Math PK-2

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Math PK-2 > Strategies > Drawing Pictures

Drawing Pictures


Drawing pictures to represent their thinking helps young learners use non-linguistic representations to demonstrate their understanding. Visual representations allow learners to exhibit what they know and can do in alternative ways which can support Working Memory during problem solving and retention of information in Long-term Memory.

Apply It In Your Learning Environment

  • Encourage young learners to draw pictures and explain their thinking to demonstrate their mathematical understanding of Operations and Symbolic Number.
  • When paired with manipulatives, learners can share how their concrete actions can be represented visually.
  • Remind learners that the emphasis is on simply and clearly demonstrating their mathematical understanding not the quality of the art. If their math ideas can be explained by them and understood by others, then they have visually represented their thinking.
  • Model quick sketches while thinking aloud.
  • When teaching online, utilize the whiteboard for learners to show their thinking and understanding visually.
  • In online environments, learners can share the pictures they draw as their background images for a virtual gallery walk to explore how other learners visually represented a similar concept or problem.
  • Blended learning can involve young learners using paper and pencil to draw pictures to represent their mathematical thinking, then holding them up to the camera to discover similarities and differences or using an edtech tool that supports comparing and contrasting images.
  • To support fine motor skills development, provide a range of materials to use for drawing (fat crayons or pencils, golf pencils, markers, etc.).
  • Provide common math tools that can be used to support the non-linguistic representation of mathematical thinking.

Apply It To Product Development

Use It in the Classroom

  • Provide a library of common math tools for learners to build upon, so they do not have to draw complex structures and can focus their Working Memory on problem solving, reasoning, and communicating their thinking through pictures (i.e. ten frames, hundreds boards, grids, rods and units, bar models, and colored cubes).
  • Design It into Your Product

  • Provide drawing tools to support multiple ways of communicating their learning, including various colors, text boxes for labeling, and writing tools. This supports learners' Mathematical Flexibility by allowing them to creatively explore their thinking and bring their ideas to life.
  • Factors Supported by this Strategy