Addition Word Problems for Students

Students typically learn to add in first grade, and the operation re-emerges in fourth or fifth grade, when they begin to add fractions. You can help your child gain a strong foundation in addition and solving addition word problems by consistently practicing at home. Keep reading for some sample problems.

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Why Should My Child Practice Addition Word Problems?

Word problems can be challenging for some students because they require several steps. First, the student needs to read and understand the word problem, and then he or she needs to come up with the appropriate expression.

Even though they can be difficult, word problems are an important part of math instruction because they require students to apply math concepts to real-life situations. Word problems also appear on most standardized math tests. For these reasons, students should begin practicing word problems as early as first grade.

Repetition is key to getting your child comfortable with word problems, so set aside a few minutes each night to practice them. To make the questions as clear as possible, try to include words like 'total' and 'altogether,' which should alert your child that he or she needs to use addition to solve the problem.

Addition Word Problems

Beginning Addition

1. Anna caught four fireflies, and Sarah caught five fireflies. How many fireflies did they catch altogether?

Word problems may be additionally challenging for some first graders because these children are still learning to read. When writing word problems for your child, keep the language simple, and use short sentences. For this problem, your child might draw the fireflies on paper and count the total, which is nine fireflies.

2. At the zoo, there were six polar bears. One of these polar bears gave birth to two cubs. How many total polar bears are there now?

Some first graders require a visual aid to add. If necessary, provide your child with a number line or counters. The answer is eight polar bears.


1. Ron ran 1/10 of a mile. The next day, he ran 3/10 of a mile. The following day, he ran 5/10 of a mile. On the fourth day, he ran 1/10 of a mile. How far did he run in all?

In fourth grade math, the bottom numbers, or denominators, of the fractions being added usually are the same, so students only need to add the top numbers, or numerators. For this problem, the addition should look like this: 1/10 + 3/10 + 5/10 + 1/10 = 10/10, which equals 1. In four days, Ron ran a full mile.

2. Patrick ate 1/8 of a pie. Matt ate 3/5 of the same pie, and Olivia ate 1/4. How much pie is left?

Because the fractions here have unlike denominators, this problem may be more appropriate for a fifth grader; however, you also might present it to your fourth grader if he or she needs a challenge.
To solve, your child first must identify the common denominator for all three fractions, which is 40. He or she should multiply 1/8 by 5/5 so that the first fraction becomes 5/40, 3/5 by 8/8 so that the second fraction is 24/40 and 1/4 by 10/10 so that the third fraction is 10/40. The problem should now look like this: 5/40 + 24/40 + 10/40 = 39/40. That sum represents how much of the pie has been eaten. So, that means there is 1/40 of the pie remaining, which is the answer to the question of how much pie is left.
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