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How to Do Box Method Long Division in 5 Steps (with Minimal Stress)

July 13, 2022 No Comments

Are you an upper elementary teacher who is stressing out over long division? Do you feel like you’re going in circles and can’t seem to get it right? The box method may be just what you need. This easy, step-by-step guide will have you doing long division with minimal stress in no time!

How to do the box method of long division in five steps

Box Method Long Division; Why Does it Matter?

As discussed in my last post, the box method is an alternative strategy for solving long division problems, including less headache memorization. You will set the problem up in a ‘box’ format.

You should teach box method long division because it is more straightforward, more organized, and conceptual for students at this grade level. Let’s take a look at the breakdown of each step for how to do the box method of long division.

Setup

First, draw a large square. Make 1 column per digit of the dividend. Write the divisor just outside the square, to the left of the first digit of the dividend.

The first step to do the box method long division

Step #1 (optional)

Students will look at the divisor first and list out all the multiplication facts for that number. Students should multiply all factors from 0 to 9. I recommend this step because it allows for quicker retrieval in later steps.

The second step to do the box method long division

Step #2

Students will consult their multiplication facts to divide the divisor and the first digit of the dividend. At this time, I have students consult their multiplication facts from Step 1 to decide ‘Which fact shows a product that does not exceed the digit(s) in the dividend column but is closest to it?’

OPTIONAL: Have students circle this fact.

The third step to do the box method long division

Step #3

Students will write the remaining factor from the circled multiplication fact above the first column. In the same column, students will subtract the product. Students will move the difference to the top of the next column, right in front of the digit already there. This will form a new, two-digit number altogether.

OPTIONAL: Have students draw an arrow to indicate the placement of this number.

The fourth step (part 1) to do the box method long division

Step #4

Students will now follow Steps 1-3 over again for each of the remaining columns.

The fourth step (part 2) to do the box method long division

Step #5

The difference remaining in the last column will be the remainder (if applicable). Students can write this number to the right of the columns, accompanied by an ‘R’.

The fifth step to do the box method long division

Easy Enough, Right?

If you are still lost in the sauce, I would suggest reading about the basics of WHY we implement the box method instead of the standard method of long division.

If you’d like to incorporate engagement AND box method division (win-win in my book), I’ve got you covered.

P.S. – You can check out all my done-for-you box method division resources, set up with color-coding and organization of columns already implemented!

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