Problem Solving is rough. If your kids are like mine, they would rather just add all the numbers in the problem up together. It’s easier than doing all that thinking.
To illustrate my students’ problem with problem solving, I place before you this story.
Thursday and Friday were Kite Day at our school. Kids bring kites. Kids giggle and wiggle and generally ignore their teacher all morning until PE. Kids go out to PE and run around, trying to fly kites in the sadly less-than-normal wind we had last week. Kids come back inside overestimulated and red-faced from racing around, dragging a kite through the dirt behind them. Picture Charlie Brown.
But that isn’t the problem solving part. This is:
I walked toward my classroom from one end of the hallway. My students had been sent in from PE by the hall monitor. As I neared the door, I found them all bunched together, shouting. This is a no way, Jose. We do not shout. Ever. Cause it makes Ms. Beltran nuts.
What were they shouting?“AAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!” and waving their hands in the air. “What is going on?!” I demanded.“We’re all tangled in Jasmine’s kite!!”
They were. They were all tangled in Jasmine’s kite. Tangled? Yes, wrapped up. As in trapped. As in caught in a web of Jasmine’s kite string. My class, the class that I have worked with and dedicated my love and soul to all year, was netted in a string held by a child. They were helpless, like a rat in a trap. Dancing in circles, shouting with their hands in the air were the only things they could think of. It didn’t help.
It took us a while to sort them out. We finally did. I slowly removed a child at a time from the kite trap, with Jasmine giggling diabolically in the background. All right, maybe Jasmine wasn’t giggling diabolically…but she was giggling. There were only about four kids involved, but with the crowd of screaming bystanders, it had initially seemed like more. Also, they were standing right in the doorway, blocking other traffic, so there was a bit of a bottleneck effect.
So anyway, back to problem solving. This week, we were reviewing for The Test. We used various stations to review concepts like 2D shapes, 3D shapes, money, length, fractions, time, and…problem solving! This is the worst, so I had 2 problem solving stations. I was at one and my intern at the other. Lots of guidance. These are some of the things we did.We made this foldable to help them remember how to differentiate between the different operations.
On the front, we sorted cards with the four operations, the action each one represents, and the name of the answer (product, sum, etc.)
I gave the kids a sheet with four word problems on it. They had to read the problem, draw a picture, identify the operation, and glue it inside the correct flap.
On the middle of the inside, we wrote observations (I noticed…) and we recorded some problem solving tips, such as drawing a picture with labels, thinking about the relationships between numbers, and setting a purpose for our problem solving.
We have one more day till The Test. I am not happy about it. But whatever will be will be. We don’t even know what the passing rate will be yet! The state will set it once they decide how many kids they want to fail. Nice, huh. I heart Texas.
Anyway, if you want to do this problem solving activity, and many others (including a fun bonus mad libs-type activity that I’m excited about), you can grab this activity pack at TPT
or Teacher’s Notebook.
Grab this KeyWord sort at TPT!
*Just updated to adjust for the size of the cards so they fit better on the tree map!
Warning! The following is a commercial:
This problem solving activity pack is geared toward 3rd and 4th graders. It includes activities to practice identifying operations and solving one-step word problems with addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Useful for reviewing for state exams!
Addition Problems include adding numbers up to 3 digits
Subtraction Problems include subtracting numbers up to 3 digits
Multiplication up to 2 digit by 1 digit
Division only includes fact families – no remainders
This pack includes…
*Problem Solving Strategy Song
*6 math actions posters
*Keywords Tree Map Sort & sorting cards
*Problem Solving Foldable Directions, Pictures, and cards for students to sort and build foldable
*Problem Solving Sorting Activity: Identify the Operation. 12 Addition/Subtraction Cards, 12 Multiplication/Division Cards & 2 Sorting Mats
*5 pages of problem solving practice (Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Mixed Review) + Answer Key
*Bonus: Create-a-Problem: Mad-Libs like Activity to build problems
Your kiddos are going to be so awesome on THE TEST! All of the great activities that you post have to have stayed with them!
(Hopefully there will be questions about kites on there!!!)
Love it!! Heading over to pick mine up!! We still have about 3 weeks to review for our TEST!! I will use these for sure to help my 3rd grade kiddos! Thanks 😀 Angie
This story is too funny!
Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher