Understanding Halves and Fourths

Understanding halves and fourths (or quarters) is a 1st grade Common Core math skill: 1.GA.3. Below we show two videos that demonstrate how to identify halves and fourths. We then provide a breakdown of the specific steps in each video to help you teach your class.

Prior Learnings

Your students should be familiar with the Kindergarten skill of naming regular shapes (i.e. squares, circles, triangles, etc.) and using formal and informal language to analyze and compare the shapes (K.G.1-3). They should also be familiar with making simple shapes to form larger shapes (K.G.6).

Future Learnings

This 1st grade skill of understanding halves and fourths will help your students when they move onto 2nd grade. By understanding halves and fourths, your students will be able to work with, draw, and analyze shapes. Your students will learn to identify more complex shapes: triangles, quadrilaterals, hexagons and cubes (2.G.1).

They will also be able to cut shapes into equal parts and deepen their understanding of “part and whole relationship,” explaining that a whole can be made up of parts (i.e. three thirds, four fourths, etc..) They will also learn that the “equal shares of identical wholes” do not need to the same shape to equal each other (2.G.2-3).

Common Core Standard: 1.GA.3 - Understanding Halves and Fourths

Students who understand this principle can:

  1. Partition (divide) shapes like circles and rectangles into two and four equal pieces. 
  2. Describe the equal parts of shapes as halves, fourths, and quarters. 
  3. Describe a whole by its parts (e.g., two halves make a whole). 
  4. Explain that the more equal parts that are in a shape, the smaller the parts will be.

2 Video to Help You Teach the Common Core Standard: 1.GA.3

Below we provide and breakdown two videos to help you teach your students this standard.

Video 1: Using Various Shapes to Show Halves and Fourths

The video begins by explaining what halves are and then provides examples for your students to identify halves from.

  1. Halves are anything partitioned into 2 equal pieces.
  2. Partitioned is a fancy word for cut or sliced.
  3. Which way you cut a piece doesn’t matter as long as both pieces are equal.

After the halves are identified, it explains why the other shapes are not considered halves. Next, fourths are explained, and the video provides shapes for your students to identify fourths.

  1. Fourths (or quarters) are when something is partitioned into 4 equal pieces.
  2. 4 quarters make a dollar; it’s the same thing as a fourth. 
  3. Anything cut into 4 equal pieces is called a fourth or a quarter. 

Then the video provides various shapes cut into 4 pieces and asks your students to identify which ones are fourths. Then it organizes the shapes into fourths and not fourths and explains why. 

The end summarizes the rules for halves and fourths. 

  1. Halves are partitioned into 2 equal parts.
  2. Fourths (or quarters) are partitioned into 4 equal parts.

Video 2: Cutting a Pizza into Halves and Fourth and Identifying Halves and Fourths

The video continues the shapes and fractions series, focusing on halves and fourths. In the first part, you help Sarah cut pizza into halves and fourths. 

Sarah’s dad asks her to slice one pizza into halves and the other into fourths, but she’s not quite sure how to do that. She wonders what halves and fourths are. 

  1. Halves are when you cut something into 2 equal parts; each part is called a half.
    a. Sarah cuts the first pizza into halves.
  2. A fourth is one of the parts of something that has been cut into 4 equal parts. 
    a. Sarah cuts the second pizza into fourths. 

In the second part of the video, Boddle provides more practice for your students to identify halves and fourths. 

  1. Four squares (labeled A-D) with lines through them are shown; your students must find the square cut into halves.
    a. Square D is cut in halves.
    b. Boddle explains why squares A-C are not cut in halves.
  2. Four circles (labeled A-D) with lines through them are shown; your students must find the circle cut into fourths. 
    a. Circle B is cut into fourths. 
    b. Boddle explains why circles A, C, and D are not cut in fourths.

The end of the video summarizes what halves and fourths mean: halves means being divided into 2 equal parts and fourths or quarters means being into 4 equal parts.

Want more practice?

Give your students additional standards-aligned practice with Boddle Learning. Boddle includes questions related to Comparing and Measuring Lengths plus rewarding coins and games for your students to keep them engaged. Click here to sign up for Boddle Learning and create your first assignment today.

*Information on standards is gathered from The New Mexico Public Education Department's New Mexico Instructional Scope for Mathematics and the Common Core website.