As a teacher, you know that two-step word problems can be tricky for third and fourth graders. But with a little bit of creativity, you can make teaching them fun!
Here are tips to get your students engaged and excited about solving two-step word problems.
Always Begin With A Quick Review of One-Step Word Problems
Before you start teaching your students two-step word problems, review one-step word problems with them. This will provide a foundation for the more complex problems they’ll be solving later on.
To make it fun, try using children’s literature to review one-step word problems for various operations. There are tons of great books out there that can help make math time fun!
Using children’s literature can help students recognize which words represent different operations.
Make Your Two-Step Word Problem Lessons Hands-On and Exciting!
Use concrete materials
When it comes to teaching two-step word problems, one of the best things you can do is incorporate concrete materials into your lesson. (Hello SNACKS and CANDY!)
This will help your students visualize the problem and see it as something other than a bunch of numbers on a page.
Plus, using concrete materials is just plain old fun!
Of course, if you don’t want to use edible materials, regular math manipulatives will do.
Don’t forget, to kids, this is like getting to use toys during their math lesson!
Draw with crayons, colored pencils, or markers
Another way to make your two-step problem lesson more hands on is to have your students draw a picture of the problem.
(Encourage them to just draw quick stick figures to represent any people…after all, it’s math time, not art time!)
Model this on the white board so students get an idea of how detailed their drawings should be. (Hint–keep it simple!)
Make a math menu
Design a restaurant-style menu with different-priced food as meal options.
Students choose foods from the menu, create two-step word problems, and solve them to find the total cost of their “meal.”
This is a great way to practice two-step word problems that involve multiplying and then adding.
Act it out
Another fun idea is to have them act out the problem with their bodies! The options are endless—get creative!
Use fun interactive digital lessons
Interactive digital lessons can be another hands-on way to practice 2-step word problems.
In the lesson pictured below, students move astronauts to represent the problem. You can make this fun by displaying it on an interactive smart board in your classroom.
Use Math Templates or Graphic Organizers
If you’re looking for a way to give your students structure when solving two-step word problems, math templates or graphic organizers can be a great option.
These tools provide scaffolding that can help your students as they work through the problem-solving process. Plus, they’re flexible enough to be used with any type of problem.
A graphic organizer can help students break the problem into steps and think about which operation is required for each step.
Encourage Them to Persevere
Solving two-step word problems can be challenging, so it is important to encourage your students to persevere when they are struggling.
Let them know that it is okay to make mistakes and that they will get better with practice!
Looking for Resources to Help You Teach Two-Step Word Problems?
Originally published: 10/14/2022