Math Is Fun: Teaching Division in a Fun Way

Many math teachers dread teaching division, especially as the divisor grows to two or more digits, because so many children find it difficult. Games and other strategies can make the process more fun for both teachers and students.

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Fun Strategies for Teaching Math

Use Your 'Noodle' with Younger Children

Divide the children into groups, sometimes with the same number in each group, sometimes with that number varying so you can introduce different division problems at the same time. Give each group a paper plate with a number of dried noodles on it - the number of noodles is the number that you want the children to divide (the dividend).

Have the students divide the noodles so that each child has the same number of noodles. (Unless you're teaching remainders, be sure it comes out evenly for each group.) You can teach the words dividend, divisor and quotient as they play. Write the problem on the board for them in whatever formats you want them to learn.

Math Stories

Write a Story About Division

Having your students compose stories not only helps them understand division better, but can also hone their language arts skills. Give them a specific problem to write about, such as:

'A family with three boys, ages 8, 10 and 11, went to the carnival. Dad gave them money to buy tickets for rides. The money was enough for 29 tickets. Write a short story about how the boys decided how to divide the tickets between them.'

Read a Math Storybook

If you search the Internet for 'stories that teach math,' you'll find a number of relevant books. One that's especially helpful for younger children who are learning division is The Doorbell Rang by Paul Hutchins. You can probably find it in your local library.

The story is about two children who have been given enough cookies for each to have six cookies. Then friends keep coming over - the doorbell rings again and again, and they have to keep reapportioning the cookies. When they've finally reached the point of one cookie each, the doorbell rings again. Fortunately, it's not another cookie-eater, but instead it's Grandma, a cookie-bringer!

After reading the story to the class once, you can choose children to act out the story using either paper or real cookies. If you use real cookies, you might alter the story to include all of the students in the class and have each child end up with one cookie.

Riddles and Word Problems

Your math textbook probably contains a lot of story problems that you can use. These are the most fun when everyone can help figure out the answer, such as:

'If we had 600 candy bars to sell to raise funds for a class picnic, how many would each of you have to sell to get them all sold?'

Ask your students for ideas about how to figure out the answer. One idea is to have 600 pieces of paper and deal them out to the students, dividing 600 by the number of students in the class.

Music Divides (and Multiplies)

Many children love to make up songs - especially silly ones. Challenge them to create some songs about division. Additionally, a number of music CDs are available for teaching math.

Double Division

Teaching math when the divisor has two or more digits can be difficult and discouraging for some. If you're one of these teachers, you might want to look into 'double division math,' also known as '1-2-4-8 division.' Many teachers claim that it has worked for their students. Before you decide, check out the questions some teachers have about using the method and see if it's a fit for you and your classroom.

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