4th Grade Math: Problem Solving Made Easy

Learning how to extract important information and manipulate data from word problems can be challenging. Help your child understand what information can be ignored and what to look for by providing him or her with extra practice at home. Keep reading for tips, sample problems and solutions.

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How to Make 4th Grade Math Problems Easy

In 4th grade math, students learn to multiply numbers with multiple digits and continue their study of fractions and decimals. In addition, they continue to refine their problem solving skills. Problem solving usually involves word problems and is challenging because students have to identify the important information and choose the appropriate operation. Not only can word problems help students develop higher order thinking skills, but word problems are also on standardized math tests. Here are some tips that may make the problem easier when your child is solving a word problem at home:

1. When solving a word problem, ignore the unnecessary story parts of the problem. Nonessential information often distracts and confuses students. Encourage your student to only look for important information, which includes the numbers and how the numbers relate to one another.

2. Help your child recognize key words that indicate what math concept is required to solve the problem. For instance, the phrase 'in all' indicates that addition is necessary. Alternatively, the word 'difference' can often imply that subtraction is necessary.

3. Advise your child to use scratch paper to make notes, draw pictures or show his or her work. Writing information down can help your child visualize the problem at hand, rather than try to remember everything.

Math Problems and Solutions


Problem: Last week, your mom had a garage sale. Twenty toys were sold for $4.50 each and ten shirts were sold for $6 each. How much money did your mom make in all?

Solution: For this problem, the information provided in the first sentence can be ignored because it does not provide any pertinent information. This problem requires both multiplication and addition. Begin by making note of how many toys were sold (20) and for how much ($4.50). Then, solve using multiplication: 20 x 4.5 = 90. Repeat the process for the shirts, so the equation should look like this: 10 x 6 = 60. Finally, add the sums together and you will find that your mom made $150 from the garage sale.


Problem: In Matt's class, 2/6 of the students wear glasses, 3/6 of the students wear watches and 1/6 of the students wear hats. How many of the students in Matt's class are wearing glasses and a hat?

Solution: For this problem, you can ignore the number of students who are wearing watches because the question is asking how many students are wearing glasses (2/6) and hats (1/6). The equation should look like this: 2/6 + 1/6 = 3/6.


Problem: On her math test, Sandy got 24 out of 30 questions correct. What percent did Sandy receive?

Solution: To solve this problem, begin by dividing 24/30, which equals 0.8. Then, calculate the percentage by multiplying 0.8 by 100, which is 80%.

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