Lesson plan

What's the Problem?

High order thinking skills are critical skills for students of all ages. In this lesson, your students will create word problems about money.
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Word Problem Components pre-lesson.
EL Adjustments
Grade Subject View aligned standards
Need extra help for EL students? Try the Word Problem Components pre-lesson.

Students will be able to create and solve word problems.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments
(5 minutes)
  • Tell the students that today they are going to continue learning about money through word problems.
  • Use an analogy explaining that in life and real-world situations, math is not always a given equation. Rather, it is often in the form of word problems.
  • Explain that if you have 50 cents and go to the store to buy an item for 35 cents, then you have to figure out if there is enough money, how much will be spent, and how much change will be left over.
(10 minutes)
  • Display a sample word problem.
    • Word Problem One: Pedro needs school supplies. Pedro's mom gave him $1.00 to go to the store to buy school supplies. Pedro bought a pencil for 25 cents, paper for 10 cents, and an ice cream bar for 60 cents at the store. How much money did Pedro spend at the store?
  • Explain that in money word problems, there is often a person, a problem, a solution, purchased items with listed prices, and a question to answer.
  • Instruct your students to identify the different components listed above in the word problem.
  • Read the first sample word problem, noting that the person in this problem is Pedro.
  • Continue reading the word problem, and point out that the problem is that Pedro needs school supplies.
  • Read and stop to explain the solution in this problem, which is that Pedro's mom gave him $1.00 to go to the store to purchase school supplies.
  • Note the items that Pedro purchased as well as the price. Point out that Pedro bought a pencil for 25 cents, paper for 10 cents, and an ice cream bar for 60 cents.
  • Re-read the question in this word problem: How much did Pedro spend at the store?
  • Lastly, go through the steps to work out the answer to the question. Remind your students that some questions may require adding, some may require subtracting, and some may even require both adding and subtracting.
  • Tell them to focus on the question and clue word to figure out the required operation.
(15 minutes)
  • Display the second sample word problem.
    • Kya lose her eraser yesterday. Kya has 70 cents left over from her lunch money. Kya went to the school store to buy a new eraser for 40 cents. How much change did Kya get back?
  • Ask students to work in pairs to underline and label the components in the word problem.
  • Have your students identify the person, the problem, the solution, the items purchased along with the listed price, and the question being asked.
  • Direct your students to answer the question.
  • After your students have worked on the problem, label the components in the sample problem and solve the answer to the question on the board with the whole group.
(25 minutes)
  • Explain to your students that they will create money word problems with partners.
  • Display a list of the important components of a word problem, and have your students use them to complete the word problem.
    • Who
    • Problem
    • Solution
    • What did they buy?
    • Question
    • Solution
  • Instruct your students to draw a picture of a person to represent the "who" of the problem.
  • Explain to your students that they will think of a problem for this person. Remind them of the problems that Pedro and Kya faced in the sample word problems.
  • Give your students the Money Math worksheet as an example of potential item prices.
  • Draw several items on the board with prices listed below. For example, the store could have a beach ball for 50 cents, a pencil for 15 cents, a candy bar for 45 cents, etc.
  • Tell your students to use amounts that are less than $1.00 for the solutions in their word problems.


  • Have your students use bills larger than $1.00 in their word problems.


  • Provide students with the sample word problems and a list of questions that they can choose from for their word problems. Have your students complete the Money Math worksheet.
(5 minutes)
  • Walk around and make sure that the items your students are choosing add up to less than one dollar.
  • Encourage your students to create word problems that include more than two objects (two numbers) to add.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask your students to share their word problems with the class, and have the rest of the class solve the problem.

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