Bar modelling- a powerful visual approach for introducing number topics

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32 Responses

  1. Tim says:

    Thank you for posting so much detail about this. I’ve been using bars and boxes for operations with fractions for the last couple of years and this has helped to cement what I do and extend it further. I know this will work for my current Y10 group, who need lots of support. I just need to ensure that the resources are in place for them (and will no doubt be useful for other classes of varying abilities).

    I can see this being used well with some ‘interactive notebook math’ that I’ve been thinking about too.

    • Hi Tim,

      Thanks kindly for your comments. I’m delighted to hear that you think your students might find this approach useful. I aim to develop some resources to support the ideas as time goes on and will of course share them when complete.

      I hope you had a fab Christmas and all the best for 2015!

      Best wishes,


  2. Clare says:

    We used this with year 6 in primary last year. Romped through fraction, decimals, ratio and proportion. Entire class now think ratio and proportion really easy. Now introducing it in ks1 for addition and subtraction so children really ‘get’ how they are inverse and understand ‘ find the difference’ problems. It’s not worth trying to retrofit this onto older kids who’ve already got it but there might be some secondary students who are really confused about which operation to use when for whom the bar model for + and – is a light bulb moment.

  3. Katie says:

    I use these models a lot with KS1 and KS2 pupils, especially the more visual learners just get it. For those that haven’t come across it there is a great website which has a neat interactive for these models from the very basic through fractions, ratio & proportion etc. Really worth a look. Thanks so much for all these models here, given me inspiration to keep working with them and develop them further with my pupils.

  4. Tim says:

    I have been using bar modelling for some of these topics at KS3 for the past couple of years and they really help students to visualise what is happening.

    Thank you for the great diagrams and notes. If you don’t mind I would like to use some of your images to work on these ideas with the other teachers in my department.

    • Hiya,

      Thanks for your kind words. Yes, please do feel free to use any of the pictures with your department. It would be great to hear how you get on with the resources.


  5. Andy says:

    What an absorbing and useful post. So many useful ideas – thanks so much for taking the time to write.

  6. Pam Corbyn says:

    I have been using the Australianised version of Singapore Maths, Prime, from Scholastic. There is a handbook with the bar model method.

  7. Neil Dickson says:

    Awsome post! I have created some GeoGebra sketches for understanding fractions and you’ve convinced me to slowly include bar models in each.

    Take a look:

    I think these sort of dynamic visualisations go hand-in-hand with the more old school approach of drawing them. They are another great scaffolding tool to use at the board when teaching or for students to use individually if the technology is available in the classroom.

  8. Josh says:

    This looks great, very informative thank you! I am a class teacher and as much as I think other staff could use these as clear visuals, I think the children would be able to latch onto these the most. Is it ok if I am able to use these and share them?

  9. Judy says:

    This is really good. I love using visual representations, and it’s great that it is something that can be used in so many topics so the students will revisit it lots of times. Thank you!

  10. Hema Ilyas says:

    I always believed in visuals to aid learning especially when teaching EAL children. I really believe that this way of teaching will help to secure learning – ARE!

  11. DS Primary says:

    We have introduced the bar model method across our primary school this year. Complete game changer! Found this resource very useful and will be watching for anything else you put together. Thank you!

  12. I am planning to introduce this to our Primary school so that it is embedded by the time it comes to Secondary school. Please share any worksheets or resources as this will be greatly appreciated. There are some apps on the iPad called ‘Thinking Blocks’ which are great and promote independent learning and also the website:

  13. Victoria H says:

    I’ll be honest, in the past I have been sceptical about this method. But having seen our maths lead use it and now reading this, I’ve been won over!
    What a great way to introduce a range of concepts in maths. Your article has made it really clear to me and I am also planning on sharing it with children in maths lessons.
    Thank you!

  14. Cleverice says:

    Thanks for this informative and detailed explanation of the bar model! I had never thought about such a visual explanation and will look to incorporating this more of to my teaching.

  15. Debbie O'Shaughnessy says:

    Hi I have heard references to the bar method and have seen a few scribbled examples, but to actually get some pictures with the accompanying narrative is so valuable. I am teaching my lowest set year 7 tomorrow, and really wanted to try this method; having read this, I now feel that I have the confidence to take it into the classroom. Thank you.

  16. Eni says:

    Hi. I’m a parent who’s daughter in year 7 struggles with maths. Where can I purchase the maths books. I believe this will greatly benefit her.

    I’m glad I came across your site.

    Thank you

  17. RE:Bar modelling- a powerful visual approach for introducing number topics – Great Maths Teaching Ideas Валок Wil-Rich Любим

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