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## Multi-Step Word Problems Mastery

How many of you cringe at the thought of teaching your students multi-step word problems? (RAISES HAND!) I get it. I know. It's tough. It is overwhelming, and it's not necessarily something that just “clicks” for kids. They need practice, they need time to think through problems, and they need to start really thinking like mathematicians in order to become proficient at more difficult problems. Luckily, over the years, I've come up with a few different ideas and activities for helping students master multi-step word problems! There are TONS of freebies in this post. Enjoy!

## CUBES for Problem Solving

I always begin problem-solving (not just multi-step word problems) by teaching my students CUBES. This has been around for years, in many different variations. An oldie but a goodie, if you will!

I REALLY, REALLY emphasize the “E” because this is where kids get stuck. I created the three “What” questions that they need to be able to answer before they can move on and solve the problem. Before they try to solve the problems, they need to ask themselves:

- What label will my answer have? (This helps them narrow down exactly what they are doing with the problem, and maybe, just maybe, it helps them remember to include a label!)
- What information do I HAVE to answer the question?
- What information do I NEED to answer the question?

I have found that kids are almost always able to figure out the answers to these questions when they are required to stop and think about it, and this step ALWAYS helps to set them up for problem-solving success!

Teaching my students to use a pretty specific format for showing their work and solving word problems. I have been using some variation of this for years, and it has evolved the more and more I have used it.

## The Single-Step Format

The sample problem I used in this anchor chart is a SINGLE-STEP problem, and I would highly encourage you to teach this format using a single-step format, then move on later to using it for multi-step (hang tight! I will address using this format with multi-step problems soon!).

Now, do I recommend you use this format for every single word problem students use? Absolutely not. However, we do at least one or two a week this way simply because of the “answer” section and how important it is for students to be able to explain their math process.

Students always have to begin their written answers with “To solve this problem, I…” and they always have to end it with “Therefore, I know…” Students are always very tempted to say, “To solve this problem I added 1,098 and 530. Therefore, I know the answer is 1,628 calories.” Is this right? Sure! But is it the best answer and explanation they could have given? Nope.

I always encourage my students to be VERY specific about what the numbers are that they are addressing when they write out their answers. This helps them really evaluate their thinking and see if it made sense. There is a big difference between telling me which numbers you added and what those numbers represent. This also encourages students to restate the question in their answer and make sure they have actually answered the question that is being asked.

**THIS IS ALWAYS A CHALLENGE!** It takes my students several examples to catch on to explaining their answers in this way, but it is so, so worth it once they truly understand. Here is another student sample:

## Introducing Multi-Step Problem Solving

Now, before I have them use this model for multi-step problems, there are a few activities we do to prepare for that challenge and to get them comfortable with multi-step problems.

First, I have them do a little sequencing sort. I give them a completed multi-step problem with all of the steps out of order. The steps are written in the same format as described above, with very specific instructions walking the reader through how they solved the problem. The students put the directions back in order and make sure it all makes sense. They aren't actually having to do any math here, so it frees them up to simply think about the process. ( These sorts are free ! See link at the end of my blog post.)

Then we work with these multi-step word problem cutouts . Each half-page word problem includes 4-5 steps to solve it. Students must cut out the steps and rearrange them into the correct order to fully explain how to solve each problem.

## Foldables for Scaffolded Practice

Once I feel like students understand the basics of solving multi-step problems, we move on to some scaffolded practice using these handy little foldables that I created! (I have created ten pages of varying levels, and they are FREE for you to use with your students! Click the link at the end of the post to access the freebies.)

Each page is split in half. Students fold the paper in half, cut across the dotted lines on the right side, and fold the right flaps under. They always start with the left side, where they read the problem, following the CUBE steps (with a special place for the Examine step, because I think it is SO important), and then they open the flaps to reveal step-by-step how to solve the problem. The flaps give the student hints about what step they need to complete and sometimes how to do it. It serves as a scaffolded guide for solving these tricky word problems.

The purpose of the flaps is to guide students through the steps, but to also give them time to think about what the next steps are and then see if they are correct.

Now, the only tricky part about this is that students might solve problems differently (and possibly in a different order) and get the same answer and THAT IS OKAY. These are meant to be used as an introduction to multi-step problem solving only! There are so many ways you can let your students use them.

Once we have done several of these together, I let them start working on their own with task cards and our four square format I mentioned above. I have them glue task cards in their notebooks and work through each problem. Once they have done a few like this, I let them move on to working on them without the four square format.

