Ways to Solve a Problem

Contributor: Sharon Hamilton. Lesson ID: 10762

Are math problems a problem for you? Subtract the stress and add to your skills using an online game and a strategic worksheet to learn the different ways to solve just about any simple math problem!


Arithmetic, Arithmetic

learning style
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


There is More Than One Way to Solve Most Problems

You and your friends shared 27 pieces of candy. If each person had 9 pieces of candy, how many friends shared the candy in all? By the way, it was nice of you to share!

Consider the following questions when solving word problems:

  • What do you want to find?
    • The total number of friends
  • What information do you know from reading the problem?
    • There are 27 pieces of candy.
    • Each person has 9 pieces.
  • What could you do?
    • You could draw a picture, use a diagram, write a number sentence, use base ten blocks, or counters.
  • What math operation did you use?
    • You could have used multiplication, addition, subtraction, or division!
  • What is the answer?
    • There were 3 people total.
  • How do you know your answer makes sense?
    • Is your answer reasonable?
    • Did you check your work to be sure you were correct?

Wait! What do you mean I could use any math operation to solve the problem?

Division 27 ÷ 9 = 3 Well, that will definitely work! If you divide 27 into 9 equal groups, you will get 3.


Multiplication This would look like a missing factor problem: ____ x 9 = 27. Refer to the table below:

# of people Pieces of candy per person Total pieces of candy
? (3) 9 27


Addition Count by 9s or use repeated addition until you reach 27: 9 + 9 + 9 = 27


Subtraction 27 - 9 = 18 - 9 = 9 - 9 = 0. Subtract 9 from 27 until you get to zero. That took 3 9s.

There are many strategies you can use to solve a problem. Try different ways, but be sure to use the strategy that works best for YOU.

  • number line
  • array
  • equal groups
  • algorithm
  • table
  • tally marks

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