Lesson plan

Using Tape Models to Compare Like Fractions

Teach your students to compare fractions using symbols ( >, < = ) in three easy steps. Using this lesson plan, your class will compare like fractions using tape diagrams.
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Students will be able to illustrate comparisons of like fractions using a tape diagram model.

(5 minutes)
  • Show your class a blank sheet of copy paper, and fold it into eight equal parts
  • Folding the paper in half three times should yield eight equal parts. When held landscape-wise you should have a double stacked tape diagram with four equal sections.
  • Shade in one rectangle on top tape and two rectangles on the bottom tape and ask, “When you look at the top row and the bottom row, which is more and how do you know?
  • Allow for students to share ideas with the whole class.
(5 minutes)
  • Tear the tape diagrams apart (across the middle) and label each equal segment ¼. Again ask, “Which is more and how much is each?”
  • After taking a few student answers, reveal how one Tape diagramIs ¼ shaded and the other one is ¾ shaded. Visually you can see, ¾ is greater than ¼, written as ¾ > ¼.
  • Review the symbols:
    • > is greater than
    • < is less than (consequently, the open end of the symbol always faces the greater number)
    • = is equal
  • Explain that the visual models you have created are called tape diagrams that show like fractions in equal parts.
(5 minutes)
  • Hand out and preview the Compare Like Fractions with Like Diagrams worksheet.
  • Post and preview the Three Steps to Comparing Fractions with Tape Diagrams poster and answer any clarifying questions.
(15 minutes)
  • Release students to complete the Compare Like Fractions with Like Diagrams worksheet.


  • Have students make a poster for the Think About It question, using pictures, numbers, and words.


  • Refer students to the Three Steps poster, asking leading questions.
  • Compare like fractions by illustrating them with manipulative blocks, pattern blocks, and fraction strips.
(5 minutes)
  • Check in with students during independent work time and ask them to explain an exercise using the three-step procedure and listening for academic language.
  • Review student journals, later, for comprehension.
(15 minutes)
  • Have students share and explain their answers. Allow for them to ‘phone a friend’ for help if they issue incorrect answers or get stuck explaining.
  • Discuss the Think About It question, note key understandings and post for later reference.

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