Year 2 Year 3

How to solve missing number problems using bar model?

Are you looking to teach your children how to solve missing number problems using bar model? Then, you are in the right place. Read through the article to understand bar modelling is and why it is so beneficial for children.

Free Booklet attached at the end of the article.

What is a Bar Model?

Bar model is a way to draw problems with visual representation. It helps students to achieve mastery in Maths in all operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. As children move to Upper KS2 it hugely benefits children to solve more complex problems by visualizing them.

The bar modelling is actually taken from Singapore mastery textbook that follows the approach of concrete — pictorial — abstract (CPA). In this approach the children are given the actual objects like cubes, Numicons or other manipulative to start with, then move to drawing boxes and finally they don’t need any objects to solve the problem.


Tom has 20 sweets and shares some of them with his sister Sara. He gives Sara 5. How many does he have left?

In early years, children will solve this problem using real objects.

Once children can do this themselves the next stage is to replace the ‘real’ objects with objects like cubes, button, counters or other manipulative.

The final step of this is where children represent the quantities in a rectangle bar which children should be able to do by the end of year 2.

Also check: How to solve missing number problems in Year 2

What are the benefits of using the bar model?

Bar modelling helps children to understand math better by visualizing and making sense of the problems, so children can move towards more abstract calculations. This intuitive method makes children more confident in their operations needed to solve problems. The bar model not only helps in addition and subtraction, it applies in almost all areas of math.

It is versatile and simple to use as children don’t need anything to use it except pencil and paper.

Practice your skills.

Use our mini booklet to practice part-whole method to practice bar modelling with your Ks1 and year 3 children.

The booklet includes:

  1.  Differentiated worksheets (simple, medium and complex sheets)
  2. Word problems sheet.

I value your feedback, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns what so ever as I will endeavour to address them. And if you like what I’ve done, please let me know by leaving a comment below. Thanks