We all have studied sentences and math problems in school, but the amalgamation of digits and these sentences can bewilder many students. Math word problems, often about the various mathematical operations, can leave the little learners at sea because of the complexity and the way the problems are presented.
But at the same time, these word problems teach the student volumes about the concept and how to apply the operation in real and practical life. Hence, learning them cannot be bypassed. Then how do you inculcate these math word problems in a facile manner?
Activities can be a great way to do so! These are capable of improving and upskilling the ability of the kids to analyze and evaluate these word problems in a fun and engaging manner. Hence, in this article, we bring to you the various activities that you can employ next time either during activity hours or during classroom teaching!
Math word problems: A testing concept?
The question is, what makes word problems so challenging and confusing? There are several reasons why word problems are confusing, such as extra words, numbers, and descriptions that do not seem related to the question. Children often find reading the whole question and comprehending the information complicated. Also, another difficult part is evaluating the question and understanding which operation is required by the question.
There is no particular formula to do word problems. Each question would require the child to analyze the situation and attempt accordingly.
But, it also becomes crucial to understand why are word problems integral and imperative for kids?
- Word problem questions enhance the analytical and critical skills of children.
- It also gives them real-world questions which explain how addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are applicable in practical life.
- It is important for children to learn how to comprehend data and accordingly solve it.
- It strengthens the problem-solving skills of the student. Just like they solve the word problems in a logical manner, the children understand how to apply logic in various other situations.
- Word problems also enhance creativity as it often requires the student to imagine the situation and then solve it.
Math word problem activities to help your child learn better & different
1. Candy counting
Kids love candies! Just the name of candy is enough to grab their attention. So what better activity would involve these tasty treats! To begin with, the teacher distributes candies to the children. After this, the teachers would have to tell the students to add or subtract the candies on the basis of the word problem given.
For example, if a word problem states that there were 10 apples, out of which 4 got rotten, how many are left. The kids would now have to lay down 10 candies, and remove 4 from them, to get the answer. This would help them get the answer to the word problem.
Being an inceptive activity, students here may deal with smaller numbers. For large numbers, this may be slightly twisted by asking the student to draw them instead. Through this activity, kids are able to evaluate how the concepts are used in real life. It is an interesting way of making them understand the core of word problems.
2. Using Visual graphics & Videos
The impact that visuals have is much more as compared to when reading a book. In this activity, the teacher starts by showing videos of word problems. Whatever they are reading in the book is shown in the form of a video as if they are watching a movie. This entices the kids, and they watch it as a form of entertainment.
Luckily, we live in a world where due to digitalization, a lot of content is available on streaming platforms like YouTube. One search about kids’ word problems can give you the exact video, which would be ideal for the age of the student.
The teachers can also select a handful of videos beforehand and form questions on the basis of the videos. Later, the educators can ask kids to solve the problem and then show the video so that they can get to know where they are making a mistake.
This helps the kids in forming a story in their minds when they are reading a question. Story formation through imagination helps to understand the question better. This makes it much easier to analyze and implement the concepts in answering the question.
3. Piggy banks
In this activity, the teacher or parents use the money to make the child understand and solve money-related word problems. Children are given boxes of coins in this activity. Each child has a box with coins in it. Now, the instructor gives them a real-life situation. For instance, if chocolate and an eraser cost 20 cents each, then how much do you need to buy both of them? They use the coins to calculate and give out the answer. Further, this can be later be made complicated by asking them questions with multiple items or increasing the size of numbers.
They accordingly then apply the foundational concepts to it. After applying the operations, the end result is the answer to the question.
This way of learning will teach them in a very practical way. The idea of learning through actual money will excite them and they will take interest in learning which in turn makes understanding easier for them. They will also have an understanding of how money is used in the real world.
4. Drawing symbols
Kids are able to understand better when they see images. Image has a stronger impact on them. In this activity, the teacher asks the children to draw symbols after reading the question. The symbols vary for each word problem.
Say, the teacher asks the student If one basket can hold 10 oranges then how many oranges are there in 3 baskets. To solve this, the little one can draw 3 baskets with ten oranges in each of them and count them to understand the procedure completely (here the answer is 30). The teacher can evaluate the sheet of answers and then gives feedback to improve.
