Visualizing the Division of Fractions

Question: I'm going on 72 and somehow seem to have missed the lesson on dividing fractions. Oh, I know there are rules to follow, but I'm a visual person and I've forgotten the "rules." What I need is to be able to picture what is really happening in dividing fractions like 2/3 by 1/4. -- Still Learning

Answer: No matter how old you are, math concepts are always a lot easier to understand when you can actually see how they work. The rule for division with fractions is to invert the divisor and multiply. To solve your problem, you simply need to multiply 2/3 by 4/1. The answer is 2 2/3. In order to picture how the problem is solved, however, you need to think of how many sets of 1/4 are in 2/3. To do this, both fractions have to be expressed in the same fractional parts.

In other words, how many sets of 3 (twelfths) are in 8 (twelfths)? Take a long strip of paper and draw lines to divide it into 12 equal parts. Then, cut one piece to represent 8 (twelfths) and another for 3 (twelfths). Determine how many sets of 3 (twelfths) are in 8 (twelfths). There will be 2 complete sets of 3 and a set of 2 thirds left over.