Add Unlike Fractions

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Adding Unlike Fractions

Adding unlike fractions, which are fractions with different denominators, is a bit more complex than adding like fractions, but it’s a very useful skill to have. This is explained in an easy-to-understand way, especially for younger learners like 5th graders.

What are Unlike Fractions?

Unlike fractions are fractions that have different denominators (the bottom numbers). For example, 1/4 and 1/3 are unlike fractions because their denominators, 4 and 3, are not the same.

How to Add Unlike Fractions

To add unlike fractions, you first need to make their denominators the same. This process is called finding a common denominator.

Steps for Adding Unlike Fractions

  1. Find a Common Denominator: This is a number that both denominators can divide into. Often, it’s the least common multiple of the two denominators.
  2. Convert Fractions to Equivalent Fractions with the Common Denominator: Adjust the numerators accordingly.
  3. Add the New Fractions: Now that the fractions have the same denominator, add their numerators.
  4. Simplify the Result: If possible, reduce the fraction to its simplest form.

Real-life Examples

Example 1: Mixing Juices

Suppose you’re making a fruit punch by mixing different juices. You add 1/3 of a cup of apple juice and 1/4 of a cup of grape juice. To find the total amount of juice, add these fractions:

  • Find a common denominator for 3 and 4. The least common multiple is 12.
  • Convert 1/3 to 4/12 and 1/4 to 3/12.
  • Add the fractions: 4/12 + 3/12 = 7/12.

So, you’ve added 7/12 of a cup of juice in total.

Example 2: Slicing Pizzas

Imagine you have two pizzas, one is cut into 6 slices (you have 2 slices left) and the other into 8 slices (you have 3 slices left). To find out the total fraction of the pizzas left:

  • Find a common denominator for 6 and 8. The least common multiple is 24.
  • Convert 2/6 to 8/24 and 3/8 to 9/24.
  • Add the fractions: 8/24 + 9/24 = 17/24.

You have 17/24 of the pizzas left.

Why Add Unlike Fractions?

Adding unlike fractions is important in real life for combining different amounts efficiently, such as in cooking, mixing ingredients, or any time you’re combining parts of a whole that are not initially equal.

 

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