July 28, 2017
By Byron Delcomb

Lesson plan

Illustrating Mixed Number Sums with Tape Diagrams

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GradeSubjectView aligned standards

Students will be able to add unlike mixed numbers using tape diagrams.

(5 minutes)
  • Tell your kids that things are easier to do when they’re listed in a few easy-to-follow steps.
  • Have them think, pair, and share something they could describe in four, easy-to-follow steps. Walk around the room to listen in on student shares.
  • Share out to the class a few great examples you overheard and connect that today’s maths lesson. Draw a connection by telling your class that today’s maths lesson involves performing a task in four, easy-to-follow steps.
  • Review the associative property of addition involving mixed numbers with your class, (Aab + Bcd) = (A + B) + (ab + cd)And answer any clarifying questions.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell your students that they’ll be learning how to find mixed number sums using tape tape diagram solutions.
  • Display the Problems, Fractions, and Tape Diagrams worksheet and preview the four-step procedure.
(10 minutes)
  • Perform the first exercise with your students and answer any clarifying questions.
(15 minutes)
  • Have your class complete the remaining exercises.


  • Pull a small group of emerging students and include a stronger student as a teacher’s apprentice. Get the group going then check in on other students throughout independent work time. Check in repeatedly to be sure the group is on track.


  • Challenge advanced students to demonstrate the four-step procedure with subtraction.
  • Taking photographs of real-time solutions then uploading them into online documents for classroom discussion is a great resource for teachable moments.
(5 minutes)
  • Show your students a table showing the least common multiple for 9 and 3.
  • Have your students explain a possible expression and tape diagram solution.
(10 minutes)
  • Share out solutions with the whole class.
  • Discuss: What clues does a sum give us about its addends?

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