Some students even like to create their own foldables (like those that I showed above) with the task cards!

## You can purchase my Multi-Step Word Problem Task Cards HERE.

When kids are ready, we then move on to multi-part problems. Kids LOVE these, and they seem to really thrive on the challenge of not only having a multi-step problem, but also a multi-PART problem.

## You can purchase my Multi-Part Task Cards HERE.

…and when your students are really ready for an even bigger challenge, it's time to present to them… Math Detectives! This is a new spin on Error Analysis that requires students to really analyze solutions and see which solutions and problem solving steps are the most reasonable. Each card has a task on it (usually multi-step) and there are two different explanations for a solution. The students have to figure out which explanation is correct and then solve the problem. This is such a fun activity for my students! They love being detectives.

## You can purchase Math Detectives HERE.

Well, there you have it! All of my ideas and resources for teaching students to love solving multi-step word problems! It doesn't have to be (too) scary.

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This handy download includes a variety of resources to help your students master word problems! You’ll find the ready-to-go Small Group Planner, the Problem-Solving Rounds Cheat Sheet, the printable Thinking Mat for any word problem, plus unique options such as Tiered Word Problems and Side-by-Sides. Get it now when you sign up for free resources and teaching tips from Teacher Trap!

## Mastering Multi-Step Word Problems

Of all the tricky word problems, multi-step problems cause my students the most trouble. They get confused about the order of events, the operations needed to solve, and the computation of multiple numbers. In this post, I’m sharing the four simple steps for helping students master multi-step word problems.

## Step 1: Read and Visualize

The first thing we do with a multi-step word problem is read it slowly and visualize what is happening. This first step is about using our good reading comprehension strategies.

I ask students to close their eyes and imagine the events as they take place.

Julie had 82 stickers.

Imagine a girl with some stickers. Maybe they’re all in a box. See her holding the box in her hands.

Her aunt gave her 26 more stickers.

Can you see her aunt handing her more stickers? Julie adds those to her box now. What operation would match that action?

Then Julie let her brother pick out 12 stickers to keep.

Imagine her little brother coming over and taking 12 out of the box. Will Julie have more or fewer stickers now? What operation matches that step?

How many stickers does Julie have?

Imagine her holding the box of stickers. How many are in there now?

We practice this type of visualizing over and over again until students begin to naturally visualize every time they read a word problem. This is SO important! Especially with multi-step word problems, you can’t just grab numbers and start working with them without carefully thinking through the operations needed.

During this step, you might also consider leaving out the numbers. You can say, “Julie had some stickers. Her aunt gave her some more. Her brother picked out some to keep.” This can help students focus on the events rather than trying to solve!

## Step 1 (Part 2): Act it Out

I like to have students visualize first so that each child has to do the thinking work on their own. Visualizing is an important strategy for independent problem solving.

But when we’re working together as a whole class, it’s helpful to make sure everyone is on the same page and was able to visualize the situation correctly. That’s why we also physically act out multi-step word problems.

We act out the problems with simple gestures that show if we are giving away (losing, eating, using up, etc.) things or if we are gaining more of something. Incorporating movement helps many students make sense of tricky problems.

Sometimes, I’ll ask for a few volunteers to act out the problem in front of the classroom, and sometimes we’ll all just do it together from our spots.

Again, it’s often helpful to leave out the numbers. Our goal is to give meaning to what is happening in the problem and relate each action to its matching operation, not to start solving.

## Step 2: Write an Answer Statement First

Once students have made sense of the problem, it’s helpful to have them write an Answer Statement. The Answer Statement can help students determine and remember what the problem is asking them to find out.

For example:

Julie has ___ stickers now.

This helps students remember that we are trying to determine how many stickers Julie has after the events of the problem. It also ensures that students actually READ the question!

After students solve the problem, they can place their answer in the statement and check if it makes sense.

## Step 3: Write the Full Equation

One of the challenges of multi-step word problems is that students often solve one part but forget or miss the next step. I find that it’s helpful to have them write the entire equation, including all the steps, before trying to solve any of the parts.

From the earlier example, students would write:

82 + 26 -12 = ?

After they have written the equation, I like to look back at it and talk out how it matches the story problem.

Julie started with 82 stickers. Her aunt gave her 26 more, so we need to add 26. Then her brother took 12, so we need to subtract 12.

