Math Problem Solving Strategies Poster

You might think of a diagram as anything that you can draw which isn’t a picture.

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In this site we have linked the problem solving lessons to the following groupings of problem solving strategies.

As the site develops we may add some more but we have tried to keep things simple for now.

In our experience, children need to be encouraged and helped to use equipment. This may be because it gives them a better representation of the problem in hand.

Also, if they’re a little older, they may feel that using equipment is only 'for babies'.

If you are not careful, they may try to use it all the time.

As problems get more difficult, other strategies become more important and more effective.There is no need for elaborate drawings showing beak, feathers, curly tails, etc., in full colour.Some children will need to be encouraged not to over-elaborate their drawings (and so have time to attempt the problem).Since there are problems where using equipment is a better strategy than drawing, you should encourage children’s use of equipment by modelling its use yourself from time to time.3 Draw It is fairly clear that a picture has to be used in the strategy Draw a Picture. It should only contain enough detail to solve the problem.Hence a rough circle with two marks is quite sufficient for chickens and a blob plus four marks will do for pigs.There are a number of common strategies that children of primary age can use to help them solve problems.We discuss below several that will be of value for problems on this web-site and in books on problem solving.You will see that each strategy we have in our list is really only a summary of two or more others.1 Guess This stands for two strategies, guess and check and guess and improve. This is a strategy that would certainly work on the Farmyard problem but it could take a lot of time and a lot of computation.Because it is such a simple strategy to use, you may have difficulty weaning some children away from guess and check.Guess and improve is slightly more sophisticated than guess and check.The idea is that you use your first incorrect guess to make an improved next guess. In relatively straightforward problems like that, it is often fairly easy to see how to improve the last guess. Children themselves take the role of things in the problem.

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