This week children have used bar models to solve problems related to fractions. They have used pictures to represent calculations and interpret what is required. This visual strategy uses different sized rectangles or 'bars' that are proportional so that a larger number in a problem is represented by a larger bar. Sometimes calculations and word problems are difficult for a child to visualise in their head. Bar models help them to see the maths more clearly. It does not provide the answer but gives children an understanding of what calculation is needed to arrive at the solution.
Initially children are encouraged to use practical apparatus to represent problems. The gap between this practical means and more abstract concepts is bridged by the visual drawing of bars to understand the structure of a problem.
Bar models of problems or ideas that can be used for all four number operations, fractions and ratios and proportion. It is also useful in representing unknowns in a problem and as such can be a precursor to more symbolic algebra. They have the big benefit of helping children to decide which operations they can use or how to represent a problem.