Monday, April 14, 2014

Story Problems

I've mentioned before that I didn't have a great relationship with math as a kid.  This has turned me into a teacher who does absolutely everything in my power to make math not only fun, but also as easy as possible. 

I really wanted to try some story problems with my kiddos. I knew that many of them could do the addition that would be required, and I was pretty sure that a story problem would make a lot more sense to them than just throwing a couple of numbers in front of them and saying "add these".  Before I tried anything I wanted to make sure that I could do it in a way that wouldn't confuse any of them, and would make my intent as clear as possible.  


of course this was the beginning of a new product.  I want to share it with you because I really feel that if I had something like this as a kid, it would've made a world of difference.  These are color coded story problems with corresponding color-coded equation mats.  

 The blue circle represents the student, and it contains the number of cookies that he or she has (according to the story problem). The green circle represents the other child named in the story problem, and it contains the number of cookies that he or she has (according to the story problem). The red circle represents the total number of cookies that both children have. This circle is empty and children can either write in the number or use the included cookie shapes to count out the total number of cookies. 

Each segment of the story problem is written in corresponding colors so that the students can visually see which parts of the sentence belong to which circles. For example “You have 1 cookie” is written in blue, so the student knows that he or she has one cookie, and can then see one cookie in the blue circle. 




We walked through two problems as a class, and then I sat with each child and did the problems with them. They were all able to do this successfully, and they were really proud of themselves too! The set that is available in my store includes cookie pieces that can be cut out and used as counters, but we used salt dough cookies instead.  I inherited these from a former teacher and I love them! The children think they are real, which means they want to use them, and fun little manipulatives make math games so much more interactive. 




These color-coded story problems worked so well that I am already planning a second set - this original set has problems that at up to 5, I would love to do another with larger sums. I'm also trying to figure out how to make this work for subtraction, there has to be a way...

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