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# Math help! 3rd grade story problems

Posted by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 11:57 PM
• 6 Replies
So dd does great in math but struggles setting up story problems on her own. She often tells me shes not sure what to do,but if I help her set it up she does it fine. Heres an example of a problem today:

Find the cost of 27ft of wood if each yard costs \$4.63.

So she was to convert ft into yards. Then times. She did it when I told her convert and times,but didnt know how to set it up herself.How do I help her understand word problems better?

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by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 11:57 PM
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Replies (1-6):
by on May. 1, 2012 at 1:12 AM
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I always explained it as, what are they trying to figure out, what info did they give you, and what info do you still need.

So they want to know the cost of all the wood. We know how many feet of wood and how mut costs by the yard. We can't do anything until we match the measurement, so the 27 feet needs to be converted....and you know the rest.

Some kids just have a hard time with story problems - they drive me nuts because most of them aren't practical, but what are you going to do?

Instead of helping her set it up, ask leading questions so it forces her to come up with the connection on her own.

by on May. 1, 2012 at 7:48 AM

My children are now grown, but I still tutor, and give workshops to home educators and teachers.

Studies show children learn best when you involve their body and mind in the learning process...Instead of doing it on paper, make it experiential.  For example: have her measure a 6' board with a 12" ruler, and then with a yard stick.  Ask her to tell you (and write it down) how many feet, and how many yards in that board. Ask her how many feet in a yard. If she can't tell you, ask her to measure the yard stick with the ruler (how many rulers/ feet in that yard stick). Then ask her to figure out the cost of that board if the price was 4.63 per yard.  You will likely have to do this sort of exercise several times with her, but eventually she will make the connection.

I have had children measure family shoes, and then use the shoes to measure the room.

The whole idea is to FIRST get them to make the brain connection between inches, feet and yards by using play and real life experience. After she has mastered that, it is fairly easy to add the money element by purchasing play money...pretend with her that she is at a lumber store purchasing six 6' boards for her daddy to make a doll house.  You might even decide a trip to Home Depot would benifit her.

by on May. 1, 2012 at 8:43 AM
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I have always taught word problems by teaching the kids to underline & circle important parts.

So first the student needs to circle the command - what are they being asked to do?
-- in this instance she would circle 'find the cost'
Next she needs to underline what she HAS. -
-- in this instance she has 27 feet of wood
Now she can put a squiggly line under the Tricks, these are the things that need to be done to he HAS in order to get the Command.
-- in this instance it's each yard = \$4.63
Lastly she needs to draw a square around the measures (this will help clarify if there needs to be a conversion.
-- so in this instance she draws a box around Feet in the HAS section and Yards in the TRICKS.
Now she can put this information together. We know how much wood we have in total, but it's in feet and we only know how much it costs by the yard. We only know the cost of 1 yard, so we need to apply it to all the yards we have in order to determine the TOTAL

This should teach her to look at each word problem in stages. This will also teach her to ignore the extra information sometimes included in word problems. As math gets more advanced the get to be more and more tricks, convsion or even surpurfluous information. The underline technique is just teaching her to do the problem in steps

1) What are we trying to do (here we are finding cost, so i know the answer will be in \$) this will help you determine exactly what you need to do to get the answer (sum, difference, etc)
2) what details do we have
3) what things will affect or trick you (you need to factor these things in in order to get the right answer)
4) apply the things from #3 to those in #2
5) apply the adjusted information from #4 to the command from #1
Et voila!

Does that make sense?
by on May. 1, 2012 at 10:34 AM
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Most kids have problems with them because it is abstract & they need it to be real so make it real like romacox said!

by on May. 1, 2012 at 10:52 AM

how old is she, practice practice,

what i used for the kids was to make it more real, turn it into a hands on problem

and as they are reading the word problems i would have them underline the important parts , write it in problem form as they read it

(i still have problems with some of those!)

by on May. 1, 2012 at 12:44 PM
She is 7 1/2. She def knows how many feet are in a yard. Its the do I times or divide to get the answer, most of the time. I think I will try to have her draw pictures to visualize it too. And some other suggestions. Thanks everyone. Its the only thing she has problems with.

Quoting oredeb:

how old is she, practice practice,

what i used for the kids was to make it more real, turn it into a hands on problem

and as they are reading the word problems i would have them underline the important parts , write it in problem form as they read it

(i still have problems with some of those!)

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