Math Word Problems for Elementary Students

Solving elementary math word problems can be challenging for children because they have to figure out which operation to use. You can help your child solve word problems by teaching him or her some simple techniques.

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How Can I Help My Child Solve Elementary Word Problems?

If your child is frustrated by a word problem, it can be tempting to give him or her the answer. However, it's important that your child learns to solve these problems on his or her own. You might offer some assistance by walking your child through a problem similar to the one he or she is struggling with and then allowing your child to repeat the process that you've outlined on his or her own.

You also might help your child identify the important information in a word problem by underlining it. This can keep your child focused on the numbers involved. Additionally, you can discuss keywords like 'more' and 'less' with your child, which can help him or her identify the operation that should be used. For instance, if the problem asks for the difference between two numbers, your child likely will need to use subtraction to solve it.

You can also encourage your child to draw a picture to visualize a word problem. For instance, if the word problem requires multiplication of 4 and 2, your child might draw four rows of two and count the total.

Word Problems and Solutions by Grade Level


There are three monkeys at the zoo. They're joined by two more monkeys. How many monkeys are there in all?

In first grade, students learn strategies for solving addition and subtraction problems within 20. For this problem, you might encourage your child to draw a picture or use counters to determine that there are five monkeys in all.


At the store, Maria's total is $420. If Maria gives the cashier $500, how much money will she receive in change?

To calculate how much Maria will get back, your child should subtract 500 - 420. Maria will receive $80 in change.


There are six scoops of ice cream in each sundae. If Mandy and her friends buy four sundaes, how many scoops of ice cream will they have in all?

Your child should multiply the scoops of ice cream per sundae by the number of sundaes bought (6 x 4 = 24). There will be 24 scoops of ice cream in all.


A radio station is giving away 60 free tickets to a concert. If the station chooses ten winners, how many concert tickets will each person receive?

By dividing the number of free tickets by the number of winners (60 ÷ 10), you child should determine that each person gets six tickets.
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