Long Division Lesson Plans for Math Teachers

In states where the Common Core State Standards are followed, children begin learning long division in fourth grade. Here they learn to divide dividends by 1-digit divisors. In fifth grade, they expand to 2-digit divisors. When teaching, the trick is to present the process so that children both understand and remember it. They'll also need practice so they can actually experience the process.

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Lesson Plans for Teaching Long Division

Engage Students' Interest

The first consideration when teaching a new concept is to stimulate the students' desire to learn the concept. Motivation can go a long way in getting students to participate in the learning process. Grab their attention right from the beginning by using a visual or challenging students with a question that requires higher-order thinking.

Using Music

One of the best sites for variety is YouTube.com, where you can find many musical presentations of long division. Other presentations are strictly teaching the long-division process, with visual step-by-step demonstrations. Occasionally you can find one that mixes both music and demonstrations (look for Mr. Dewey presentations).

Another fun way to present long division with song is by making having your own class sing their way through the long-division process. Either write your own or sing an existing song for the class and teach it to them. Ham it up for a most memorable experience.

Reading Stories

Most division stories don't specifically address long division. Sometimes, however, a teacher will take a longer book, such as Danger, Long Division by Janet Gingold, and read half a chapter or so each day to the class. This can not only stimulate interest, but continue the 'suspense' of the storyline for a number of days.

Telling Stories

You can make up short, real-life stories that present situations that require using long division. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to begin with story problems from your textbook. For example, begin with a story problem such as, 'John's school has a special field trip for the whole school every spring. Each school bus has 36 seats. The school has 252 students. How many buses will they have to use for the field trip?'

Not only can this type of real-life problem be engaging for students, but it can also demonstrate how to use this math operation in the real world. In some cases, if students see the practical use of a skill, they will be more willing to learn the concept.

Presenting the Process

The second major element of the lesson plan is to teach how to do long division. Even if you've already presented the process through the use of Internet videos, a step-by-step explanation is needed here, perhaps preceded by a review of the multiplication table.

To help students remember the steps in the correct order, many teachers come up with a mnemonic. A common one involves remembering the members of a family: Dad (Divide), Mom (Multiply), Sister (Subtract), Brother (Bring down), Rover (Remainder). Or you might use 'shock value' to aid memory, such as 'Dead Mice Stink Bad.' Have the kids make up their own because they'll be more likely to remember one they made up themselves. (They'll likely come up with something silly like 'Does My Stupid Brother Read?')


Finally, provide opportunities for students to practice what they have learned. Because they'll need to do many division problems before they truly know how to do them, worksheets are a commonly-used tool. Alternatively, if computers are available to the students, there are a lot of interactive worksheets and games that they can use for practice. You can also make games, such as long-division Bingo, or board games such as Division Drag Race (www.crayola.com) and Driving into Division (www.learn-with-math-games.com). Just check the Internet for directions and printable boards.

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