Math Problem Solving Strategies (solutions, examples, videos)

You are being redirected .

  • About
  • Products
  • Learning Blog
  • Events
  • Store

Recent Posts

  • Actual Minds, Possible Worlds [Book Review]
  • Math Manipulatives Aren’t Just for “Little Kids”
  • How and When to Take a “Math Break”
  • Twice Exceptional Learners [New Research]
  • Mastering the Math-U-See Math Test

Categories

  • Apps & Technology
  • Art
  • Back to School
  • Book Review
  • Curated
  • Demme Learning
    • KinderTown
    • Math-U-See
    • Spelling You See
    • Tales from Customer Service
  • Education
  • Encouragement
  • Guest Post
  • History
  • Homeschooling
    • Homeschool Basics
  • Math
    • Activities
    • Games
    • Real-World Math
  • Parental Engagement Series
    • Arts & Culture
    • Civic Engagement
    • Digital Citizenship
    • Generational Learning
    • History
    • Math
    • Nature
    • Parental Engagement
    • Reading
    • Social Justice
    • Work
    • Writing
  • Reading
  • Review
  • Special Needs
  • Spelling
    • Activities
    • Games
  • Teaching Tips
  • Uncategorized
  • Writing

Archives

  • October 2018
  • September 2018
  • August 2018
  • July 2018
  • June 2018
  • May 2018
  • April 2018
  • March 2018
  • February 2018
  • January 2018
  • December 2017
  • November 2017
  • October 2017
  • September 2017
  • August 2017
  • July 2017
  • June 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • January 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • October 2016
  • September 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • June 2016
  • May 2016
  • April 2016
  • March 2016
  • February 2016
  • January 2016
  • December 2015
  • November 2015
  • October 2015
  • September 2015
  • August 2015
  • July 2015
  • June 2015
  • May 2015
  • April 2015
  • March 2015
  • February 2015
  • January 2015
  • December 2014
  • November 2014
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • July 2014

Search

← Blog home

3 Problem-Solving Math Activities

This entry was posted on by Scottie Altland .

Try some of these easy and fun problem-solving math activities with your student today!

A problem is simply a “problem” because there is no immediate, known solution. Problem solving activities in mathematics extend well beyond traditional word problems . You can provide your student with activities that promote application of math skills while “busting boredom” at the same time! Puzzles and riddles, patterns, and logic problems can all be valuable exercises for students at all levels of mathematics. By engaging in short, fun activities like these, you can help your student become a more skillful, resilient, and successful problem-solver.

When practicing problem-solving skills, be certain to give your student time to explore a problem on her own to see how they might get started. Then discuss their approach together. It is important to provide support during the problem-solving process by showing that you value their ideas and helping them to see that mistakes can be useful. You can do this by asking open-ended questions to help your student gain a starting point, focus on a particular strategy, or help see a pattern or relationship. Questions such as, “What have you done before like this?”, “What can be made from …?” or “What might happen if you change…?” may serve as prompts when they needs inspiration.

Try the activities below to boost your student’s problem-solving skills.

Download the activities here .

3 Problem-Solving Math Activities

1) Toothpick Puzzles

Toothpick puzzles (also referred to as matchstick puzzles) provide students a visualization challenge by applying their knowledge of basic geometric shapes and orientations. The only supplies you need are a box of toothpicks, a workspace, and a puzzle to solve. The goal is for students to transform given geometric figures into others by adding, moving, or removing toothpicks. These puzzles range in complexity and can be found online or in math puzzle books. As an extension, challenge your student to create their own puzzle for someone else to solve.

Sample toothpick puzzles of varying difficulty:

Toothpick puzzles (also referred to as matchstick puzzles) provide students a visualization challenge by applying their knowledge of basic geometric shapes and orientations.

Download solutions to this activity here.

2) Fencing Numbers

The goal of this activity is to create a border or “fence” around each numeral by connecting dots horizontally and vertically so that each digit is bordered by the correct number of line segments.

Print a sheet of dot paper .

Use pencils and scissors to cut the size grid you want to use.

This game can be modified for abilities by adjusting the size of the grid and amount of numerals written. For example, a beginning student might begin with a grid that is 5 x 5 dots with a total of four numerals, while a more advanced student might increase the grid to 7 x 7 dots with six to eight numerals.

