions:
    • What fraction is bigger, a half or a quarter?
    • How many quarters will make a whole?
    • How many parts are there when you divide your whole piece of playdough in half?
    • What happens when you take one piece away from the fraction? How many pieces have you taken away and how many pieces do you have left?
  • Facilitate a discussion on regrouping fraction parts into a whole. Have students put their pieces back together to create a whole circle again.

Look Fors

  • Are children able to provide the associated fractional name to their outcome?
  • Can children regroup fractional parts back into the whole?
  • Can children compare fractions? (e.g. Do children understand that one half is the same as two fourths?)

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