Lesson plan

Solving Word Problems

Word problems getting you down? Then spread the word on a lesson that will help students decide when to add or subtract, as they identify clue words that aid in solving word problems.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Reflect on the Context First! pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Reflect on the Context First! pre-lesson.

Students will be able to use addition and subtraction to solve word problems.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(10 minutes)
  • Create a scenario to introduce the concept of word problems. For example, say, "I am going to the local zoo and I plan on bringing 11 students with me. Six more students want to join us. How many of us are going to the zoo?"
  • You can have students come to the front of the class in these denominations if you would like.
  • Go over the answer to your created problem.
  • Repeat the activity with a different word problem.
  • Call on different students to answer the problem to promote class participation.
  • Tell students they became a part of a word problem. Ask students to reflect on what word problems are and have a class discussion. Remind the class that a word problem is a situation explained in words that can be solved using math.
(10 minutes)
  • Read You Can, Toucan, Math aloud.
  • During the read aloud, have students identify the operations that are being used for individual word problems. Ask students what clues from the text led them to their answer.
  • Write these word clues on the board:
    • Addition = join, together, more
    • Subtraction = difference, went away, less.
  • Present and read aloud the following word problem: “Six second graders turned in their homework early. Five more students rushed to the homework bin and turned it in. How many second graders turned in their homework?”
  • Ask students to identify the mathematical operation in the word problem and to identify the clue word that led them to their answer.
  • Repeat with a subtraction word problem example.
(10 minutes)
  • Give each student a sheet of lined paper.
  • Display the following word problem: "11 new library books were added to the bookshelf. 4 of the books were checked out by the end of the day. How many new library books remain?"
  • Ask students to solve the following word problem on their paper. Have students explain in writing how they solved the problem. Review student explanations.
  • Display a second word problem: "Four students were waiting in the nurse’s office, and three more students came in. Two were treated by the nurse and returned to class. How many students are waiting to see the nurse?"
  • Have students solve and explain word problem #2 on their paper. Review student explanations.
  • Remind students to look for clue words and important details when solving word problems.
  • Ask students to write their own addition or subtraction word problem. Allow students to share aloud and provide student feedback.
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out the Carnival Count worksheet.
  • Ask students to show their thinking when completing the worksheet.
  • Monitor students while they are working, and assist students who need extra support.

Enrichment: For students who need an extra challenge, provide the Math Ninja worksheet.

Support: For students needing support, provide and go through the Monster Word Problems worksheet in a small group setting.

(10 minutes)
  • To check for understanding, monitor the classroom as students are solving and writing their own word problems.
  • Check the correctness of student worksheets.
  • Assign the Solving Multi-Step Addition Problems Using a Number Line worksheet to assess your students' understanding.
(10 minutes)
  • At the end of the lesson, check and review the in class assignment.
  • Review any missed problems, and show how to solve for better understanding.
  • Ask students to share what they learned in today’s lesson.
  • Introduce the Fish Bowl Addition game to students as a way to practice solving word problems at home.

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