What are some effective ways in teaching fractions to 5th graders who are behind (special needs)

I am teaching a group of 8 kids on fractions and I did not realize how difficult this can be. These kids were selected by their teachers for needing additional outside help. I really need some advice, it seems that only 1 kid understands me and what is going on whereas the others are confused.

They have troubles doing problems like these:

$\frac{1}{6} + \frac{1}{8}$

$2 \frac{1}{2} - 1 \frac{3}{4}$

I've explained them to go 1) find the LCD first and then 2) put the fractions in an equivalent form (i.e. 1/3 = 3/9) and then 3) add or subtract. At first I thought that by breaking it down to these steps the kids would understand but they get confused and forget.

For example $2 \frac{1}{2}$ could be rewritten as $2 \frac{2}{4}$. I then tell them to do the following operation: $2 \frac{2}{4} - 1 \frac{3}{4}$. I tell them that they're really figuring out this: (2 - 1) + ($\frac{2}{4}$ - $\frac{3}{4}$). They get really confused. Then I tell them to look at the fractions for now and ignore the whole number. They still get confused. I am up to my wits end. Not only that but they have trouble with LCM. All they want is to leave the room and not look at fractions. How can I get through these kids?!

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I would recommend an intuitive approach that they can grasp.

Buy a pizza and a cake.

Ask them how we would know how to cut them up to divide them equally.

This is fractions.

Now, show a picture of halfs and that each is represented by the fraction $\frac{1}{2}$.

What allows us to add the fractions together is the common denominator.

Repeat for $3, 4, 10$ and the actual number of students in the class.

Break, have pizza and cake as now, they'll have interest.

Now, change it up with denominators like a quarter and a half to show with some live training aid. You get the idea, use an intuitive approach with reward. Make sure to use pictures with colors to represent the fractions to show a real world application to them.

Regards

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Great examples to use for illustration/intuition! – amWhy May 6 '13 at 0:34
Sure is a motivation-builder! – amWhy May 6 '13 at 0:45

Write it as $2 + \frac{1}{2}$ rather than $2 \frac{1}{2}$. This is simpler to understand.

Make sure they understand dividing even numbers by 2, triples by 3 etc. Before trying to use fractions that don't go.

Visualization works well to teach additions e.g. showing 2 circles and another sliced in half.

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I told them this but they have trouble using it and/or don't understand it. I'm dealing with kids who have severe math issues. – Low Scores Jan 26 '13 at 23:51
@LowScores, I mean consistently use it everywhere. Don't use the notation $2 \frac{1}{2}$ at all. – user58512 Jan 26 '13 at 23:51