Elementary Division: Understanding Elementary Math

Division is one of the biggest challenges in elementary school math. Here are some tools and tips for learning to divide using the skills you have already acquired through multiplication.

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Learning to Divide

Understanding Division

The first thing you need to know when learning to divide is that division is a way of grouping numbers together. The problem 10 ÷ 4 can also be expressed like this: How many groups of four fit into ten? To cement this idea in your mind, try using paper clips to practice. Using the division problems on a school worksheet, count up the paper clips to demonstrate the problem visually.

For the problem 16 ÷ 4, count out 16 paper clips on a table. Now make as many groups of four as you can from the 16. You'll find that there are four groups of four; this tells you that 16 ÷ 4 = 4. The number of groups that the smaller number (four) can fit into the bigger number (16) is the solution.

Reverse Multiplication

Knowing your times tables makes learning division a lot simpler. Let's look at the problem 20 ÷ 5. To solve this, you can recall that 5 x 4 = 20, which means that 20 divided by five is four. Here are some practice problems that you can solve by remembering times tables:


1. 9 ÷ 3

Because 3 x 3 = 9, 9 ÷ 3 = 3.

2. 12 ÷ 1

Like multiplication, any number divided by one will equal itself.

3. 8 ÷ 4

In multiplication, 2 x 4 = 8, so 8 ÷ 4 = 2.

4. 30 ÷ 10

The answer is three. Another way to think about this problem is you simply remove the two zeros, that way the problem is 3 ÷ 1, which equals three.

Tricks of the Trade

In addition to hard work and memorization, there are a few tricks that can make division a little easier. The first one has to do with the end digits in a division problem. If a number ends in zero, the entire number is divisible by ten, two and five. If the last number is even, then it is completely divisible by two, and if the last digit is five, the entire number is divisible by five.

There are also tricks to help you divide large numbers. If the last two digits of a number can be divided by four, the whole number can be divided by four. If the last three digits can be divided by eight, the whole number can be divided by eight. And lastly, if the last four digits can be divided by 16, the whole number can also be divided by 16.

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