Now students can see all of the events represented in one equation and will be less likely to forget a step.

## Step 4: Chunk the Parts

Now that students know the parts, I ask them to look at the equation and determine a plan for solving. In many cases, this simply means to complete the first part (86 + 26 = A) and then use that answer to complete the second part. (A – 12 = ?)

In some cases, students may notice an easier way to work with the numbers and reorder the steps.

125 + 52 – 25 = ?

Some students may see that they can simply take the 25 from 125 first and end up with 100, which is then easy to add to 52.

Another example:

42 – 18 + 7 = ?

Some students may realize they can avoid regrouping by first adding 7 to 42 and then subtracting the 18.

When students know all the steps, they are able to think about smarter ways to complete the task.

## Handy Tools for Multi-Step Word Problems

I find that the key to teaching multi-step word problems is starting with a simplified version of the problem and working up to the more challenging ones.

My favorite way to do this is to use Tiered Word Problems . These are leveled word problems that slowly increase in challenge from the first grade level on up.

Since multi-step word problems can be scary, I decided to use a zombie theme for the pack. (Plus, my students love zombies!) This pack includes leveled problems that allow me to differentiate instruction and gradually increase the challenge.

Although the pack is targeted to 2nd and 3rd graders, it’s perfect for challenging younger students or intervening when older students aren’t quite catching on.

You can check out the Multi-Step Word Problems Zombie Pack in my TPT store.

I hope these tips make your teaching life a little easier! What strategies help your students make sense of multi-step problems? Comment below!

You might also like:

Word Problems Made Easy

Problem Solving Rounds for Teaching Word Problems

Guided Math Groups for Teaching Word Problems

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Helpful 3rd – 5th Grade Teaching Resources

## Teaching Multi-Step Word Problems

March 5, 2019 by Ashleigh | 2 Comments

Multi-part or multi-step word problems has to be one of — if not THE — most challenging parts of the year. I’ve found that saving multi-step word problems for the very end of the year or right before testing is the least efficient way to teach this tricky skill. Instead, students need instruction on multi-step word problems embedded in curriculum throughout the year. Students need time and practice in order to be proficient with these problems. This post shares some of my favorite ways to teach and practice multi-step and multi-part word problems.

## Numberless Word Problems

Before students can begin mastering multi-step word problems, they need to learn how to solve single-step word problems. When students are presented with a word problem, they tend to rush to solve the problem, without thinking about the meaning of the content. In fact, I proved this to my students with this little exercise.

As you can see, there is no solution to the problem, but I have seen many excellent math students “solve” the problem. My hands-down favorite way to prevent this is through numberless word problems. In fact, I recently wrote an entire blog post dedicated to numberless word problems. You can find that post here . In a nutshell, with numberless word problems, all numbers are removed temporarily while students process what the situation is and determine what information is needed to solve the problem. Then, numbers are gradually revealed until a solution is reached. Numberless word problems are a great way to help students notice the relationships in problem situations before they are presented with a number.

## Step-By-Step Directions for Multi Step Word Problems

I don’t have any catchy acronyms, such as CUBES, for teaching the steps of solving multi-step problems. This isn’t because I don’t like that strategy, but my brain likes breaking things down into detailed steps.

I like detailed steps, because they help guide students through the process of solving multi-step and multi-part problems. It also helps me as I verbally model the steps to solving a multi-part problem. I have a tendency to skip or combine steps, so this helps me break things down into more manageable pieces for students. I’ve found that the more students apply these steps, the more they will internalize the steps and the anchor charts and posters become no longer necessary. You can download the handout with step-by-step directions here .

## Multiple Representations

Multiple representations are used to understand, to develop, and to communicate different mathematical features of the same object or operation, as well as connections between different properties. These representations include graphs and diagrams, tables and grids, formulas, symbols, words, concrete models, and manipulatives.

When I first learned about multiple representations, I was quite frustrated. I knew it was completely unrealistic for students to use multiple representations to solve every word problem they encounter. There simply isn’t enough time during the day. I quickly realized that it is not necessary for students to use this for each and every word problem they solve. However, I do like to have students use this strategy a couple times a week. We often complete one together for guided practice and then I incorporate another opportunity for practice in our centers.

Students need the most modeling and scaffolding with the written response portion, as they typically want to write the shortest and most concise answer possible. To prevent this I require students to restate the question, which helps students focus on what the question is asking. I then encourage my students to label their numbers. Rather than writing I added 10+35, they would write I added ten forks with 35 spoons. I also highly encourage students to incorporate proper math vocabulary.

