Multiplication is all fun and games when it’s just a matter of memorizing your times tables. Even multi-digit multiplication is a snap once you have your facts down cold. Once you begin multiplying parts of a whole, however, things can get tricky, and even a math whiz might find themselves struggling with fractions.
Multiplying fractions doesn’t have to be hard! The real key to working with fractions is understanding that you’re dealing with parts, like puzzle pieces. If you can’t seem to get the hang of it, there are plenty of tricks for multiplying fractions out there!
Read on to learn the basics of how to multiply fractions, plus some tips and tricks that can make it even simpler.
Tips for Multiplying Fractions
Before you begin with fraction multiplication, it’s important to remember what it means to multiply. Multiplication is just repeated addition. You are adding parts of a whole together quickly, and thinking about it that way can help.
Remember that every fraction has two parts. The top of your fraction is your numerator, which tells you how many parts you have. If your puzzle has four pieces, the numerator tells you how many of those pieces you have.
The bottom of your faction is your denominator. It tells you how many pieces make up your whole. In the example of our four-piece puzzle, the denominator would be four.
If your fraction is 3/4ths, then you have three out of four puzzle pieces. Picturing the model in your mind can help.
Rules for Multiplying Fractions
There are three basic rules when multiplying two fractions together.
First, multiply the numerators and place the product in the numerator. Then, multiply the denominators and place the product in the denominator. Always finish by simplifying the resulting fraction.
You simplify your fraction by looking for the least common factor that is greater than one. That means you are looking for the smallest factor for both the numerator and the denominator.
If the numerator and denominator have no common factors, the fraction is already in the simplest form. If they share a common factor, divide both numbers by that factor.
When you’re done, you can always check your work using a fraction calculator.
Putting It Together
For example, imagine we are trying to multiply 2/8ths by 3/4ths.
First, multiply the numerators. 2 x 3 = 6.
Next, multiply the denominators. 8 x 4 = 32.
Look at the product: 6/32nds. Do these numbers have any common factors? Yes, 2 is a common factor for both 6 and 32.
When you divide 6 by 2, you get 3. When you divide 32 by 2, you get 16. The simplest form is 3/16.
Multiplying Fractions Is Fun!
The key to multiplying fractions is to take it one step at a time. If you know your multiplication facts, then all you need to do is multiply one number at a time. If you need help simplifying, consider keeping a multiplication table nearby to help you spot common factors quickly and easily!
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