There are several skills with fractions that will make understanding of decimals easier. These should be consolidated and explored before starting decimals.

**1. Parts of a fraction have to be the same size**

This is another reason why I frequently like to have students make their own fraction and decimal manipulatives. After several tries of cutting a strip into tenths, they’re much more likely to remember this point.

**2. How many fractional pieces make a whole**

It’s critical for decimals that students understand it takes ten tenths to make a whole, but this is just an extension of earlier fraction work. However many pieces the whole is subdivided into, it takes that many to make a whole. This seems pretty straightforward to us, but students need to experience and see this themselves for different fractional parts.

**3. Iterative notion of fractions**

This is understanding what the two numbers in a fraction mean.

**a.** The bottom number tells you the size of your piece – you have thirds, or fifths, etc.

**b. **The top number tells you how many pieces you have.

This understanding helps you realize that 2/7 is conceptually no different than 2 apples. You’re dealing with sevenths, and you have two of them.

**4. Improper Fractions**

Working with multiple representations of decimals will be a lot smoother if students have already had a chance to experience converting improper fractions.

This is a short (5 question) fraction diagnostic that I think is a fair representation of what students need to bring to the table to move fluidly into decimals. |

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