Better Late Than Never

I wanted to share an activity that I did with my kids.

Back at Christmas.

Better late than never, right? 

The activity really could be generalized to any time of year so technically still relevant. If you could just go ahead and ignore that the math problems are written on Christmas trees it would be greatly appreciated. 

I am in a unique position with my class in that I teach 3rd 4th and 5th grade students who have EXTREMELY different abilities. Every once in a while I get lucky and we have a topic that everyone can study at their own levels. Addition and subtraction word problems would be one of those areas. All of my kids need to be able to solve one and two step word problems that involve addition and subtraction. Some kids may be working on sums to 20, others may be working on sums to 1000 + with decimals but the basic outline of the problems is the same. 

Here's the activity I came up with... 

First, I wrote three sets of word problems with sums to 20, sums to 100 and sums to 1000 for my three different levels of kiddies. I made sure to write problems corresponding to each problem type described in the common core. There were comparison problems, part part whole problems and change problems. Each group had 12 problems to solve.

Next, the kids sorted the problems at the table with me. This was an important step for us because in our math program there are different models or illustrations for each problem type. The faster they can identify the problem types, the easier time they have determining whether they need to add or subtract to solve. 
 The kids were able to record the problem sort on one recording page. Seeing how it took a full half hour to sort them the first time, that was a full day activity. The next day they went back and solved the problems.

We actually sorted these same problems 3 or 4 times. They started keying into the wording after a few sorts and were really noticing great things like "Oh, it says this person has more than that person so I can draw comparison bars" and "They're putting two different things together so it's a part part whole! The last thing we did with these problems was a QR code hunt.... which I am going to save for another post!

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