Using Simple Imagery to Help Students Learn Mathematics

Utilizing imagery and visual memory can be very
helpful when learning mathematics. 
A single picture can help a student define and remember a concept, or it
can even help them to recall the steps required to compute a problem.  What’s more, it often brings the “fun
factor” into the learning environment as students can pull out their crayons,
colored pencils or magic markers to complete the activity.
I recently learned about the Palm Tree Method from
one of my students. I scoured the internet to find its origin, but came up
empty handed.  So, although I did
not come up with this idea, it is still one of my favorites for solving
proportions.  Here is a sample
problem and the steps to follow.
  1. Write out the proportion.
  2. Draw a green oval around the numerator of the first fraction and the denominator of the second fraction.
  3. Draw another green oval around the denominator of the first fraction and the numerator of the second fraction.  
  4. Notice how the crisscrossing ovals create a multiplication sign.  This will remind students that they will be multiplying the numbers circled. 
  5. Draw the trunk on the tree as a brown rectangle.
  6. Write out the problem:  100·x = 60·80  (placing the equals sign in the trunk of the palm tree).
  7. Solve the next step 60·80=4800 (again placing the equals sign in the trunk of the palm tree).
  8. Then divide the two sides by 100 to solve for x.

If you would like to learn about other imagery activities
to help your students learn math concepts, you might like my products,
Measurement Memory Strategies or Why We Should Learn about Angles.
Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to and 

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