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Graph Paper for Computations


Mathematics Study Skills & Tools All Ages Strategy


Fine Motor Skills Visual Discrimination Spatial Perception

Graph Paper for Computations

If your student has scattered math errors because of misaligned numbers or poor handwriting

Instruction And Practice

  1. Objective: Students will keep their math computations neat by using graph paper.
  2. Offer graph paper with square sizes that are optimal for a student's age. Younger children can use graph paper with larger squares to accommodate larger handwriting. Explain to students how graph paper can help: Solving math problems on graph paper can help you avoid accidentally putting numbers in the wrong place or misunderstanding your own writing. Use the student guide (on the next slide) for tips to practice with your students.
  3. If keeping numbers aligned continues to be a problem in middle or high school, consider an app that can interpret handwriting and translate it into a proper equation or set of equations. One good option is MyScript MathPad.

Teacher Resources

  1. OER Resource: There are websites, including Printable Paper, that offer free printable graph paper with the option of setting the grid spacing.

*students* Guide: Use Graph Paper To Align Numbers

  1. Keep one number per square with numbers vertically aligned by place value (ones, tens, etc.).
  2. When you regroup a number, give it its own square.
  3. Give decimal points their own square to assure proper alignment and so decimals are not missed.
  4. Limit to a few problems per page so you have as much room as you need to write clearly and accurately.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Most young children have difficulty maintaining the level of neatness required for lengthy math problems, but it can be an ongoing concern for some children. Some students continue to make their numbers different sizes or incrementally shift numbers out of alignment. While this might not be a problem with two-digit calculations, it can start to cause confusion when they need to add up multi-digit numbers or do multiple steps. They might not re-consider the numbers and just perform the rote calculations never realizing that an "unaligned" number was used in the wrong column.