Pirate problems

Mathematical word problems can be a very daunting proposition for some children but with the right strategies their mysteries can be unlocked.

The issue that children often have with word problems is that it is not always obvious what is expected of them. The words cause a brain fog and often they will launch into the calculation too soon and then become confused.

Explain that the key to solving problems is choosing the correct operations to use and understanding the vocabulary. The more problems they tackle the easier they will become. Use the ‘Pirate problem’ resource and solve them as a class or individually.

A useful strategy when tackling word problems with your class is to create some together. This demystifies the vocabulary and allows children to see the calculation hidden within the words. Start by asking for a number between 1 and 20. Write the number on the whiteboard. Ask for another number and write that on the board too. Ask the children what operation they would like to use.

Write out the calculation.

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