I love using this graphic organizer with any set of task cards. Since not all problems lend themselves to all types of representations, I only require students to use words and equations for two of their representations. I allow students to select the other two representations they think work best with that particular problem.

We do a few of these together for guided practice, and then I have students work on their own. I slowly begin to remove the scaffolding until students are solving multi-step word problems independently. This can be completed through centers, in students’ math notebooks, or as a part of students’ math warm-up. You can find my Multi-Step Word Problem task cards here .

## Consistent Practice

It’s certainly not enough to introduce and practice multi-step word problems. This is one of those skills that requires practice throughout the entire school year. As I have my students practice, I’m careful not to assign problems with operations or size of numbers that I have not yet introduced. I don’t want my students stumped because of content I have yet to teach. You can find find the full page multi-part problems for third grad e and for fourth grade .

I also incorporate multi-part word problems into our math centers. I love using the fall set ( 3rd grade and 4th grade ) and the winter set ( 3rd grade ).

I hope these ideas and strategies are helpful for you and your students. I’d love to know any additional tips you have for teaching this tricky skill.

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## I’m Ashleigh!

March 6, 2019 at 9:48 AM

Love these ideas. I’d love to get some of the examples (task cards, etc) you’ve shown. Which ones are they? Thanks!

March 13, 2019 at 6:57 AM

I updated the links in the post:)

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## How to Solve Multi-Step Word Problems

Multi-step word problems may initially seem daunting, but with a structured approach, they become manageable and less intimidating. Here, we provide a step-by-step guide to help you navigate these complex problems with ease.

## A Step-by-step Guide to Solving Multi-Step Word Problems

Step 1: understand the problem.

The first step in solving multi-step word problems is to read the problem carefully. Look for keywords and phrases that suggest what arithmetic operation(s) you will need to apply. Words like ‘in total’, ‘altogether’ or ‘sum’ suggest an addition, ‘less than’ or ‘remain’ hint towards subtraction, ‘product’ or ‘times’ indicate multiplication, and ‘quotient’ or ‘divided by’ point to division.

## Step 2: Identify the Steps Needed

After understanding the problem, list out the necessary steps to reach the solution. Each word problem is a unique puzzle with its sequence of operations. Some problems may require you to perform multiplication before addition, while others may need subtraction followed by division.

## Step 3: Assign Variables

For problems with unknown quantities, assign a variable (for example, \(X\) or \(Y\)) to each unknown. This strategy makes it easier to organize information and apply arithmetic operations.

## Step 4: Write Equations

Formulate equations based on the identified steps and assigned variables. Keep in mind the order of operations (BIDMAS/BODMAS) – Brackets, Indices/Orders, Division and Multiplication (from left to right), Addition, and Subtraction (from left to right).

## Step 5: Solve the Equations

Solving the equations might require simple substitution or more advanced techniques like elimination or matrix method in the case of multiple variables. Don’t forget to check your solutions to make sure they satisfy the original equations.

## Step 6: Answer the Question

Finally, ensure that your answer responds to the question asked in the problem. For example, if the problem is asking for the total number of apples, your answer should be a number and mention ‘apples’.

## Practical Example

Let’s apply these steps to a sample problem: “Sarah bought \(2\) books. Each book cost twice as much as a pen. She bought \(4\) pens. If each pen cost \($5\), how much did she spend in total?”

Step 1: The problem involves multiplication (each book cost twice as much as a pen) and addition (total amount spent).

Step 2: First, find the cost of a book and then calculate the total cost.

Step 3: Let’s say \(X\) is the cost of a book.

Step 4: The equations will be \(X = 2 \times the\:cost\:of\:a\:pen\) and Total cost = cost of books + cost of pens.

Step 5: Substituting the given cost of a pen (\($5\)), we find \(X = $10\). The total cost is then calculated as \((2 \times $10) + (4 \times $5) = $40\).

Step 6: The total amount Sarah spent is \($40\).

In conclusion, with a systematic approach, you can effectively solve any multi-step word problem. Remember, practice is the key. The more problems you solve, the better you will become at identifying the necessary steps and solving them accurately.

by: Effortless Math Team about 2 months ago (category: Articles )

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Even though we just got back from Thanksgiving break and Christmas break is literally just around the corner ( how can that be?! ) we’re still working through content like it’s no one’s business. Who’s got down time in 3rd grade? #notthisteacher This week is all about solving multi-step word problems.

