I am a firm believer that in order to be successful in school you must be successful in reading and writing. Children should be reading and writing whenever and wherever possible. However, another topic that often gets pushed to the side in the race to teach a child how to read is Math. In first grade, math is done every day for at least an hour and then it also comes up at random times during other subjects in the day. One of the most challenging math activities for a first grader is to come up with a simple story problem or word problem for a given set of numbers. Sounds easy, right? Well, to a first grader it is anything but easy. They hear the word story and they do create a story, but it usually has nothing to do with the numbers that you have asked for a story about. You could also call it a word problem, but the results are the same. Try this story problem activity at home with your child.
- You pick a number from 3-10.
- For example, 5.
- Ask your child to think of 2 numbers that will equal 5 when added together. (Example 2 and 3) Your child may need beans or some other type of counter to figure this out.
- Now, work with your child and help them to create a very SIMPLE story problem with the numbers 2, 3, and 5.
- Sample: There were 2 frogs sitting on a rock. Along came 3 more frogs. Now there are 5 frogs sitting on the rock.
- Tomorrow, do it again with 5 but this time accept a different combination of numbers that will equal 5 and the story HAS to be different. (good practice!)
- Keep working with the number 5 until all possible addition sentences have been explored. Then, and only then, move on to another number.
Your child’s first grade teacher will teach lots about story problems and word problems but if your child has had some background experience with the terms, it will not be as stressful for him/her when he/she hears the terminology at school.