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Math Word Problems Your Students Will Love

Students often struggle with word problems in math class. Even students that do well with math operations may find some challenge with the reading element in math. Rather than simply use math word problems from textbooks, try these engaging ways to introduce math word problems your students will love! 

Numberless Word Problems

Try using numberless word problems to put the focus on operations and strategies. Take the numbers out of general word problems and have your students write out the process and operation. When it comes to word problems, understanding what information needs to be used and the operations used to solve the problem is key. The numbers can be secondary. If students can explain how they get to an answer, the numbers may be added later. Once they understand the process, they are more likely to get the answer when the numbers enter the equations. Numberless word problems are a powerful strategy that students enjoy and teachers are using in elementary and secondary math classrooms.

Math Word Problems with Student Names

When students see their names in math problems (or any class exercises, for that matter), they get excited! Take turns putting different student names and even add relevant student interests. For example, Annie practices her clarinet for 35 minutes. Juanita practices her flute twice as long. How many minutes does Juanita practice her flute? 

To make the activity low risk, ask for students to opt-out if they don’t want their names used. Most students will want to participate, but some students may be shy about having their name used in problems. 

Student Created Problems

In addition to using student names, another way to personalize math word problems is to have students write their own! Give the students an operation, variables, or even a general topic, and have them create their own problems. Switch the problems with partners or another group. Allow students to get creative! Some students may enjoy illustrating their problems. Make math word problems relevant for your students by having them write and solve their own word problems.

To practice, have students start by creating problems in pairs then creating problems on their own. 


Escape rooms are synonymous with games, but they also bring learning, problem-solving, and critical thinking! Using math word problem escape rooms make word problems more like puzzles than required math work.

Fourth and fifth grade students will love the multiplication and division math escape room. These math word problems use fourth grade common core state standards to make sure students are learning and reviewing the skills they need to be successful in fourth grade math!

 

The math escape room has five stations, and your students will love to race to see what pair or group can solve the math word problems and escape room first.

The multistep word problem escape room  is a bit more challenging but also perfect for those upper elementary students! This escape room uses addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to help your learners review and solve problems! In this escape room, students solve multistep word problems with whole numbers and remainders. 

Each escape room has 20 math problems for your students to practice and solve, five stations and decoders, how to decode reference sheet, answer key, teacher directions and set up, time options, student recording sheet, and signs.

It’s perfectly fine to use math word problem escape rooms for a normal daily lesson, but sometimes students love it when you make it an event! No need to do a lot of prep, of course. You simply print the materials, and everything is ready to go. However, making a big deal about “escape room” day or hiding some of the clues throughout the room can get your students really excited about the game!

Here are some ways I recommend using math escape rooms in the classroom:

  • Pre-Assessment
  • Group Stations
  • Unit Review
  • State Testing Review
  • Enrichment Activity
  • Teamwork Activity
  • Formative Assessment
  • Reward Activity
  • Fun Activity Before a Long Break

Escape room completion times vary, but it’s OK to reserve two blocks of time to solve all the stations! Stations do not have to be completed in order, however, the final puzzle is the most challenging. If students don’t solve the puzzle in the allotted time, it’s OK. Celebrate the process and the puzzles they do solve! Review the remaining puzzles as a class, and learn how to use strategies in problem-solving, critical thinking, and teamwork to pull together to solve the escape room the next time you play.

Math word problems are not always a student favorite. Parents often point to story problems as a personal math struggle. However, math word problems today are different from the word problems of our past! Students can solve problems without numbers, using their own names and situations, and with game play and escape rooms! Math word problems can be engaging and FUN!

Try these math word problems your students will love to reach curriculum standards and make math relevant for your upper elementary math students. You will be glad you did!

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Amy

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