Painless Problem Solving Daily Routine

by Learning Harbor Resources for Teachers
Grades K - 3

Wouldn't it be great if your students were excited about problem solving every day? Wouldn't it be wonderful if your students thought that problem solving was FUN?  Wouldn't you love to see your students engaged in problem solving?  


This is a classroom tested problem solving routine. We solve two problems a day. On any one day both of the problems are the same type. The types are listed below. First one problem is projected onto a screen and it is acted out by students and worked together as a whole class. The second problem is read and discussed as a whole class and then worked individually or by partners using manipulates, drawing pictures, or using math strategies that the students have learned. It is important for first graders to solve four types of math word problems.

  • Add To, or Join
  • Take From, or Separate
  • Put Together / Take Apart/ or Part, Part, Whole
  • Compare 
The term Compare is used in both Cognitively Guided Instruction  and Common Core Standards. The terms Join, Separate, and Part, Part, Whole are used in Cognitively Guided Instruction. The terms Add To, Take From, and Put Together / Take apart are used in Common Core Standards.

These are my tried and true methods of teaching problem solving. This works well for whole class or for guided math groups.  Below is a list of the activities I use.  After that, is an example using each type of problem.
  • Project a grade level appropriate word problem on a white board or screen.  This should not be a worksheet. Task cards work well because the students will be concentrating on only one problem at a time.
  •  After reading the problem together, I choose students to act out the problem.
  • We reread the problem and students work the problem on wipe off white boards.
I project a new problem of the same type, and we read and discuss the problem as a class.The students solve the problem on a wipe off board or paper.  Students may draw a picture, use manipulatives such as cubes or counters. or us  math strategies that they have learned. 
                                                         Add to, or Join
Kate had 5 flowers.  Julie gave Kate 2 more flowers.  How many flowers did Kate have altogether?
I call two girls two the front of the class. One will play the part of Kate and the other will play the part of Julie. Kate will pick up 5 plastic or paper flowers. Julie will give Kate 2 more flowers. Kate will lay all the flowers on a table and will lead the students in counting the flowers and find the sum of 7. I will project a new Add to, or Join problem.  We will read the problem as a group and discuss it. Students will solve the problem on a wipe off board. Students may draw a picture or use manipulatives such as cubes or counters, or use a math strategy to solve the problem.
Take From, or Separate
Liam had 10 pumpkins.  He gave 2 pumpkins to Jack.  How many pumpkins did Liam have left? 
I will pick two boys to come to the front of the class. One will play the part of Liam and the other will play the part of Jack. Liam will pick up ten small plastic or paper pumpkins and lay them on the table so that the students can see them. Liam will give Jack 2 pumpkins. Liam will lead the students in counting to find the difference of 8. Students may draw a picture or use manipulatives such as cubes or counters to solve the problem.
Put Together/ Take Apart, or Part, Part, Whole
Mrs. Brown had 12 cupcakes.  6 were chocolate and the rest were vanilla. How many were vanilla? 
I would pick one girl to play the part of Mrs. Brown.  She would have 12 plastic or paper cupcakes. She would move 6 away from the group and lead the class in counting how many were left to find a difference of 6. I would then project a new Put Together / Take Apart , Part, Part, Whole problem.  We will read the problem as a group and discuss it. Students will solve the problem on a wipe off board. Students may draw a picture or use manipulatives such as cubes or counters or use a math strategy to solve the problem.  to solve the problem.
                                                              Compare
Matt had 6 balloons.  Kevin had 5 more balloons than Matt.  How many balloons did Matt have?
I will pick two boys to come to the front of the class. One will play the part of Matt and the other will play the part of Kevin. Matt would have six real or paper balloons. Matt would put his balloons on a table. Kevin would add his 5 balloons to the same table.  Kevin would lead the students in counting the balloons to come up with a total of 11 balloons. I would then project a new Compare problem  We will read the problem as a group and discuss it.  Students will solve the problem on a wipe off board. Students may draw a picture or use manipulatives such as cubes or counters or use a math strategy to solve the problem.
                                                               FUN TIP
I make name tags of the names used in the problems for the students acting out the problem.  I make a big deal out of saying something like, "The part of Mrs. Brown, will be played today by Anna" in my best dramatic voice.  The kids LOVE it. Students look forward to this math problem solving time. They LOVE to be chosen to act out the problem.  It is great to have them love problem solving.
                                             BEST RESOURCE SOLUTION
Would you like to try this, but don’t have the time to write out those problems, or identify the type of and sort the problem from materials that you have?   Check out this resource.  It has 20 problems with a fall/ autumn theme. The problems are grouped so that there are always two of each type together.  Just what you need to save time in your already busy schedule.
This resource is available in Google Classroom™ or PowerPoint.


  



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1 comment

  1. What a wonderful activity for your students. Problem solving is so important and will impact them for the rest of their lives. Thanks very much for sharing.

    ReplyDelete

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