What are some ways to teach fifth graders about the distributive property?


Quick Answer

Common methods of teaching the distributive property of multiplication are visual demonstration and supervised practice. These methods are often combined in the classroom, then students are given additional problems to solve at home.

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Full Answer

To aid in visual demonstration, teachers often draw arches from the factor outside the parentheses to each of the factors within, then they rewrite the expression removing the parentheses; for example 5(3 + 4) = 5 x 3 + 5 x 4. After that, the teacher reworks the equation, adding the terms within parentheses first, in this case 5(3 + 4) = 5 x 7.

For supervised practice, the instructor gives students a set of problems to work both ways, doing the addition first then multiplying, or multiplying the multiplicand by both terms within parentheses then finding the sum. Through this practice, students test the distributive property on their own.

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