Multiple Step Word Problems

Contributor: Elephango Editors. Lesson ID: 10118

Are you having problems figuring out word problems? Learn the steps to solve any word problem! Take the online quiz and complete the worksheet to show off your multi-step word problem skills!

categories

Arithmetic, Operations and Algebraic Thinking

subject
Math
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

Francis went to the bookstore with $42. The chapter book he needed to buy for school was $10. He then noticed all of the puzzle books were on sale for $4 per book.

  • How many puzzle books can Francis buy?

He brought you along because you're the only one smart enough to help him out!

Word problems with more than one step can sometimes be confusing.

Take a moment to review the Words and Mathematical Phrases Guide found under Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar. Knowing these words and phrases can help you figure out which operations to use when solving the problem.

Read the problem at the beginning of the lesson. On a piece of paper, write down what you think the answer should be.

To help us solve multiple-step word problems, we can use the following 5 steps:

  • Step 1 Determine what the question is asking for. What am I trying to find?
  • Step 2 Determine the math operation(s) needed to find the answer (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division).
  • Step 3 Determine the information you need from the problem to find the answer.
  • Step 4 Solve the problem and write your answer in a sentence.
  • Step 5 Determine if your answer makes sense.

Now, use the 5 steps to figure out this problem:

At a carnival, Manuel and his brother collected 64 pieces of candy altogether. Each of them ate 4 pieces of candy. The next day, Manuel had 27 pieces left. How many pieces did Manuel's brother have left?

  • Step 1 Figure out what the question is asking (What am I trying to figure out?). Look at the last part of the word problem: How many pieces did Manuel's brother have left?

  • Step 2 Figure out which operation(s) to use. Use your Words and Mathematical Phrases Guide. See if any words or phrases from the last question in the word problem are on that guide.

Subtraction
Operation   Example of Word Phrase   Translated into Symbols

subtract from

subtracted from

=>

Subtract 8 from 19

8 subtracted from 19

=> 19 - 8 =

difference

=> the difference between 14 and 7 => 14 - 7 =

left

remaining

=> Of 9 items, 6 were used. How many were left? => 9 - 6 =

 

As you can see from the question in our word problem, we have the phrase: “How many . . . left?”

When you look at the guide, under Subtraction, you will see the word "left" and the phrase, “How many are left?” This tells us we need to use subtraction in this problem.

Even though we are only using one operation, we still have multiple steps to perform to get to our answer.

  • Step 3 "At a carnival, Manuel and his brother collected 64 pieces of candy altogether. Each of them ate 4 pieces of candy. The next day, Manuel had 27 pieces left. How many pieces did Manuel's brother have left?"

The parts of the word problem that are highlighted have the information we need to help us figure out the answer.

  • Step 4 Solve the problem and write your answer in a sentence. You can solve the problem either through the use of pictures or tallies.

Here is how you would use a picture to help you solve the problem:

64 pieces of candy

The picture above represents the 64 pieces of candy Manuel and his brother started out with. The picture below represents the candy after Manuel and his brother EACH ate 4 pieces of candy.

candy that was eaten

The picture below represents the 27 pieces of candy Manuel had left from the original 64 pieces of candy.

Manuel's candy

Now all you have to do is count how many pieces of candy DO NOT have a mark or circle on them. This will tell you how many pieces of candy Manuel's brother had left. Did you get 29?

Great job!

  • Step 5 Determine if your answer makes sense. The best way to check if you have the correct answer is to use the opposite operation and work the problem backward.

In this problem we used subtraction. The opposite operation would be addition:

equation

equation

  • Did you end up with the number from the original problem

Excellent!

Continue on to the Got It? section to help Francis!

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