• Janise

Teaching word problems in Kindergarten

I found a few helpful ideas I want to consider when teaching word problems to Kindergartners. I came across a sample problem during case studies about a child who could not put an equation together from a words only problem. Kindergarten is when they are introduced to word problems and I wanted to find ways they introduce this topic to them.

Here is what I found: Kindergarten is when some students come in knowing math already and some don't. Sometimes the one who knows the math, does not have a relational understanding but they "have a habit of thinking before acting."

The article talks about paying attention to students that jump into computing which can breed careless mistakes instead of taking to time to realize that they need to read carefully and strategize. "Relational thinking helps our students discover the relationships between quantities rather than finding the result of operations." Using manipulatives are very important: Bar models, ten frames, number bonds, chips, counters, snap cubes, are  just a few.

Advice from the article "It is VERY important to teach number bonds first with part-part-whole relationships. When practicing word problems, make sure to mix it up a bit... If you present your students with the same type of word problem on a page, they might be challenged by the first problem on the page, but will soon realize that the same procedure can be used for all the others. They will not be using their relational thinking, but doing a routine application of the same algorithms."


I also wanted to find acronyms to give to students to help them know what to do when they are reading math word problems. Here are a few that I found: (My intention is to give it to Kindergartners to glue or staple to the inside of their notebooks as a cheat sheet)

I thought it was very important to note that 'yes', students will come in with different great language experiences and that some of the best things I can do is make sure that the language I use is simple, has no jargon, is easy to understand, is easily accessible and the focus is on the content. Below I inserted the posters I will create with the students.

Here is an online game that is suitable for children to practice word problems: It's not Facebook, It's not MySpace, it's BMF, Best Math Friends. Friend as many animated animals as you can by answering their word problems.


I also found an online interactive game that helps children practice addition word problems.


Repetition is key. Creating a song will be helpful. Having them create a word problem about something they needed to do last week. I can play a game with them where two teams guess the key words and whoever gets the most wins. I can play a game with them where if someone says a keyword they hear someone say, then that person will get a point. They can create a story for an equation using only the words that make that equation so only subtracting words to create a story and more.