Now, any teacher can tell you that word problems on their own are tricky enough. Key-words, important information, sometimes extra information, it’s all hard to sort through when you’re just a kid! Multi-step problems take this stress to a whole new level because now you can’t just put two numbers together and call it quits, you have to do ANOTHER step to solve! #kidsworsenightmare #ijustwannabedone.

So, we’ve implemented a process to help us zero in on the information and decide what steps we have to take to solve those tricky problems! I call it the three-step method, but I am sure there is a formal name for what I’m about to share…

## Solving Word Problems Reminder

First, I reviewed with my class how to solve regular word problems. I’ve taught them the strategy, “Circle, Circle, Underline” (circle information and underline what they want them to do figure out) to help zero in on the important stuff. We solved the problem and we were ready to move on. Then, I added a second question to our previous. I showed the students how to use information gathered from our first step to solve the second question. Once we solved, we headed back to our seats to take notes on the three-step method.

You can read more about our simple chant to help with 1 step word problems here !

I used the gradual release process as teaching structure for this method and it worked really well.

## Modeling Two-Step Word Problems

First, the kiddos wrote out the 3 steps to take to solve a multi-step word problem.

I like having kids write things in their own words. It makes me think they are “owning” their learning. We worked together using the three-step process to solve a sample problem right below.

## Practice With a Buddy

Then, it was their turn to practice with a buddy. I have my class in Kagan style groupings, so I had them turn to their shoulder partner for this part.

They talked it through with their buddy and then glued it in.

## Independent Practice

Finally, they were ready to try the process on their own. They worked through the word problems just like they did with their buddy. And because their buddy was still sitting right by them, they could also double check if they had an issue.

## Number Talking our Answers

Once all the students were ready, we came back together as a class and shared every single person’s way of solving the problem. I wanted each student to take a moment and explain their thought process. Eventually, we’ll move to writing out the why’s and how’s but for now, talking is our first step!

I recorded everyone’s method on the whiteboard. (Yes… my new school has half chalkboard and half whiteboard… so sad!)

- Categories: 3rd Grade , FREEBIE , lesson plans , Math , Math Time Fun , word problems

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- How do you solve word problems?
- To solve word problems start by reading the problem carefully and understanding what it's asking. Try underlining or highlighting key information, such as numbers and key words that indicate what operation is needed to perform. Translate the problem into mathematical expressions or equations, and use the information and equations generated to solve for the answer.
- How do you identify word problems in math?
- Word problems in math can be identified by the use of language that describes a situation or scenario. Word problems often use words and phrases which indicate that performing calculations is needed to find a solution. Additionally, word problems will often include specific information such as numbers, measurements, and units that needed to be used to solve the problem.
- Is there a calculator that can solve word problems?
- Symbolab is the best calculator for solving a wide range of word problems, including age problems, distance problems, cost problems, investments problems, number problems, and percent problems.
- What is an age problem?
- An age problem is a type of word problem in math that involves calculating the age of one or more people at a specific point in time. These problems often use phrases such as 'x years ago,' 'in y years,' or 'y years later,' which indicate that the problem is related to time and age.

word-problems-calculator

- High School Math Solutions – Inequalities Calculator, Exponential Inequalities Last post, we talked about how to solve logarithmic inequalities. This post, we will learn how to solve exponential... Read More

## How to Solve Multi-Step Word Problems

After many years of teaching I have put together a “tool box” of tips and tricks to help students really understand and solve word problems, even the all complicated multi-step problems. Today I would like to share some of those tips! Whether you are a teacher, home school parent, or a parent helping your child with homework, these tips should help! ~Teach Visualization! Regularly practice this with your students! Tell your students to think of math problems like a story they would read in a book. Read one sentence at a time and ask your students to picture the story one sentence at a time in their mind. Tell them to focus on what the actions are and ignore the numbers! Ask who the story is about and what they are doing first, next, last…

~ Analyze the Question! This is OH SO IMPORTANT! I have to hum and drum and go on and on to get some kids to understand why this matters, but if you don’t understand the question part of the problem, how do you know that you are doing the “right math?” For example, if the question asks how many candies the kids ate and your math finds the number of candies left, you have done “good math”, but have not answered the question, so … That was a lot of work and good math to get the wrong answer! So, I repeatedly tell my students to really analyze the question… ie: find out what is being asked before they look at numbers and start any computation. One of my favorite activities for getting this point across is to give my students 2 or 3 word problems with the same story, but different questions. (FREEBIE ALERT!) This gives us a chance to talk about how important the question is.

