How Fractions Work

What are fractions?

Fractions are pieces of things. If you have a cake:

Spaceship cake 1 piece

If you divide it into 2 pieces that are the same size, then each piece is 1/2 of a cake:

Spaceship cake 2 pieces

If you divide the cake into 3 pieces instead, each piece is 1/3 of a cake:

Spaceship cake 3 pieces

When you work with fractions, you’ll need to learn how to reduce fractions, add them, subtract them, multiply them, and divide them.

Reducing Fractions

After adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing with fractions, you may need to reduce the fraction.  For example, let’s say you have a cake:

Planet cake, tall

The cake is cut into 4 pieces:

Planet cake, 4 pieces 2 4ths, tall

If you have 2 of those pieces, you have 2/4 of a cake (circled in yellow):

Planet cake, 4 pieces 2 4ths select 1 2, tall

When you look at this, you can see that 2/4 of the cake is also half (1/2) of the cake.

You might think, sure that example’s easy, but what if I have a tougher fraction to deal with? You can do it! You want to find a number that evenly divides into the top and the bottom part of the fraction. If you feel stuck, if both of the numbers in the fraction are even numbers, try dividing both by 2.

2/4 = (2/2)/(4/2) = 1/2 if you have a cake cut into 4 pieces
5/25 = 1/5
5/20 = 1/4