Equations and Expressions for 4th Grade Math

Learning about equations and expressions for 4th grade is an important prelude to learning algebra in later grades. Equations and expressions are usually written in conjunction with word problems and don't have variables, which you'll normally see in later grades. Use the samples below as models to make your own questions at home.

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What Are Some Tips for Solving 4th Grade Expressions and Equations?

Often, 4th grade word problems require several steps in order to solve them. Because 4th graders are familiar with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, your child should expect all four of these operations to be included in the questions. Using the clues from the word problem, students can create an equation that reflects the problem. Consider the following example.

Laura earns $3 a day for cleaning the dishes. Mike earns $4 a day for vacuuming the house. What's the total amount that Mike and Laura earn if they each do their chores for five days in a row?

To solve this problem, your child should come up with an equation that looks like this: 3 x 5 + 4 x 5. Students will begin solving this problem by calculating Laura's earnings (3 x 5 = 15) and Mike's earnings (4 x 5 = 20). Then, because the question requires students to look for the total for both Laura and Mike's earnings, these two sums are added together. Using this equation, your child will find that Laura and Mike made $35 in all.

Word problems that require students to create an equation are challenging because they contain a combination of mathematical operations. The example above required two sets of multiplication problems as well as addition. When your daughter solves a word problem at home, be sure that she shows her work for each step so you can identify what step caused the most difficulty.

Word Problems with Multiple Steps


Georgia bought three roses for $2 each, four lilies for $1 each and one daisy for $3. Then, on the walk home, she loses $5 and has no money left. How much money did Georgia begin with?

Your son may be challenged by this problem because it requires a long equation with multiple steps and critical thinking. As an equation, the solution would look like this: (3 x 2) + (4 x 1) + 3 + 5. However, because this can be overwhelming for a fourth grader, break it up into steps.

He should begin by using multiplication to figure out how much each type of flower will cost. The roses cost $6, the lilies cost $4 and the daisy costs $3. As a result, the equation will be simplified to look like this: 6 + 4 + 3. However, he needs to remember that Georgia lost $5 on the way home, so add another five to the equation: 6 + 4 + 3 + 5 = 18. By breaking up the problem into steps, your son will find that Georgia began with $18.


Mike receives $3 a week in allowance. He wants to buy three comic books that cost $2 each and a novel that costs $9. How many weeks will it take for Mike to save up enough money?

To solve, this problem requires both multiplication and division. Begin by using multiplication to figure out how much the comic books and the novel will cost in all. The equation should look like this: 2 x 3 + 9 = 15. Then divide the cost of the comic books and the novel by Mike's allowance ($3): 15 / 3 = 5. It will take five weeks for Mike to save the money.

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