The easiest way to convert a fraction to a decimal is to divide the top (numerator) by the bottom (denominator) – that is if you have stellar division skills. For kids who struggle with division, converting a fraction to a decimal can become equally frightening, but it doesn’t have to be. While ultimately kids will still need to divide to convert a fraction to a decimal, they can make the division quite a bit easier.
The Power of Ten
To change any fraction to a decimal, instead of dividing right away, start by converting the denominator to a power of 10. For example, if you have the fraction 3/5, you can multiply 5 by 2 to get 10. When you multiply 3 by 2 as well, you get 6/10 or .60.
Look at another fraction such as 1/4. If you multiply 4 by 5, you get 20. Multiplying 1 by 5 gives you 5/20. You can then divide 20 by 2 to get 10 and do the same to the top to get 2.5/10 or .25 as a decimal.
Of course, some fractions pose an even bigger challenge. For example, 5/13. You can multiply 13 by 10 to get 130 and 5 by 10 to make the fraction 50/130. Then divide each side by 13 to get 3.86/10 or .386 as the decimal.
What about a larger fraction such as 309/500? Simply divide 500 by 5 to get 100 and to the same to 309 to get 61.8/100, making the decimal .618.
While the process may appear longer and more complicated than simply dividing the numerator by the denominator, it allows kids to work with smaller numbers and simpler examples of multiplication and division.
Memorizing Common Conversions
Another easy way to convert a fraction to a decimal is to simply memorize common conversions. While the conversions will not even come close to covering all the fractions kids will encounter, it’ll give them a start. Some of the common conversions kids should memorize include:
Practice Makes Perfect
Of course, practicing converting fractions to decimals can also play a big role in helping kids understand the process. The more kids convert fractions to decimals, the more they’ll remember common conversions and the faster the process will go. Games such as the Puppy Chase Decimals Game give kids a chance to practice converting some of the more common decimals quickly. For more advanced practice, try the Converting Decimals to Fractions worksheet, which incorporates mixed numbers into its problems or the Decimals, Fractions, and Percentages worksheet, which connects fractions and decimals with another important concept – percentages.
When it comes to converting fractions to decimals, the goal is to show kids that numbers can be represented in multiple ways. By learning different types of conversions, and being able to complete them quickly, they’ll be more confident when tackling complex equations.