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Make a Model or Diagram

Think about a time when you put together a toy for a child or assembled a bookshelf. What was the first thing that you did? Most likely, you looked at the diagram that outlined the steps to follow and what the final product would look like.

One very effective method for solving problems is to make a model or diagram. This method allows you to see what the problem is asking you to do. Sometimes it is difficult to visualize an object based on a written description. Since many students are visual learners, you will need to show them that it is helpful to draw a diagram to represent a problem.

Read the following problem and see if you can visualize what the problem is asking you to do.


In order for Celia to reach her friend Rena’s house, she must first drive 4 miles south on Route 72, then turn east and travel 6 more miles on Route 83. How much shorter would her route be if she could drive straight from her house to Rena’s house?

Would it help if you drew a diagram or model? Does viewing a diagram make it easier for you to see what you are being asked to do?

Click here to see a model that has been constructed of the problem.