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Math Lesson Idea: Word Problems


Teach your student to reason with language and to use imagery to translate language into mathematical equations.

  • Paper & pencil.
  • A selection of story problems.
  • white board and dry erase marker

Follow these steps to solve story problems:

  • Read the whole problem.
  • Picture the situation; ask your student to draw or describe it.
  • List the math facts that are known: On one side of a sheet of paper have your student list the math facts that are definite ("What I know"), relevant or otherwise.
  • Now list what needs to be known: in another column, under "What I need to know”, the student should list the question(s) that the problem asks.
  • State the problem in sentence form: ask your student to state the problem in his own words, orally or in writing.
  • Convert the sentence to an equation: The student should cross out the words as they are converted to numbers. This calls attention to which words turn into which operations. For example, the words “more” and “joined” turn into addition when converted to an equation.
  • Now solve the equation, and verify that all items listed under the “Need to know” column are answered.
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