The Scaffold Method of Long Division

The scaffold method can help avoid making children dependent on calculators.
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Division is a process that many children struggle to learn when they are young. There are several methods that can help you make division easier for your students to understand. One of these methods is the scaffold division method. It is similar to the more commonly used form of division but splits up the numbers more fully.

The Method

The scaffold method of division is basically the same set up as basic long division. The number you are dividing is placed underneath the division bar with the number you are dividing it by to the left of the division bar. For example, if you were dividing 440 by 4, you would place the 440 under the division bar and the 4 to the left. You would then divide the largest place-value number by the division number. Write the answer down above the division bar. Move to the next place value and divide that by the number. Place this result above the original number. Keep working until all numbers have been divided. Add up all the results to find your answer.


Divide 440 by 4 by dividing the hundreds place first. The hundreds place is represented by 400. Divide it by 4 to get the result of 100. Write 100 above the division bar, lining the one up with the four underneath and the zeroes above the zeroes underneath. Move to the next place value, the tens. The tens are presented by the 40. Divide the 40 by the 4 to end up with 10. Write the ten above the 100, placing the one in the tens place value and the zero in the ones place value. You cannot divide the zero in 440 by four so stop your division. Add up the 100 and the 10 to come up with 110.


The scaffold method is a visual method that helps break down the numbers in a way that some of your students may understand more fully than the normal method of long division. It breaks the problem down into its root values. It also helps simplify the division process. Instead of thinking of a problem like 1684 divided by 6 in terms of dividing 6 by the whole number, students can think of it in terms of dividing 1,000 by 6, 600 by 6, 80 by 6 and 4 by 6. It basically breaks the problem down into simpler steps.

Real-World Application

The scaffold method of long division can be used in many real-world situations. For example, you work at a bank and you have $1,682 that you have to split up four different ways. You have to keep track of all of the different bills you use for each individual division. Using the scaffold method, you find the result of $420.50. The scaffold method would show that you had $400, $20 and $0.50 to give out. As a result, you now know that you have four $100 bills to give out, two $10 bills and two quarters to give out to each person. You can find this using normal division but the scaffold method can help some people better visualize the division.

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