Drawing pictures is a great way of solving problems easily when the student can’t do math mentally. Visual pictures would let go of any confusion they have after reading the question and would sort it in an organized way.
5. Grocery task cards
The teacher in this activity makes cards of grocery items with their amount. Then they give a list to the children of the groceries they need to buy along with the quantity of each item. Children always get excited to do stuff elders do and want to try it. When they get an activity of buying groceries they will be extremely tempted by it. They would then use the cards to purchase grocery items as per the word problem.
This activity can be crafted into a role play-act in the classroom. For instance, a few students are made as shopkeepers and rate tags for each item may be determined. Now, a few students are handed over the responsibility to buy items within the budget given. To make this further complicated, a task card may also be given to the students.
This is specifically helpful for children who get confused in complicated word problems of quantity and price, including more than two items.
6. Spin the circle
To begin with, the teacher makes a circle with ten numbers on it and a sheet of paper with 10 questions on it. Now, one student is called upon and is asked to spin the circle. Now, the student can see that the circle depicts one number. The student needs to check out the sum of that no, and solve it on the board.
For instance, if a pupil gets 5 on a circle, this means they need to solve the 5th sum on the board. This activity ensures to give random questions to the students to assist them in the revision of multiple topics. Further, other learners who may have doubts about that sum may get them clear from the solution on the board.
7. Forming stories
The formation of stories when reading a word problem makes the situation understandable in an organized way.
To start this activity, the mentor gives out a word problem to the learner. Now, the pupil is asked to draw the scene as per the word problem. For instance, a pencil and two pens are to be purchased, then the learner needs to start off with drawing the items and then write rate tags to it. Now, they can calculate the values as depicted by questions. This way, the pragmatic essence of these sums is highlighted.
This activity improves their thinking skills and helps them in evaluating a particular situation. It also makes them more creative as they are constantly making stories. It is also a systematic way that will reduce any sort of confusion in their mind.
8. Work with Team
Teamwork often makes learning or problem-solving easier with multiple minds being indulged. The same advantage is highlighted in this activity.
To start with, the teacher creates a scenario in which the learners need to traverse through. For instance, a set up of an office may be made with different numbers, fees, and other attributes. Students are divided into groups of 3. Now, each team has to go through the setup to complete the activity.
For instance, the team is given 5 dollars. Now, they have to go to the office, pay some fees and then move on to buy tickets for a movie. The learners go through each stage and calculate values at each stage. Each area where they calculate may be crafted as a word problem to ensure practice.
This activity is often handy for teachers to create an enticing aura to practice. Further, getting into real-life scenarios is often intriguing for the students to keep on engagement for longer durations.
9. Sorting tasks
In this activity, a number of word problem questions are given to children. Now, children have to sort these questions into 4 different groups for each mathematical operation. If a question requires two operations it will be added to two different groups. There are four jars with different colors that are made for the students to group the questions. The student puts the sticker of each question in their respective jar.
This sorting activity will help the students identify each question type. The most difficult part of word problems is identifying the operation or operations that are needed to solve them. This activity will help them differentiate each question type from one another.
10. Cookie multiplication
Kids love art and craft. Understanding word problems can be done through art and craft. In this activity, the students may be turned into bakers and certain word problems are given to them as a part of their responsibilities.
To start with, the teacher may procure caps, and other attire of a baker along with a sheet of paper and some cookies cut out of cardboard for the learner. This way, an aura of bakery may be formed. When the little ones are ready to start, they are given work in the form of word problems. For instance, Mary ordered 40 cookies, but she wanted them to be packed for 5 people. How many cookies need to be packed in each box? The learner will solve this problem with the manipulatives and give out answers on the sheet for the teacher to evaluate.
This activity helps them to develop knowledge in all sorts of operations word problems in a very fun way wherein they use manipulatives where needed.
Mathematics can be made into a fun learning subject whose anxiety if any may be effortlessly mitigated with enticing strategies. The key to increasing student engagement and achievement is to make learning fun. Word problems are based on real-life situations, and hence the activities should also be based on practical life, which seems attractive to the students. This practical way makes them understand the application of concepts.
These activities keep them stimulated and interested in the questions rather than the same monotonous way of learning. These activities also contribute to the overall growth and development of children as they become more interactive. Teachers and parents may prefer to add these activities to a child’s routine as a practice to make a reasonable development with numbers.