Pictures and diagrams are problem solving strategies that many students learn at the earliest stages of math development.
This is a good strategy as it is a way to communicate mathematical thinking.
Students note changes in stages and explain how the change in the table is occurring. You can use picture books to support teaching how to make a table. Here is an elementary problem solving worksheet to go with it: Magic Pot table (courtesy of Math Wire.com).
Another classic picture book for math is One Grain Of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale.
Problem solving strategies must keep the focus on the "thinking" that is occurring.
Draw A Picture Strategy For Math Problem Solving
Math is often about a variety of skills and processes, but how we creatively use those skills is what leads us to finding solutions for difficult situations.
From there, students begin to apply that understanding to basic word problems and often begin using a Model Drawing approach.
A Model Drawing is simply a pictorial representation that helps students internalize and visualize math.
When we "coach" our students through different problem solving puzzles, we are allowing them to develop their mathematical thinking.
The students take charge of their learning and construct personal ideas about mathematics. None of these are simple and rarely will students move through each step consecutively.