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Use Multi-colored Pencils to Organize Numbers


Study Skills & Tools Mathematics K-8 Strategy


Fine Motor Skills Working Memory Visual Discrimination Spatial Perception

Use Multi-colored Pencils to Organize Numbers

If your student makes math errors because of messy handwriting

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students will use multi-colored pencils to visually organize their work and prevent math errors.
  2. Direct Instruction: Explain how colored pencils can help students more clearly organize and line up their numbers when solving math problems. Use the following guidelines to introduce and practice a system with your students: 1) Use a dark pencil, pen or marker to write the initial problem. 2) Use a different color when solving the problem to clearly see the difference. (Some students use multiple colors, such as red for adding the ones place, blue for adding the tens place, and green for adding the hundreds place.) 3) Individual students might need to work with a teacher to come up with a personalized purposeful plan for the colors, so the strategy does not turn into a distraction.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Many students feel anxious when solving lengthy math problems, which means that their working memory might not be working as well as it could be. Add on to that less than neat handwriting and you might have a student who knows how to solve a problem but forgets which column a number belongs in which throws off the entire solution. Multi-colored pencils and graph paper are good options to help students clearly see their calculations.