Read it. Draw it. Solve it.

Winter Problem Solving

©Brooke Perry Primary perspective

Here are 12 math problems which can be used to review problem solving strategies. They include addition, subtraction, fact families, one to one correspondence, skip counting, fractions and comparing/ordering numbers. I will glue them at the top of a piece of chart paper then have the students help me solve them as they complete their own work on individual dry erase boards. I will call on students to help me solve the problems on the large paper and explain how they solved the problem.
My school uses a problem solving format called “cubes.” It’s very simple and effective for young learners. My kiddos have been using it since September, and by this point in the school year they know what each letter of the acronym stands for and the order for solving and checking problems. “Cubes” was adapted/created by the math vertical family at my school, and it is used by all students K-4. This is really helpful as students transition from one grade level to the next. They are familiar with the terminology and sequence of problem solving steps. We also use a problem solving mat to help us solve. K-1 uses the same mat, 2nd has a mat unique to their grade level, and 3-4 use a very similar mat.

First we read the problem aloud 2 times. Once while the students listen to me and follow along silently and once where we read chorally (another great way to build fluency during math).

C-Circle the question. U-underline important information. B-box the key words (in all, how many more…) E-evaluate (do we add/subtract/compare..?) S-Solve and check (does the answer make sense, how can we double check, explain your thinking)
We also use 4 basic problem solving strategies called the “fantastic 4.” 1. Draw a picture. 2. Act it out. 3. Look for a pattern. 4. Estimate then check. We focus on the process and on reflective thinking when we complete problem solving activities. Even if a student has the correct answer, they know that they are expected to discuss how they got their answer and what they were thinking about as they were working.

Each snowman is wearing 5 buttons. Altogether there are 6 snowmen. How many buttons are there in all?

10 penguins ate 80 fish. Each one ate the same number of fish. How many fish did each penguin eat?

The penguin ate 3 red fish, 5 blue fish, and 4 green fish. How many fish did the penguin eat in all?

The snowman’s scarf has an ABB pattern with orange and purple stripes. If the pattern repeats itself 5 times, how many purple stripes are there in all?

Put the penguins in order from shortest to tallest.
Emperor Penguin - 44 inches King Penguin - 37 inches Adelie Penguin - 24 inches Chinstrap Penguin - 24 inches Rockhopper - 18 inches Royal Penguin - 30 inches Fairy Penguin - 16 inches

What is the difference between the tallest penguin and the smallest penguin? Use the chart below.
Emperor Penguin - 44 inches King Penguin - 37 inches Adelie Penguin - 24 inches Chinstrap Penguin - 24 inches Rockhopper - 18 inches Royal Penguin - 30 inches Fairy Penguin - 16 inches

The penguin caught 6 fish in the morning, 9 fish in the afternoon, and 5 fish in the evening. How many fish did the penguin catch altogether?

Use the chart to record the high temperatures for each day of the week.
Day of the Week
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday



Place them in order from greatest to least. Which day was the coldest? Which day was the warmest?

My snowman has 5 green buttons and 7 blue buttons. How many buttons are there in all? Write all of the facts that belong with this fact family.

There are 15 penguins huddled together to stay warm. 4 of them go to the sea to find fish. How many are left?

10 penguins are playing on the ice. Some are slipping and some are sliding. Make a table that tells about all of the ways that they could be playing.
Penguins Slipping Penguins Sliding

The mother penguin caught 15 fish for her chicks. There were 4 chicks. Will all of the fish get a fair share? How many fish will each chick get to eat?

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