Division Activities With 2nd Graders

For some reason, we (or maybe just me) tend to think that division is super hard and littles just can't handle it.  But when my oldest kid was just 3, he started naturally doing division on his own when he shared his snacks with me.  He would divide his banana in half so we could each have some.  And he would desperately try to share his goldfish between the two of us too!  It was at that moment, that I knew, that if I just used the natural, and accurate division language, it would help lay a solid foundation for his division skills later!


Today, let's talk about laying more of a foundation for "straight up division" by dividing sets, understanding equal parts, and partitioning shapes in second grade.


Dividing Sets

The first thing we worked on in 2nd grade was dividing sets.  We played share the cookies.  We used these printed placemats as sorting mats, but you could also use these fun and cheap plastic plates!  My 2nd grader set the table with the placemats and then I gave him a set number of cookies to share with the family.


The cookies and placemats made the perfect, engaging manipulative to help him do the division without feeling like he was doing "hard" math! Manipulatives for the win, once again!

We also used the book, The Doorbell Rang, and acted out the story with our cookies and mats.


We charted the the number of people sharing and the number of cookies they each got so we could look for the relational patterns in division. (As the number of sharers increases, the number of cookies each gets decreases.)


Division Trade Books

We've already talked about the book, The Doorbell Rang, but one of my newest favorite tradebooks is The Lion's Share.


I love this book because it's a fiction story that just happens to include some math.  And it also teaches a really, really great moral.  In fact, it reads like a fable and would be great to do with a fable unit and integrate division!  Math and morals... what more could you ask for in a book, right??


In the first half of the book, the animals keep dividing the left over cake in half thinking they are all getting the same piece of cake.  With this story, we acted the first half out.  We started with a full sheet of construction paper as our cake.  


Each time an animal divided it in half, we divided ours in half and labeled the half the animal kept with its initial.


This visual is super powerful in helping kids see that not all halves are equal!  Then, I gave my kiddo a new "cake" construction paper and had him cut the cake so that each animal would be able to get the same size piece.  This hits on that second grade standard of dividing rectangles into arrays of equal sized pieces. #2birds #onestone #winning


If you don't want to take the time to cut and use up the construction paper, this handout acts as the perfect visual too!


The second half of the book is multiplicative.  Each animal tries to "show up" the animal before by making double the cakes.  I had my 2nd grader figure out how many cakes each animal would make as we read this section.  It was really great for practicing mental addition and doubling and relating that to multiplication.


Dividing With Fractions

Later on in the year, we worked on partitioning shapes and giving them fractional names.  


One of my favorite ways to review math skills are with Roll & ... games.  This one, was called Roll & Partition.  In this game, you roll a die and solve one of the skills in that row.  You can play alone and just see how many rolls it takes to complete a row.  Or you can play with a partner and each get your own mat and see who can fill up a row first.


For our homeschool lesson, my 2nd grader wanted to use the same mat for both of us and I used the odd number rows only and he used the even number rows only.  So, for example, if he rolled a 3, he would just roll again until he rolled an even number.


You can find all of the detailed plans and paper materials for these activities in my Guided Math Workshop Plans for 2nd grade.


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