~ Teach students to look for multi – steps! I tell my students to ask themselves “Who does what? And what happens next? Anything else?” and I also tell them that when they think they have the right answer to re-read the problem and compare the steps to their solution to the problem. This helps them to keep from making that all so common mistake of doing the first step and moving on.

~ Draw Pictures, Make Diagrams, Take Notes! Teach your students to draw pictures of each sentence to help them understand the problem. Making diagrams and notes can also be helpful! Teach your students multiple strategies so they choose what works best for them!

~ Act Problems Out! Use play money, color tiles, counters, etc. to act problems out. If the numbers in the story are big numbers have the students substitute smaller numbers and use objects to act out the actions in the story problem. Once they have actions figured out, the can go back and use the real numbers from the problem.

~Check Back! Check Back! Oh, my oh my! Most kids don’t want to do this, but it is so important! Teach your students to re-read the problem and check to make sure they did all the required work and have the right answer!

~And of Course, LOTS OF PRACTICE! Solving word problems, especially multi-step word problems will require a lot of practice ! Give students chances to practice using warm-ups, group work, stations, homework, and connecting real word problems in different contexts with each new math topic! Need practice problems? Check mine out below. One is even a FREEBIE!

## Share this:

8 thoughts on “ how to solve multi-step word problems ”.

Ah! Yes, I *love* #5! Acting those problems out is always one of those helpful ways for kids who aren’t abstract thinkers to really grasp what is going on. Thanks for all these great ideas!

Like Liked by 1 person

I don’t teach math, but I know kids struggle with word problems. These are great ideas to help them!

Great advice. I score the state Math tests every year, this would be a big help all year!

I’ll be sharing this with my math teacher friends.

Great advice! Absolutely to number 2 – I’m always emphasizing that we first have to figure out what the question is asking! Thanks for sharing.

Cheers, DocRunning

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I always teach my 6th graders that word problems need to be answered with words. I have them highlight the question part of the problem and write a fill in the blank sentence to answer it BEFORE they even start thinking about what math to do to solve it. Then to check that the solution they got makes sense with the sentence they have already written. Otherwise, they try to write a sentence that makes their number make sense even if it doesn’t answer the question that is asked.

I like the idea of the same problem set up but different questions for each one. I’ll certainly be trying that this year.

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Helping with Math

## Multi-Step Math Word Problems

What to expect in this article.

After reading this article, you will be able to analyze, process, and solve multi-step word problems . This lesson will provide help and guidance in solving these types of problems as it includes tips on how to solve a multi-step problem . There are two given examples wherein you can practice and guide your children in honing their mathematical skills. You can also read the common errors and misconceptions of students in solving multi-step problems. Furthermore, this article consists of links directed to worksheets – which you can find at the bottom of the page.

## What is a multi-step word problem?

Math word problems are a critical component of the mathematics curriculum because they help students develop their mental abilities , improve logical analysis , and stimulate creative thinking . Word problems are fun and challenging to solve because they represent actual situations that happen in our world. More so, having the ability to solve math word problems significantly benefits one’s career and personal life.

To be able to solve any math word problem , children must be familiar with the mathematics language associated with the mathematical symbols they are accustomed in order to comprehend the word problem.

A multi-step math word problem is a type of problem wherein you need to solve one or more problems first in order to get the necessary information to solve the question being asked. It usually involves multiple operations and may also involve more than one strand of the curriculum. Say, for example, a multi-step word problem involving area and perimeter may also require the application of ratio and multiplication .

## How to solve multi-step word problems?

In any word problem, the true challenge is deciding which mathematical operation to use. In solving multi-step word problems, there may be two or more operations that you need to work on, and you must solve them in the correct order to be able to get the correct answer. Since word problems describe a real situation in detail, the question being asked can get lost in all the information, especially in a multi-step problem.

To solve multi-step word problems, you may follow these strategy:

- Analyze and understand the problem.
- Break down each sentence of the problem and identify the clues.
- List all the information.
- Identify the unknown in the problem.
- Devise a plan or identify the mathematical operations you are going to use.
- Carry out the plan.
- Label your final answer.

