Help your students build their math skills and learn to solve word problems using tape diagrams with my Tape Diagram Anchor Charts.
These are the most basic addition word problems; problems that require students to add to find the total or the whole. They include problems in which two different kinds are added (e.g., The parking lot has 30 cars and 25 trucks. How many vehicles are there in total?) and problems in which more is added to the original value (e.g., Ella has 7 seashells and she gets 19 more from her friend. How many seashells does Ella have now?) Students can model to solve these problems by drawing both parts, and then adding to find the sum or total.
These are the most basic subtraction word problems; problems that give students the total, and then ask them to take some objects from the total to see how many remain. For example: At a birthday party, there were 23 cupcakes. 9 cupcakes were eaten. How many cupcakes are left? Students need to subtract to solve these problems.
These problems are somewhat similar to take away problems, in that students are given the total and need to subtract. However, they are different and often more challenging, because nothing is “taken away” – rather, there are two parts, and students need to find the value of one of the two parts. An example of this kind of problem is: A farm has 96 animals. 63 of them are cows, and the others are sheep. How many sheep are on the farm? Students can model by drawing the whole and splitting it into two parts, then taking away the known part so that only the unknown remains. Some students, especially in lower grades, find it easier to make sense of these problems by using addition with a missing addend, rather than subtraction.
Comparison word problems are among the most difficult addition and subtraction problems for many students. Student can struggle to understand what the question is asking when given two parts and asked to find the difference (e.g. A garden has 83 tulips and 33 daffodils. How many more tulips are there than daffodils?) These problems can be challenging not only mathematically, but also in terms of reading comprehension! Students benefit greatly from learning to draw a comparison tape diagram to make sense of the problem before choosing an operation to solve. In the case of difference unknown problems, students will need to subtract the smaller part from the larger part in order to determine the difference between them.
In these comparison word problems, students are given the difference and larger part, and need to subtract to find the smaller part (e.g., A camel can drink 98 liters of water. A horse can drink 30 liters fewer than a camel. How many liters can the horse drink?). These can be particularly challenging for students when the word “more” is involved, making them think that they need to add the given numbers (e.g., A strawberry has 27 more seeds than a raspberry. If a strawberry has 80 seeds, how many seeds does a raspberry have?). Again, students benefit greatly from first representing the problem with a tape diagram, then choosing the appropriate operation to solve.
These comparison word problems are the inverse of comparison with smaller part unknown. Students are given the difference and the smaller part, and they need to add to find the larger part (e.g., A kid's toolbox has 13 tools. An adult's toolbox has 44 more tools than the kid's toolbox. How many tools does the adult's toolbox have?). Again, these can be particularly confusing when the word “fewer” in the problem leads students to believe that they should subtract, when in fact they need to add to solve (e.g., The bakery has 10 baguettes ready for sale. This is 63 fewer than the supermarket has ready for sale. How many baguettes does the supermarket have?). Once again, students benefit from drawing tape diagrams to help them make sense of the problem and solve.
My suggestions for each grade level, given below, are based on the Common Core Learning Standards. Although some states have adopted their own learning standards, many of them follow a similar pattern to the CCLS. However, my worksheets are fully customizable, so you can create the worksheets that you need to meet your state standards, or to meet the needs of the students in your room. Every teacher knows their students best! Keeping that in mind, my best guidance is below.
This guide is also extremely helpful when thinking about the kinds of word problems your students are expected to master at each grade level.
Kindergarten students are learning about mathematical operations and word problems for the first time. Generally, kindergarten word problems fall into the Total Unknown / Add To and Take Away categories. Kindergarten students learn to solve word problems within 10 using one-digit numbers. They can and should use objects and drawings to represent the problem concretely, and they also start to learn to use addition and subtraction equations to represent their thinking.
