Goals - Part 2

My goals in helping children with arithmetic are simple. I want them

  • to be good at solving all different types of word problems,
  • to like solving word problems,
  • to understand the problem solving methods (shortcuts) that they use and
  • to be able to communicate their reasoning to others.

2. What Are The Different Types of Word Problems?

Mathematics educators have various ways of sorting word problems into different categories. I categorize them by how I think that children should be taught to solve them.

By my system, elementary schools typically teach 12 types of word problems. You may be surprised that I identify 2 types of addition problems, 3 types of subtraction problems, 3 types of multiplication problems, and 4 types of division problems.

Click here to see how I taught Trixie to solve one kind of subtraction problem (what I call "Easy Subtraction") and here to see how I taught her to solve another type ("Hard Subtraction 1"). In each case I taught her to make a “model” – but even though these are both subtraction problems, the models for them are different from one another.

You will find the details of how to teach your children to model word problems on the Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division tabs.

Click here to download in PDF format, in a new window, examples of each of the 12 types of word problems.