## Multi-Step Word Problem #1

Step 1: Break down each sentence of the problem and identify the information needed to solve the problem.

- The first sentence states that “Steven is reading a book that has 260 pages.” Hence, the total number of pages of that particular book is 260 .
- The second statement says, “He read 35 pages on Monday night and 40 pages on Tuesday night.”

Step 2: Analyze the question of the problem and find the keyword for the unknown. The last sentence of the problem, “How many pages does he has left to read?” asks us how many more pages Steven needs to read. Hence, we are going to find the number of pages he still needs to read.

Step 3: Based on the second statement, Steven read 35 pages on a Monday night and 45 pages on a Tuesday night. Hence, we will use addition in getting the total number of pages he read for 2 nights. Thus,

35 + 40 = 75

Therefore, Steven read 75 pages in the span of two days. However, that is not the answer we are looking for.

Step 4: Since we are asked to get the number of pages he still needs to read, the first sentence on our problem shows us that there are 260 pages in the book. Hence, we need to subtract the number of pages Steven has read from the total number of pages of the book. Thus,

260 – 75 = 185

Therefore, Steven has 185 pages left to read.

## Multi-Step Word Problem #2

Jesy bought a dozen of boxes, each containing 24 highlighter pens inside. Each box costs \$8. Jesy repacked five of these boxes into packages of six highlighters each and sold them for \$3 per package. She sold the rest of the highlighters at the price of three pens for \$2. How much profit did Jesy make?

- The statement, “Jesy bought a dozen of boxes , each containing 24 highlighter pens inside,” tells us that there are a dozen of boxes that contains 24 highlighters. A dozen means there are 12 boxes .
- The second sentence, “Each box costs \$8”, means Jesy bought 12 boxes at \$8 each .
- “Jesy repacked five of these boxes into packages of six highlighters each and sold them for \ $3 per package ” means that Jesy separated 5 boxes from the original 12 boxes to be repacked at a package of six, which was sold at \$3 each.
- “She sold the rest of the highlighters at the price of three pens for \$2 ” means that Jesy sold the remaining highlighters and bundled it for 3 pens for \$2.

Step 2: Analyze the question of the problem and find the keyword. The last sentence of the problem, “How much profit did Jesy make?” asks us how much profit Jesy earned after repacking the highlighter pens. Profit is defined as the amount earned minus the amount spent to buy the highlighters.

Step 3: Based on the first statement, Jesy bought 12 boxes containing 24 highlighters. The follow-up statement that says, “Each box costs \$8” refers to the price of each box. In this particular statement, we can find the total expenditures of Jesy for the highlighter pens by simply multiplying the total number of boxes to \$8. Hence,

12 x \$8 = \$96

This means that Jesy spent \$96 to buy all the highlighters. However, that is not the question being asked. Hence, we need to work on the follow-up statements and find more clues to get Jesy’s profit in selling highlighters.

Step 4: The next statement says that “Jesy repacked five of these boxes into packages of six highlighters each and sold them for \$3 per package” means that Jesy separated 5 boxes from the dozen to be repacked at a package of six, which was sold at \$3 each. Based on this statement, we need to do three things:

- Find the total number of highlighters she got from separating 5 boxes;
- Find the total number of packages she made by repacking it by 6; and
- Find how much money she made by selling the sets of 6 at \$3.

Step 5: To find the total number of highlighters she got from separating 5 boxes, we simply multiply 5 by the number of highlighters inside the box. Based on the first statement, each box contains 24 highlighters. Hence,

5 x 24 = 120

This means Jesy repacked a total of 120 highlighter pens.

Step 6: To find the total number of packages she made by repacking 120 highlighter pens by 6, we will divide 120 by 6. Thus,

So, she was able to make 20 sets of 6 highlighter pens.

Step 7: The next thing we need to do is find how much money she made by selling the sets of 6 by \$3. This can be done by multiplying 20 sets by \$3. Hence,

20 x \$3 = \$60

Thus, Jesy made \$60 from the 20 sets of 6 highlighter pens.

Step 8: The third sentence, “She sold the rest of the highlighters at the price of three pens for \$2” means that Jesy sold the remaining highlighters and bundled it for 3 pens for \$2. From this statement, we need to work on four things first:

- Find the remaining number of boxes;
- Find the total number of highlighter pens she repacked;
- Find the number of sets she repacked by making sets of 3; and
- Find how much money Jesy made by selling packs of 3 at \$2.

