At-Home Learning: Use the Problem-Solving Strategies

By this time of year, most grade-level math concepts have been addressed, though students may not have reached mastery in every area. That comes with practice! As they move through elementary school, students acquire a range of strategies to tackle multi-step word problems. During problem solving, students use skills—everything from using basic facts and simple geometry to writing algebraic expressions and setting up ratios. Problem solving is a great way to practice and apply the grade-level math skills and concepts students have learned so far. Try these items for young students and older students.

Summer Solutions Problem Solving for grades 2–7 provides instruction and practice with a dozen problem-solving strategies. Download lesson samples and Help Pages here. I’ve listed the strategies below and included some practice sheets for lower and middle elementary students. Please note: There are often multiple ways to solve any problem; the solutions offered in the practice sheets are just examples.

Write an equation (number sentence).

Make an organized list.

Make a table or graph.

Draw a picture.

Make a model.

Act it out.

Solve a similar but simpler problem.

Work backwards.

Guess and check.

Find a pattern.

Use Logical Reasoning.

Combine strategies.

Problem Solving in the Lower Grades

Young students are very familiar with the first strategy, writing a number sentence. But they can also guess and check, look for patterns, and draw pictures. With some guidance, young children can make a list that can become a table. They can begin to use logic, which can be explained as common sense. By the end of third and fourth grade, students can work backwards and make models.

Problem Solving in the Upper Grades

Older students can choose among all the strategies, using them with problems of greater complexity. By the end of fifth and sixth grade, students can choose among their favorite strategies and can identify the specific strategy that works best with a given type of problem. After trying the practice items, have students make up similar problems of their own.


Summer Solutions workbooks allow students to get the practice they need so that they can continue learning all summer long. Ordering is easy and the books are sent directly to your house.   Order today!

Post Author: Nancy Tondy

Nancy is a former elementary teacher and gifted intervention specialist. She joined Simple Solutions in 2005 as co-author of the original English Grammar & Writing Mechanics series, and today, she manages our Writing Team. Outside of work, Nancy enjoys cooking, movies, biking, and travel.

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