Once upon a time there was a small village of unicorns who had a plethora of beautiful, sparkly gems. The unicorns used the gems to energize themselves every morning. The biggest rule of all was that each unicorn needed to divide out the same number of gems or the magic would be out of balance… and so would their daily energies!
Can you divide the gems up evenly amongst the unicorns to help them all have balanced energy? I bet you can…
Deep Objective: to creatively gain an understanding of the concepts of simple division while using the imagination to enhance learning, interest, and play through mathematics.
Materials: (the highlighted words are links to examples)
- large flat marbles
- unicorn stickers (make sure they will fit on the marbles, and press them on top)
- flat rhinestone gems
- unicorn box (mine was my grandmother’s jewelry box)
- gem box
- division slips
- division booklet (multi-colored found in my shop)
- labels (made in Word, then printed and cut)
If you are using the placement labels, set the divisor at the top (this is where the unicorns will go), and the quotient on the left (the number of gems counted down the one column will equal the quotient). The first problem we will do no remainders, then try one with remainders.
Check out the videos at the bottom of this post showing division with no remainders, and division with remainders, starring Punkee!
Choose a division slip and place it underneath the label. Explain to the child that the 14 is the dividend, the seven is the divisor and we are going to find the quotient. I’ll simply explain the wording by saying that, in this case, there are fourteen gems and seven unicorns, so we have to divide up the fourteen gems between the seven unicorn divisors. Keep the wording short and simple or you’ll lose them before the lesson starts!
Lay out seven unicorns/divisors.
If it’s not too confusing – or too much wordage – for the student, then you can also keep the “divisor” label above the unicorns.
Start to count out the gems giving each unicorn one gem at a time. This is to accentuate that the unicorns will have an even number of gems.
Continue to count out each gem, starting on a new row until all of the gems have been passed out.
We see that there are two gems in each column, which tells us that the quotient is two!
Place the division slip above your paper for easier copying. Many students automatically include the division and equal symbol without being asked. Some do not. If you want to encourage the student to put the symbols, just simply say, “Can you show me where the division symbol would go? Great, now can you write it? Let’s do that for each one.”
Keep the material out until the problem with the quotient is completely written down.
Have the child repeat the problem out loud. Agree with the child that, “So we see that we could divide the 14 gems up between each unicorn two times.” I’ve had some students jokingly pretend that the unicorns were devouring their gems… it’s pretty comical the stuff they come up with!
You could also consider placing a dark piece of felt underneath the division pieces as a work space. The rainbow division booklet page on the right is available in my shop.
After doing a couple of these, you may get asked what happens if not every unicorn gets the same amount? If you think the child is ready to practice with remainders, then go for it. Here’s how:
Use a division slip that will result in having a reminder. The heart tray to the right is a small lid from the gem box that we will use to gather the remainder so that they have a place and purpose. I’ve found that without some kind of small tray or box, the remainders get misplaced or overlooked.
Set out your divisors, which in this case is four. In this photo, the child is actually chatting between the two unicorns, asking permission if she can stand next o her (ha!).
Start evenly passing out the gems to each unicorn. I have the student count out loud, at least until I know that she understands the process.
This is where we notice that the unicorns do not have evenly distributed gems. Sometimes the student imagines them arguing over the gems, and I’ll jokingly intrude and say, “But wait, there is a way that we can make this division problem work. We will take the gems that do not help it to be even, and we’ll place them in this tray. This tray is for the remaining gems, which is why it’s called the Remainder Tray.”
The student can gather the extra gems and place them in the tray. Then we can safely say that fifteen gems were divided up between four unicorns three times, with a remainder of three.
Write the problem down onto the division booklet.
And pat yourself on the back!
Here is a video practicing division without remainders:
Here is a video practicing division with remainders: