Mathematics, Problem Solving

Grade 1- 3

Students learn a three-step process to solve word problems.

Introduce the following information and examples to students.

A word problem tells about related facts and then asks a question. A fact is information that is true. A question is something that is asked and needs an answer.

The first step to solving a word problem is to read the problem a few times to find out the facts and the question. Look for words in the problem that may give clues about whether to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. This will help to find the answer. Some of the words follow.

Addition: addends, all together, in all, many, more, sum, total

Subtraction: difference, fewer, left, many, more

Multiplication: factor, groups, how many, in all, multiple, product

Division: group, how many, in all, quotient, remainder, separate

The second step to solving a word problem is to name the words that give you clues about whether to add, subtract, multiply, or divide to solve the word problem.

Give students the following examples and ask if they know what they would need to do to solve the problem.

David has 15 baseball cards. His brother gave him 15 more baseball cards. How many in all?

In the football game, Anthony scored 12 points. Then he scored 18 more points. What was the total number of points he scored?

The third step to solving a word problem is to draw a picture to show the solution, or use real items to solve the problem. In the following example, you could draw apples or use real ones.

Alyssa picked three baskets of apples. Each basket had 14 apples. How many apples were there in all?

The final step to solving a word problem is to look at the drawing or real-life example, write out the math sentence that it represents, and solve the problem. For the apple problem, this step would be

14 + 14 + 14 = 42 apples

Distribute copies of the Drawing Word Problems activity sheet to students and have them follow the steps to solve the problems on the page.

- Drawing Word Problems activity sheet (one per student)
- pencils