Hands-On Fraction Activities for 2nd Grade

Teaching the foundations of fractions is a key concept in 2nd grade. Fractions are a part of everyday life in the real world and will be built upon in 3rd and 4th grade and beyond. Depending on where you teach, your state standards for teaching fractions may vary. With these hands-on fraction activities, your students will have a blast learning about fractions.

play dough fraction activity

How To Introduce Fractions

My favorite way to introduce a new math concept like fractions is with a whole group anchor chart. Anchor charts are meant to be created together with your students. This helps them learn about the concept, see visual representations, and learn mathematical vocabulary.

I recommend creating a whole group version of an anchor chart together as a class. This anchor chart can be displayed in your classroom during the entire fraction math unit. 

Fraction anchor chart

You can prep the whole group anchor chart ahead of time by writing the title and drawing the columns and boxes. Any information, mathematical vocabulary, and models should be added together as your students are participating.

After creating the whole group version, students can create a mini-version to include in their interactive math notebook. This helps build deeper understanding and serves as a great tool for students to reference all year long. 

Fraction interactive notebook activity

After you’ve introduced the concept of fractions using the whole group and student version of the anchor chart, then you’re ready to dive into your fraction lessons and hands-on fraction activities. 

Today, I’m going to share some simple ideas for practicing fractions that can all be used for both whole group and small group instruction. 

Equal and Unequal Parts

At the beginning of your 2nd grade fraction unit, it’s important to teach students about equal and unequal parts. You can do this with a simple, yet effective hands-on sorting activity. 

I like to print different fraction cards that show both equal and unequal parts on sticky notes. This makes it super easy to pass out the sticky notes and have students decide whether their fraction sticky note shows equal or unequal parts. 

Students will then stick their fraction note on the correct side of an anchor chart or whiteboard chart. 

Fraction equal and unequal parts sorting activity

Shading Fractions

Another effective, hands-on fraction activity is to have students read a fraction name and shade the corresponding fraction in a fraction flipbook. They can keep this flipbook for reference during the entire math unit. 

Fraction Flipbook

This Fraction Flipbook is also helpful as students complete other fraction activities, such as this interactive notebook Shading Fractions activity

Shading fractions interactive notebook activity

Pick the Fraction

Pick the Fraction is the perfect follow-up activity to the Fraction Flipbook and Shading Fractions activities. Students will practice the concept of identifying and modeling fractional parts as well as writing fractions in word form in a hands-on way with basic linking cubes. 

This activity can be used in either a small group or whole group setting. All students will need is a set of 2 different colors of linking cubes, like red and blue. Each student will need a cup or tub of the 2 colors of cubes.They will also need those same 2 colors of markers or colored pencils. 

You can either call out a number of cubes for students to choose or have them follow the instructions on a recording sheet. They will choose that many cubes at random. They will draw the fraction they chose.

For example, if they chose 2 red and 2 blue cubes, they’ll draw 2 red dots and 2 blue dots. Ask students how many cubes are red. For example, in this case, two-fourths of the cubes are red, so students would write, two-fourths.  

Pick the fraction activity

Play Dough Fractions

When teaching your fraction unit, it’s important to include various dividing fractions activities for students to practice with. One of my favorites is called Play Dough Fractions. This activity can be done in a whole group, small group, or in partners. 

Give each student or pair of students 1 can of play dough and a tool to help them partition the play dough into fractions. This could be a basic play dough tool, a plastic knife, or another similar tool. 

Students will form various shapes out of the play dough. If you would like, you can even give them pre-made cookie cutters to make various shapes out of their play dough. Students can use the play dough lid to create circles.

After creating their shapes, students will use their tool to divide (partition) them. Students can practice partitioning the shapes into various equal parts. 

I like to use these play dough shapes task strips for students to read, create, and partition the fraction from. If doing this activity in a whole group, I would give everyone the same shape task to complete. If doing this in a small group or partners, I would give them all a different shape task to make. 

This is a great activity to encourage mathematical conversations about fractions and the size of their parts. You can discuss and model how the more parts a fraction has, the smaller they’ll be. Similarly, the less parts a fraction has, the larger they’ll be. 

play dough fractions

Folding Fractions

Folding fractions is another great hands-on fraction activity for practicing dividing fractions and putting them back together. Plus, it’s super simple! All you need are basic pieces of paper and pencils. 

Cut out simple shapes from the paper, such as rectangles, squares, and circles. Give students one of each shape and have them cut the shapes out. Fold one shape in half, another in fourths, and another in thirds or eighths, depending on your state’s standards.

Model how to fold each shape and open it back up so they can see the folded lines. This helps students see visually how the shape is divided. Next, have students use their pencil to trace over the folded lines to see even clearer how the shape is divided. 

Then, students will cut the fractions apart and put them back together, like a puzzle. You can have students mix up the pieces and put them back together several times to practice.

They can also tape or glue the pieces back together on colored paper and label each part. This is an effective and simple way to practice multiple fractional concepts in one activity. 

folding fractions activity

Fractional Parts

A key concept when teaching fractions in 2nd grade is fractional parts. Students need to understand that even though two shapes may be the exact same shape and size, their fractional parts may be different depending on how they are partitioned.

For example a rectangle divided into fourths will have smaller fractional parts than the same-sized rectangle that is divided into halves. 

2nd Grade Fractions PowerPoint

This concept can be confusing as the larger the number of parts, such as eighths, the smaller the fractional parts. 

Using a whole group PowerPoint and class game is a great way to help break down this concept and give students more practice and repetition.

They can then apply this knowledge with a small group writing activity. Students will look at two identical shapes that are divided into different fractions. Then they will write to tell which fraction has smaller parts along with an explanation of how they determined the answer. 

Going Beyond One Whole

Fraction activities that introduce students to the concept of fractions beyond one whole are very important in 2nd grade. After introducing this concept and completing an interactive notebook activity, reinforce the concept using this hands-on small group fraction game. Students will practice drawing fractions beyond one whole using number cards.

I hope these hands-on fraction activities for 2nd grade have given you new and simple ideas for how to introduce and teach fractional concepts to your students. 

To see some of these fraction activities in action, check out my Fraction Activities YouTube video to learn more about using these activities with your students. 

You can find all of these fraction activities in my 2nd Grade Fractions Guided Math Unit

If you are looking for fraction activities for 3rd grade, be sure to check out my 3rd Grade Fraction Activities on a Number Line Guided Math Unit

Need another fun way to practice fractions with your students? Check out my Fraction Gumball Math Craft here!

Want to save these strategies for later? Pin the image below!

Play dough fractions
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