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Mathematical problem solving for the primary grades

January 31, 2007

Every other Wednesday, I work with the youngest math group at my kids’ school, 12 kids spanning about K-2 mathematical ability levels. With this group, I teach the basics of mathematical problem solving strategies using the Figure It Out problem solving workbooks.

We do a lot of problems where the kids work things out with manipulatives (“Act it Out”) or draw pictures, etc. It’s great to watch the kids as they come along in their mathematical problem solving. Already at 6 or 7, many of the older kids in this group are getting good at reading and understanding non-routine word problems, and at choosing good approaches for solving them. It will be interesting to see if we notice an increase in our upper elementary Math Olympiads when these kids with problem solving training from so early start competing. In any case, they all seem to enjoy the time they spend on problem solving, and hopefully it is helping them develop some good skills that will serve them well in future endeavors.

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