Estimating Fractions - A Visual Tool

Estimating Fractions - A Visual Tool

Author: Mike Petty

This tutorial is based on a virtual manipulative that I made for ActivInspire software.  It provides a visual tool to students for estimating fractions as decimals and percents.

The software can be downloaded for free.  A variation is listed below that uses a Google Docs presentation as well.

When changing a decimal to a fraction or percent I have found students get caught up in steps and rarely remember that the value itself is not changing.  All we are changing is the scale that we use to measure it.

Imagine measuring the height of a small dog.  You might use a yardstick and get the height in inches.  Or you could use a meter stick and get the height in centimeters.  The height of the dog isn't changing, just the measuring stick.

To change between fractions, decimals and percents you can do the same thing.  The tool explained below allows the students to visualize how this can be done for estimation purposes.


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Fraction Estimator - Virtual Manipulative

This video shows how the virtual manipulative is used to estimate fractions as decimals and percents.

See the section below for links to the downloads.

And in a pinch you could perform the estimate with some accuracy using just pencil and paper.


You can download the file for the "flipchart" here:


And if you don't have the software, it can be downloaded here for free:


I created a Google Docs version of this as a presentation. It is free, but since the application is not made for this purpose it is less than ideal. See my blog post for complete information: