Linking the Four Operations

I’ve written before about the importance of children establishing a good understanding of the connections between the four operations.

The same is true for the staff teaching our children. Most primary teachers are not specialists, and it has become clear to me through my work with trained teachers that many are in the unenviable position of teaching maths with only precarious foundations themselves.

This poster has proved a useful talking point in teacher training sessions. It pushes at the edges of knowledge in different ways for different people.


For some, this poster helped establish the basic idea that multiplication and division is all about combining or partitioning into EQUAL parts.

For others, the challenge was unpicking whether they were equally comfortable with describing this bar model with two different division equations.

For another group, there was a higher level discussion about the notion that division is about breaking a whole. Is that actually an adequate description? When does it become unhelpful?

It is a resource which bears revisiting with teachers and students because it provokes and challenges and in doing so embeds understanding. A useful exercise would be to get students, or for that matter teachers, to recreate it, or even better, to create their own mind map for what the four operations are, and how they are linked.

Download the poster here.