Objective: Students will be able to distinguish pieces of a whole, recognized through physical mass and expressed through fractions.
Vocabulary: fractions, whole, half, quarter, eighth
Time: 1 hour
What You Will Need: Model Magic Clay, Pencil, Markers, and a Fraction Worksheet (download PDF) Fraction Turtle
Preparing For The Project: This project is not meant to introduce fractions but to support the concepts you are already teaching. If you have not discussed fractions, it may be necessary to pre-teach the concepts. Print off a Fraction Turtle PDF for each student. Separate model magic for each of your students. Usually I separate one 2 ounce pouch for 5 students.
1. As you are passing out the clay, students can play and roll the clay around. If you are using model magic, the clay works better after it has been warmed by the students hands. If you chose another air dry clay, you may want the children to refrain from playing with it as it may dry out and crumble.
2. Have the students hold their clay up in the air. Right now they have one whole piece of clay. To the best of their ability, have students break their clay into 2 equal halves. and place their clay in the boxes labelled 1/2 on their worksheet. Check for understanding.
3. Have the students grab 1 half of their clay and hold it up in the air. Have them separate their clay into two equal parts. and move the pieces down to the boxes labelled 1/4. Now our clay is separated into one half and 2 quarters. Does this work? If we add it all up does it still make one whole? Repeat this step with the other half piece of clay. Now we have 4 quarters. Does this still equal one whole?
4. With each quarter, follow the same step. Move the clay down into the 1/8 box. As the students separate their clay, continue to ask questions for understanding (i.e. We have 2 eighths and 3 quarters, does this equal a whole?).
5. Once we have 8 eighths, we may begin creating our clay turtle. Ask the students to grab 2/8 clay and roll it into a sphere. If you would prefer not to paint your turtles later, model magic can be dyed using markers. Put out a few different shades of green. before students make their shapes, they can add color to their clay and mix it in. This is a great alternative to painting in your classroom.
6. Ask the students to flatten their sphere. I tell my students not to flatten their sphere like a pancake, but like a pebble. This is the body of their turtle. For understanding, you can ask the students how much clay is left on their fraction sheet. For advanced primary students, you can even ask them to simplify the the fraction.
7. Ask the students to grab one eighth of clay off of the worksheet and roll it into a sphere. This will be the head of the turtle. Without removing the clay from the table, add the head to the body of your turtle. How much clay, have we used so far? Can we simplify that fraction?
8. Ask the students to grab one eighth of the clay and tear it into two equal parts. We now have separated 1/8 into 2/16. Repeat this with another piece of clay. Your worksheet should look like this. We will be using all four pieces for the legs. Have the students roll the clay into cylinders. Attach the clay to the body of the turtle. Gently press with your fingers where the body and the leg meet, as to keep the legs from falling off when the clay has dried.
9. Using one-eighth clay, we are going to add details to our turtle. Start by ripping a small piece from your clay and form it into a cone. This can be added to the body as a tail. Taking two pieces of clay, students can roll them into spheres and flattened on the face for eyes. Students can take two smaller pieces and roll them into spheres for the pupils. Using the rest of that one-eighth piece of clay, students can create toenails for their turtles.
10. To finish our turtle, we must make a shell! Take the remaining two-eighths clay and roll the clay into a coil or “snake.” The goal in rolling a coil is to try to keep it even. As students roll their clay, they should be looking to see if they have wider and thinner areas along the length of their coil. If a student has a very thick area, they can focus on rolling that area more. If the clay is too thin in areas, they are pressing to firmly, and may need to start over. When each student has a coil, roll the coils up like a snail shell. First fold the first bit of clay over on itself like a hook, then roll the clay around it until the clay is gone.
11. The turtle shell can be added to the top of the turtle. Students should press gently to allow the clay to adhere to itself. To add pattern, students can poke dots in the middle of the clay with a pencil. 12. Using a pen cap, or the side of a spoon, you can help the students to add a smile under their eyes. Allow 24 hours to dry.
13. PAINT AND ENJOY! A great way to give these turtles a polished look is to spray them with a gloss varnish or to paint them with acrylic gloss medium.
Assessment: Students can display their turtles with decals or flags that show the fractions used to create their turtle.