What Color is the Ribbon?

What Color is the Ribbon? A simple strategy to help students solve math word problems.

One of the hardest things for little mathematicians is figuring out how to solve word problems in math. 

I have a little strategy that helps in many cases: get them to visualize the situation. 

The other day, my students were doing a word problem that included measuring a ribbon, and comparing it to another ribbon. 

They looked a little confused, so I suggested they pictured the story problem in their minds. Then I started asking questions...


Then I kept going.


Then I worked on getting them to visualize the story.


And a little more directed questioning...


This pretty much wrapped it up! (pardon the "ribbon" pun!) They were able to use the picture in their minds to solve the number problem.

This strategy helps in many cases! 

In fact, after a while, they start to ask themselves these questions and can solve the problems by themselves!

Of course, independence is our goal, but we have to lead them there, don't we?


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