Q&A #178

Concept of division

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From: Mary Lou (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 01, 1998 at 17:42:36
Subject: Re: Concept of division

I am not an elementary teacher but I am a math teacher. I am also the mother of 
five grown children. We did a lot of kitchen math. 

Since you mention that your daughter has no idea of what division is, I suggest 
that you buy a pound of dry beans. Using the kitchen table, have her choose say 
12 beans and put them in one group. Choose 12 more and then put them in another 
group. Do the process again. What she has is three groups of 12 beans each. Ask 
her if she puts the beans together, how many beans will she have?  You hope that 
she recognizes that 12 + 12 + 12 = 36. Ask her how many groups she had before.   
The answer is three.  Ask her to make four groups using the 36 beans. Tell her 
that she can do it any way she wants.   

An example of a way that she might attempt is to designate four areas on the table
and portion them out one bean at a time, or two beans at a time until she runs out 
of beans. When finished, ask her to count the number of beans in each group. She 
should have nine in each group.   

Tell her to put the four groups together and get the 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 36 beans 
again. This time ask her to put the beans into 6 groups. When finished with this,   
tell her that the number of groups that you choose each time was the divisor and 
the 36 was divided into the 3, 4, or 6 groups by the divisor 3, 4, or 6. The 
number of beans that was in each group was the quotient.

If you think that she understands this, ask her to put the 36 beans into 5 groups 
with the same number of beans in each group. She should check when she is finished 
that the number of beans in each group is the same. She will also notice that 
there is one bean that cannot be put into a group. This is called the remainder  
because 5 * 7 + 1 = 36. In each of the previous groups there was no remainder 
because the numbers 3, 4, and 6 divided evenly into 36.

Once you do this try to show her how this is written as a division problem on 

Good luck.

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