Teaching Addition and Subtraction Word Problems to Children

byTanya M. Shannon

Many students have difficulties when attempting to solve word problems. Many reasons are given for the students' lack of success in word problems. These reasons include students' lack of exposure to life outside of television and their neighborhoods, minimal reading skills, and difficulty in comprehension skills. I do not dispute these reasons for students' failure, but I propose that there is a way to ensure that problem solving permeates the mathematics classroom while simultaneously maintaining student interest. This unit will help teachers that are looking to implement strategies that will change the way that students read and understand addition and subtraction word problems. Additionally, it will help teachers to learn the various methods that they can use in order to develop meaningful word problems for all of their students. Although it was written for second grade, these strategies and accompanying appendix of word problems are adaptable for grades one through four.

(Developed for Mathematics, grade 2; recommended for Mathematics, grade 2)

Comments (8)

    Natalie C (Seventh Street Elem, North Little Rock, AR)
    Subject taught: , Grade: K
    Enjoyed this article
    I would like to use this article in a paper that I am writing about the benefits of teaching addition and subtraction through word problems with elementary aged students. I need to know when it was written and if it can be found in a book, or other publication. I want to give credit to the correct person when citing this article. I enjoyed reading this article and have seen improvement in my Kindergarten students understanding of addition and subtraction when problems are posed to them in word problems form.
    Gail Nagle (Haynes Elementary School, Los Angeles, CA)
    Subject taught: Math, Computer Programming
    Helpful examples and categorizations
    This article was very well organized and very helpful. However, I think the fundamental mistake made in attempting to teach all word problems is ignoring the idea that these are really reading comprehension problems. Each problem tells a story. The student needs to first understand the story. Because word problems are repetitive, going over many examples where the emphasis is on the action of the story followed by the computation is the best approach. The child needs to form a visual picture of the story being told. Even now, as an adult, I need to read each problem and parse it to find out what facts are given, what happens and what is being asked. There is no \"formula\" that can be memorized. Drilling related math facts certainly can help. But helping children read the problem with comprehension, I believe, is the best way to help children master word problems.
    MOHD YUSSOFF BINTI NURULHUDHA (SK seri pristana, -, -)
    Subject taught:
    Hi, Im from Malaysia and doing a research on addition and subtraction word problem as well. I would like to cite your article if you have published it before.It would be a great help if you can give me a way to cite your work. Thank you for your time.
    Conlan F (Hillcrest Elementary, Austin, TX)
    Subject taught: , Grade: fi
    great overview
    I found this article to be a well written piece explaining these basic format of addition and subtraction. I now have a better grasp of teaching these concepts. Thank you.
    Heab Hussien Talaat Ali (Kindergaten College, Cairo, Eg)
    Subject taught: word problem, Grade: k
    need your help in teaching kindergarten children word problem
    thank you for sharing your experiences in teaching word problem. I want to make a paper about word problem for kindergarten children. but I can\'t found how to make it and examples for it. So, I need your help to represented in a right way. I need to know how you assist your children. could you send me models or examples to help me in this task. thanks and have a nice time
    Romina Borg (|University of Malta. Europe, Marsascala, Ma)
    Subject taught: Mathematics, Grade: 2
    Which Year was this article written?
    I need to cite this article but I cannot find the year it was written.
    joel masikati (marymount college, Mutare, M)
    Subject taught: , Grade: 4
    i need to cite the author
    ng chu rui (kelang lama, kedah, ma)
    Subject taught: mathematics, Grade: 1
    I would like to use this article in a paper that I am writing about the effectiveness of Bar Modeling in Improving Pupil\'s mathematics word problems solving. I need to know when it was written and if it can be found in a book or other publication. Thank You

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