I recommend introducing Total Unknown / Add To word problems within 10, and Take Away word problems within 10 separately as the operations of addition and subtraction are introduced. Later on, kindergarten students can work on identifying if a problem requires adding more or taking away, and choosing an appropriate drawing or model and equation to match.
For kindergarten math worksheets, I recommend Total Unknown / Add To and Take Away within 10. Students should have access to drawings or manipulatives to help them solve.
1st grade math students work on all types of addition and subtraction word problems within 20. They should be using objects or drawings in addition to equations to help them solve. First grade students will have a stronger understanding of Total Unknown / Add To and Take Away word problems from kindergarten, but they may struggle with Part Unknown and Comparison word problems. They benefit from learning to use tape diagrams, number bonds, or other models to help them make sense of the relationship between the numbers in math problems and to solve according to the situation.
In first grade math, I recommend introducing Part Unknown word problems within 10 and then within 20, with a heavy emphasis on use of drawings and manipulatives to make sense of these problems. Some students may find it easier to use missing-addend addition rather than subtraction to make sense of these problems. This is a valid solution strategy, but push them to understand the relationship between addition and subtraction so that they are able to subtract as needed when solving with larger numbers in upper grades.
Students tend to struggle the most with comparison word problems. They benefit from explicit instruction in using tape diagrams and lots of guided practice drawing and modeling the problem. I recommend ensuring that students can model the problem appropriately rather than trying to give them “tricks” to find the correct operation – remember, in these types of problems, the word “fewer” can sometimes mean that you need to add to solve! Once students are solid with modeling the problem, they are usually able to choose the correct operation needed to solve.
For first grade math worksheets, I recommend using any of the problem types within 20. Students will likely need extra assistance with comparison problems, particularly those in which the “key word” indicates the opposite operation to that which is actually needed.
2nd grade students work on all types of addition and subtraction word problems within 100. Although they have been introduced to all of the word problem types in earlier grades, they may still struggle with some of the more challenging ones, particularly comparison word problems.
Also in second grade math, students learn to add and subtract with regrouping using concepts of place value. Word problems are a great opportunity to practice applying this skill in more “real world” contexts. However, I suggest that when introducing new or challenging word problem types, use simpler numbers or problems that do not require adding or subtracting with regrouping. This will allow second graders to focus on the structure of the word problem. Once students develop more mastery of word problems and more fluency with addition and subtraction with regrouping, the two skills can be combined for more intensive practice.
For second grade word problem worksheets, I recommend using any of the problem types within 100, with or without regrouping, depending on the needs of your students.
In 3rd grade math, students work on all types of addition and subtraction word problems within 1,000. By now, students should be quite familiar with addition and subtraction word problem types, although they may still need more practice representing and solving comparison word problems and other tricky word problem types.
Keep in mind that the emphasis in third grade is on introducing multiplication and division word problems and on practicing multi-step word problems. However, many students still benefit from targeted review of tricky one-step addition and subtraction word problem types!
For third grade math worksheets, I recommend targeting addition and subtraction problem types based on the needs of your students, to fill gaps in understanding as needed. Word problems can also be a great opportunity to practice applying the standard algorithms for addition and subtraction within 1,000 to real-world scenarios.
Hi! My name is Miss Becca, and I’m an elementary school teacher in New York. Over the course of my teaching career, I’ve taught every grade from kindergarten through fifth grade. I’m certified in both special and general education, and I’ve taught students from both populations.
I’ve never been fully happy with the various free math sheet generators out there. I feel that many of them are targeted towards high school or middle school students, and they don’t really understand the elementary school classroom. My biggest pet peeve is math worksheets that give students almost no space to show their work! Little kids need space to work, and they often have LARGE handwriting! I wanted to make a math sheets generator that was specific to elementary school students, both for my own use and for other teachers!
What features would you like to see added to PracticeMathWorksheets.com? I’d love to hear your ideas! Shoot me an email at beccatheteacher (at) gmail (dot) com with any questions or feedback!
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