Up and down


Ages 8 to 11

Do you find that teaching - or even using the vocabulary of - fractions can be fraught with hazards?

Try twisting your tongue around "thirteen fifteenths!", "three sixths!", "six sevenths!"

Do you get numerator and denominator mixed up and the wrong way around? Children do this all the time. Yet their positions can be easy to remember - simply say each key word aloud while simultaneously pointing to them.

Use mnemonics: "Nice Doggy", "Notre Dame", "Numerator Up, Denominator Down".

My favourite is an activity involving building bricks with enough letters to make both words. These are used to build a two-word tower. The children know a tower should reduce in size as it rises. They will soon discover the obvious: NUMERATOR goes above, DENOMINATOR goes below.

Alternatively, make it a class activity using drag and drop letters on an interactive whiteboard. You could also make this into a wall display with brightly painted bricks Richard Coles teaches maths at Fyndoune Community College in Sacriston, County Durham

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