Begin by writing the digits 0, 1, 2, and 3 spread repeatedly in between “squares” on the dot paper. Each digit represents the number of line segments that will surround that square. For instance, a square that contains a 3 would have line segments on three sides, and a square that contains a 2 would have line segments on two sides, and so on. See the example boards and solutions for a 5 x 5 grid below.

Beware; there may be multiple solutions for the same problem! Thus, encourage your student to replicate the same problem grid multiple times and look for different solutions. A more advanced student can be challenged to create their own problem. Can they make a grid with only one solution? Is it possible to make a problem with four or more possible solutions?

The goal of this activity is to create a border or “fence” around each numeral by connecting dots horizontally and vertically so that each digit is bordered by the correct number of line segments.

BONUS DOWNLOAD: Download free addition facts songs, coloring pages, and activities.

3) It’s Knot a Problem!

Exercise lateral thinking skills– solving a problem through an indirect and creative approach that is not immediately obvious. You need two people, two pieces of string (or yarn) about one meter long each (or long enough so the person who will wear it can easily step over it), and some empty space to move around. If possible, use two different colored pieces of string. Each person needs a piece of string with a loop tied in both ends so it can be worn like “handcuffs”. Before tying off the loop on the second wrist, the participants loop the string around each other so they are hooked together. The figure below illustrates how the strings should appear when completed.

The goal is to unhook the strings while following these guidelines:

1) The string must remain tied and may not be removed from either participant’s wrists.
2) The string cannot be broken, cut, or damaged in any way.

Caution! This activity not only tests problem-solving skills, but it also promotes positive communication, teamwork, and persistence.

Exercise lateral thinking skills– solving a problem through an indirect and creative approach that is not immediately obvious.

Problem-solving skills are not always taught directly but often learned indirectly through experience and practice. When incorporating problem solving activities aim to make them open-ended and playful to keep your student engaged. Incorporating fun activities like these from time to time foster creative and flexible thinking and can help your student transfer problem solving skills to other subject areas. By providing guidance and helping your student to see a problem from different perspectives, you will help foster a positive disposition towards problem-solving. As your student continues to learn how to effectively solve problems, they increase their understanding of the world around them and develop the tools they need to make decisions about the way they approach a problem.

Download solutions to this activity here.

Free Math Facts Music  Activities

Songs, music, and rhyme are all helpful tools to aid students with math facts. Download some math songs to sing while you’re outside! There are also activities for when the weather doesn’t lend itself to outside math.

To access your free math facts practice tools, please provide the following information.

SongColoring PageSheet Musicmp3
Adding +9 Adding +9 Coloring Page Adding +9 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Adding +8 Adding +8 Coloring Page Adding +8 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Adding Doubles Adding Doubles Coloring Page Adding Doubles Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Adding Doubles +1 Adding Doubles +1 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Making 10 Making 10 Coloring Page Making 10 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Making 9 Making 9 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Extras 3+5, 4+7, 5+7 Extras 3+5, 4+7, 5+7 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Skip Counting 2 Skip Counting 2 Coloring Page Skip Counting 2 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Skip Counting 3 Skip Counting 3 Coloring Page Skip Counting 3 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Skip Counting 4 Skip Counting 4 Coloring Page Skip Counting 4 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Skip Counting 5 Skip Counting 5 Coloring Page Skip Counting 5 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Skip Counting 6 Skip Counting 6 Coloring Page Skip Counting 6 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Skip Counting 7 Skip Counting 7 Coloring Page Skip Counting 7 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Skip Counting 8 Skip Counting 8 Coloring Page Skip Counting 8 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Skip Counting 9 Skip Counting 9 Coloring Page Skip Counting 9 Sheet Music Your browser does not support the audio element.
Activity
Adding +9 Adding +9 Activities
Adding +8 Adding +8 Activities
Adding Doubles Adding Doubles Activities
Adding Doubles +1 Adding Doubles +1 Activities
Making 10 Making 10 Activities
Making 9 Making 9 Activities
Extras 3+5, 4+7, 5+7 Extras 3+5, 4+7, 5+7 Activities
Skip Counting Skip Counting Activities

Download free songs, activities, coloring pages, and more to help your students learn math facts!



About Scottie Altland

Scottie is an Elementary Curriculum Specialist at Demme Learning. Scottie is a certified elementary educator with specialties in math and curriculum development. Previously, Scottie taught grades 5-8 in public schools and worked for a local non-profit organization, offering families and students a broad range of family life education programs. As a mother of two, she enjoys spending time with her family, is an outdoor enthusiast, and continues to love teaching and learning.


Leave a Reply Cancel reply