Soldier’s Buttons

soldier's buttons - adding decimalsSoldier’s Buttons – or how to add decimals

OK – I’ll be honest, I’ve never had an original idea in my life, but I’m quite good at ripping off those that have gone before me.

Many, many years ago, at a school far, far away, I arrived as a fresh faced Head of Maths. Rummaging through the department store cupboard, I came across a dusty tome and I began to leaf through it. I found a chapter headed “Soldier’s Buttons” and I was intrigued.  It had a sketch picture of a Guardsman standing to attention and then went on to explain how, when adding or subtracting decimal numbers, you should line up the decimal points like the buttons on a soldier’s uniform.

What a brilliant idea.  So I immediately pinched it and began teaching it as my own! For years I have been (very badly) drawing a picture of a Guardsman on the board and reminding pupils of: “Soldiers Buttons!” – getting them to line up the decimal points like the buttons on a soldier’s uniform before adding or taking away:

soldiers buttons - adding decimals exampleAnd I was reminded of this on a half-term day trip with my family* to London.  Seeing the Guards in front of Buckingham Palace, looking so smart, with their buttons lined up in a straight line, just like when we add (or take away) decimals …

Need to practise adding and subtracting decimals (remembering soldier’s buttons!)? Then these may be of help:

*You can read about my day trip to London on my o/h’s blog

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