What Is The Chunking Method?

Girl at desk happily studying and writing in her notebook.
Share
Tweet

It might sound like prepping a pineapple, but chunking, meaning dealing with a division problem by breaking it into pieces,  is really a simple maths method introduced in Year 3 or 4.

Chunking is the first long division method many children will learn, before moving on to the bus stop method in Year 5. Chunking division, sometimes known as repeated subtraction, is a method children can use when the numbers are too big to divide in their heads.

How Do You Use The Chunking Method?

In division, the number being divided is called the 'dividend', and the number we're dividing by is called the 'divisor'.

Explanation of the division terms.

The first step in division by chunking is to use known multiplication facts to subtract chunks of the dividend:

Chunking method example - step one.

In this example, we used a multiplication fact (8 x 12 = 96) to whittle down the size of the number we're dealing with. We could subtract the same again for the next step, but 80 is very easy to subtract from 282, so we've used that instead.

Chunking method example - step two.

We keep subtracting as many times as we need to, until we reach a number too small to subtract the divisor from:

Chunking method example - step three.

We're left with 2, which is too small to subtract another 8 from.

We then add together all the multipliers of 8 we have been using (written in green on the example) to get the answer. Any number left at the bottom of the subtraction column (in blue on the example) will form the remainder.

Chunking method example - step four.

Troubleshooting The Chunking Method

If your children tend to get stuck when using this method, the first thing to do is check their times tables knowledge. Multiplication and division are closely related, and if they don't know their multiplication facts, they won't be able to chunk with them.

Another quick way to help if kids are struggling is by using estimation to help them work out if their answer is likely to be right or if they're barking up the wrong tree.

Example of using estimation to help with the chunking method.
Disclaimer

Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents. 

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.  

Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong. 

Kidadl is supported by you, the users. When you buy through the links on our site we may earn a commission.

All prices and product availability were correct at the time of publication.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Inspiration straight to your inbox, every week