Introducing Division to Students

  • division, teaching to divide

One of my all-time favorite stories for teaching division is “Bean Thirteen” by Matthew McElliot.

“Bean Thirteen” is a story about 2 crickets, Ralph and Flora, who gather beans to eat, but find that, no matter how they share them, or with how many friends, there is always one left over! Bean Thirteen is a great book to use for developing the concept of division for students of all ages. Listen to the story below, you can even get felt pieces for this story, SO CUTE!

Before reading the book talk about what is fair and how to share fairly. Throw out the following question for your students to consider, “what if you were with a friend and had 4 candies. How would you make sure that you each had a fair share?” Then discuss the division strategies the children use to divide up the candy. After the students have come to the conclusion to count “one for me, one for you” introduce the fair share strategy and have them listen carefully to the story and see how our friends, Ralph and Flora solve their problem.

division pasters

Division posters partitive division, measurement division and division strategy posters

Once the book is done, hand out the following activity along with a handful of 11-19 beans. Give the student a manageable amount of beans. The students use the beans and plate to represent the number of friends and how many are left, if at all any. They then record the number of beans and their results on the sheet. Download this activity for free here.

This book and activity will get your students to think about the practical use of division. You will see that they all mostly have used the fair share strategy so it will all click. If you are looking for more beginning division activities make sure to check out my packet.