Division is a wonderful 3rd grade math concept to introduce to your child, because along with the actual math skill your child will be learning, this is a perfect time to again emphasize the importance of sharing with others.
What is it?
Once children have learned about Multiplication, they are ready to begin exploring the concept of Division. They do not typically begin by memorizing division math facts, nor do they jump right into long division. Instead, they will be introduced to Division by learning that Division is the same as equal sharing. They may also be introduced to problems with remainders.
Activity #1: Division of One Object
- Talk about division. You can begin talking about Division with your child by using hands-on materials that you have around your house. For instance, you could take a cookie, and break it into 2 pieces to share. Tell your child you just “divided” the cookie in 2. Now take another cookie, and try dividing it into 4 pieces.
Activity #2: Division of a Group of Objects
- Use manipulatives to drive home the concept. 1) Gather the same number of bowls as people in your family, and any small manipulatives (dried beans, buttons, macaroni, etc.). If you have 4 people in your family, gather 4 bowls, line them up, and count out the manipulatives so there is a multiple of 4, such that you will not have a remainder. Good amounts to start with would be 8, 12, 16, or 20. 2) Tell your child that you want to give everyone in your family the same amount of macaroni, and you want to use all the macaroni. Tell her that a fair way to do it would be to put one piece of macaroni in each bowl, all the way down the line until each bowl has one piece of macaroni. 3) Demonstrate what this would look like. Then, continue distributing the macaroni in the same manner until all the macaroni has been passed out amongst the bowls. 4) Ask your child if she thinks it looks fair. 5) Now ask her to count the pieces of macaroni in each bowl to check. Tell her that you “divided” all the macaroni pieces up among all the bowls. This is called Division. 6) Give her different amounts of macaroni (still in multiples of 4) and let her explore on her own.
Activity #3: Division with Remainders
- Talk about remainders. 1) Using the same bowls from Activity #2, ask your child to divide up a different amount of macaroni (be sure the total number is not a multiple of 4 (ex: 21, 34, and 45 would be good amounts). Tell her that you want her to pass out as much of the macaroni as possible, but it still needs to be “fair.” 2) Ask her what the bowls would look like if it were “fair” (each bowl has to have the same number of pieces of macaroni).Your child should begin placing the macaroni pieces in one bowl at a time, down the line. For example, if she starts with 21 pieces of macaroni, this is what will happen: When she puts the 20th piece in the bowl, she should have one piece left. 3) Observe what she does. She may put it in the first bowl, or she may just stop. Be sure to explain to her that she cannot put it in the first bowl, otherwise it would not be fair. 4) Tell her this one piece of macaroni that she has leftover is called a “remainder.” The remainder cannot go into a bowl. Instead, it is simply placed off to the side.
What to Watch For
- As your child tries to divide up the cookie, be sure she divides it into equal pieces (as much as possible!).
- In Activities #2 and #3, watch that she places only one piece of macaroni in each bowl. Also, watch that she begins with one bowl, then goes to the next one, and so on down the line. When she places the macaroni into the last bowl, she should start back at the first bowl again.
- Watch that she does not place any pieces of macaroni that should be “remainders” into the bowls.
- For Activities #2 and #3: If you have a different number of family members than 4, adjust the number of bowls and the number of pieces of macaroni accordingly.
- As always, playing math games at home is a great way to reinforce math skills learned in school.
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