The Bar Model Method

These three units show how to use the ‘bar model method’. This is a pedagogical strategy widely used in Singapore to help students solve word problems. The bar model method:

  • is an effective problem-solving tool for use in many mathematics topics,
  • promotes the visualisation, organisation and concrete representation of mathematical quantities and relationships within a problem,
  • makes visible the part-whole and equal groups thinking that is key to many mathematics problems.

The first unit Introduction to Bar Models introduces two types of bar models, with the four operations, mostly using whole numbers.  It is designed for students in about Year 5, although much younger students can use the ideas. The second unit Bar Models in Problem Solving, for Year 6, presents more complex problem structures and incorporates more fractions and decimals. The third unit, Bar Models in Secondary Mathematics, for Years 7 and 8 supports the teaching of fractions, ratio, percentages, and algebra.

Animated slideshows demonstrate how bar models are constructed to solve all the worked examples. Bridging material is supplied so that students can start with the second or third unit.