Math PK-2

Concrete-Representational-Abstract (CRA)


CRA is a sequential instructional approach during which students move from working with concrete materials to creating representational drawings to using abstract symbols. Using this concrete-representational-abstract sequence helps students develop the thorough mental representations that are foundational for conceptual understanding.

Use It in the Classroom

Watch how this second grade teacher demonstrates the CRA approach with an example word problem. By going through this instructional sequence, she shows how teachers can support student conceptual understanding, procedural accuracy, and mathematical fluency.

  • When teaching a math concept such as Operations or Place Value, teachers can first model it with concrete objects like manipulatives. Then, when students demonstrate mastery with these objects, teachers can work with students to draw pictures that represent the concrete objects. Finally, teachers can introduce the concept with only numbers and math symbols to target abstract understanding.
  • Design It into Your Product

    Videos are chosen as examples of strategies in action. These choices are not endorsements of the products or evidence of use of research to develop the feature.

    Learn how Teachley integrates representational and abstract forms to build mathematical understanding. By displaying both manipulatives and number symbols, students develop their conceptual understanding of Operations and are able to learn from multiple representations.

  • Products can use CRA to sequence and present their lessons using digital features such as virtual manipulatives and drawing tools.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy