Word Problems

I just hate the horrified look on kids faces when you read aloud that first math word problem of the year.  You know, the wide-eyed, crooked mouth,and tilted head stance that clearly means  "I thought we were doing math?"  At the beginning of kindergarten this concept can be tough as little learners are just starting to learn about numbers and operations, not to mention that many of them are just starting to learn their letter sounds, yet alone read and understand a few sentences.  But the common core standards state that students should be able to solve addition and subtraction word problems, and add and subtract within 10, e.g., by using objects or drawings to represent the problem."  Yes, I know this is the "end" goal but many math materials start out day 1 with a word problem, so we begin to teach this concept straight away.

So what are some ideas for how to teach this concept?  

Well to start I like to discuss real life examples  of word problems that students solve each day without knowing it.  For example when they eat their morning snack they know they have 4 cookies, after they eat 1, they see they only have 3 left.  Or, maybe they are playing a card game and they have 5 cards, then they win 1 more so now they count and see they have 6 in all.  This simple fact makes the whole idea less scary and kindergarteners love to think of examples of how they solve word problems all day!  If you do this, I suggest creating an "examples in real life" chart where sticky notes can be added as students share out and then add to it as students make connections throughout the day.  Trust me, they will and it will bring a smile to your face.  

Also, I like many teachers, like to solve problems whole class style where a problem is written out on a large sheet and then together as a class we'd read through, understand, mark up, and solve a problem.  It really helps students to draw out the problem and this can be a fun way to get everyone involved.  Remember to share the pen.

And if looking for something a little different, acting the problem out is always a hit!  Read aloud a problem, then together with your class circle the key numbers, question, and math terms.  From these elements act out the scenario to solve the problem.  

Or maybe you're looking for something new?  How about math word problem backgrounds!  Well, a word problem background is a great way to help students solve and create their very own math word problems or math stories.  They can be used whole class, in partners, during small group work, or in centers.  Basically a math word problem background is just that!  A themed background that helps students to solve and create their own word problems.

Here's an example of a Fall themed one I made:

If you like what you see you can purchase the set in my TpT store. Click the picture below to go to my store :)

It includes: 
- How To Sheet
- 1 Fall Themed Background
- 24 Pre-typed word problems: 12 addition (A) 12 subtraction (S)
- 10 Apple & 10 Crow cut out counters
- 2 Student Worksheets (My Own Math Story)
- 1 EDITABLE task card sheet (to type your own word problems)
- 1 EDITABLE student worksheet (to create your own fill in math story)

Remember word problems don't need to be scary just practice, practice, practice, and of course have fun!  Do you have any fun ideas?

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