Dinnertime is a place stories are told at my house. One of my favorite storytellers is my husband Matt. When he tells a story, you feel like you are there. Stories are memorable, they can take us to another world, and for mathematics, stories bring context to the abstract. Our world is full of exciting patterns and problems to solve, but our students don’t see the math.
I have heard for years how difficult word problems are for children to understand. Now I know sometimes that is because their reading level may be below grade level, but we need to work around that. Defeat is boring, and we are more creative than that! We are teachers! Stories engage us, so lets use them to lower the affective filter in our students and make them engage with word problems, maybe even write their own. Writing, reading, and doing math… we would be integrating curriculum. (WOW, I love when I get more for my money!)
Here are the four scenes for Decomposing/Composing. You can click here to learn more about this addition and subtraction situation. I have used color to distinguish sets of pencils and flowers. I just printed them on two different colors of card stock.
In my previous post on making word problems more engaging, I used the same names as I do in this post. One of the reasons I used the same names and just changed the situations was so that students that struggled with reading could memorize it. When I sat at a table working with kindergarteners, I was amazed how quickly they memorized the sentence frames for the activity!
Each story gives students an analogy (structure) that eventually will connect to other analogies and create an understanding of how stories are represented in the different situations for addition and subtraction. In other words, as students hear the different addition and subtraction situations, they will see the common language in the situations and be able to slowly change names and situations and build their own word problems.
Children love to use their imaginations! Let’s harness their imaginations, so that they can learn addition and subtraction too! So invite the four characters Trevon, Maya, Bobby, and Jada to be a part of your classrooms and tell some math stories.
How have you harnessed a child’s imagination to teach word problems?