Simplifying Fractions

Contributor: Elephango Editors. Lesson ID: 10962

Looking for a way to simplify working with big fractions? Can't find a 120/180 oz. measuring cup? Follow these simple steps and practice online to learn how to reduce fractions!


Fractions and Operations

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Imagine you are looking over the directions to your homework! The directions go on, and on, and on. These directions are so complicated! I bet you wish the directions were simple and easier to understand. Maybe, you even ask your teacher to explain your homework in simpler terms. 

Fractions work the same way!


Look at the fraction below. Try and imagine a drawing of that fraction:


I bet it was hard to imagine that fraction as a fraction bar or a picture!

Maybe if we simplify the fraction, it will be easier to understand!

In order to simplify a fraction, we need to reduce the numerator and denominator to make a simpler to understand equivalent fraction.

Woah! We need to simplify that sentence.

Let's look at the first word: reduce.

Reduce means to make smaller. In order to make a number smaller, there are two operations we can do: subtract and divide. In the case of fractions, we will be dividing to simplify the fraction.

We will divide the numerator and denominator to simplify the fraction:

divide the fraction

  • But divide them by what?

We need to find the greatest common factor (GCF). This will make an equivalent fraction. This means the simplified fraction will be equal to the original fraction.

(If you need a review of GCF. check out our lesson found under Additional Resources in the right-hand sidebar._

First, list out all the factors for 36 and 45. Then, find the greatest factor the two numbers have in common:


Now, we are ready to divide and reduce the fraction! Both 36 and 45 share the factor of 9. Divide the top and bottom of the fraction by 9:

divide by GCF

We just simplified a fraction!

simplified fraction

Now, try and imagine that fraction! I bet it is easier to understand and picture in your head:

four fifths

You are ready to practice simplifying fractions on your own! Visit the Got It section to try your new skills!

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