Step 9: To find the remaining number of boxes, we need to go through some of the problem statements. Based on the first statement, we have 12 boxes, then 5 boxes were separated to make a highlighter set of 6. Hence, we will subtract 5 from 12.

So, we still have 7 remaining boxes.

Step 10: To find the total number of highlighter pens she repacked, we need to multiply the remaining 7 boxes to the number of highlighter pens inside the box. Going back to the information we already have, we know that there are 24 highlighter pens inside a box. Thus,

7 x 24 = 168

This means Jesy repacked a total of 168 highlighter pens.

Step 11: Find the number of sets Jesy made by repacking 168 highlighter pens by 3. This can be done by dividing 168 by 3. Hence,

Thus, Jesy was able to make 56 sets of 3 highlighter pens.

Step 12: Determine how much money Jesy made by selling each set for \$2. Hence,

56 x \$2 = \$112

This means Jesy made \$112 by selling 3 highlighter pens for \$2.

Step 13: The question asks us to determine the profit Jesy made by selling the highlighter pens. In order to find the profit, we need the information of:

- How much did Jesy spend on the highlighter. In Step 3, we found out that she paid \$96 on buying all the highlighter pens.
- How much money does Jesy make on selling packs of 6 highlighters for \$3. In Step 7, we already know that she made \$60; and
- How much money does Jesy make on selling sets of 3 highlighter pens for \$2. In Step 12, we found out that she made \$112.

Step 14: Before getting the profit Jesy made, we need to know the total money Jesy made in selling the highlighters. Hence, we will simply add the money of \$60 and \$112. Thus,

\$60 + \$112 = \$172

However, \$172 is not the profit Jesy made. This is just the money she was able to make in selling the highlighter pens.

Step 15: Lastly, we will subtract the money Jesy spent on buying the highlighters from the money she made by selling it to find the profit. Thus,

\ $172 – \$96 = \$76

Therefore, Jesy made a profit of \$76 by selling the highlighter pens.

You can tell that there are lots of things to remember with a multi-step word problem, even when the problem itself is relatively easy. But that’s what makes these problems challenging: you get to use both sides of your brain – your logical math skills and your verbal language skills. That’s why they are often more fun to do than problems that are just numbers without the details and context that word problems give you. The better you understand how to solve them, the more fun they are to solve.

## What are the common errors in solving multi-step word problems?

Mathematical word problems can be challenging to solve. To obtain the correct answer, children must read the words and carefully analyze the problem, determine the appropriate math operation, and then perform the calculations correctly. An error in working on one of the steps may result in a wrong answer.

Here’s a list of some errors students make when solving multi-step word problems:

- The most common error of students is stopping at one process if they solve one problem. Consider the same word problem about Steven.

“Steven is reading a book that has 260 pages. He read 35 pages on Monday night and 40 pages on Tuesday night. How many pages does he has left to read?”

Most students recognize that they need to add 35 and 40 together to get the total number of pages Steven has read so far. Most errors occur when students stop at one process. Adding 35 + 40 will tell you that Steven has read 75 pages so far, but if we go back to the question you are being asked, you will notice that 75 pages are not the answer you are being asked. Thus, we still need to take another step to get there. Steven has read 75 pages so far, but the questions asked us to solve the number of pages he has left to read. Hence, subtracting 75 from the total number of pages of the book makes much more sense.

- Students get confused with the mathematical operation to use. Even if children are strong readers, they may struggle to pick up on clues in word problems. These clues are phrases that instruct children on how to solve a problem, such as adding or subtracting. The children are then required to convert these phrases into a number sentence in order to solve word problems.

## How to teach multi-step problems to children?

There are certain activities or practices that you can try with your child in order to develop their skills in solving multi-step problems.

- The first and most important skill in working with multi-step is being able to understand the problem clearly. Hence, practicing your child in slowly reading and visualizing problems is the first step in implementing our effective reading comprehension strategies.
- Practice your child in recognizing mathematics terms and vocabulary that are used in word problems. There are keywords or clues that we can easily spot in a word problem if we familiarize ourselves with these mathematical terms.

Let’s look at the sample words related to addition, subtraction , multiplication, and division.

However, some English words can sometimes be confusing as they may mean differently depending on the context.

Let’s look at the table below:

## Recommended Worksheets

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## Unit 12: Multi-step equations

Equations with variables on both sides.

- Intro to equations with variables on both sides (Opens a modal)
- Equations with variables on both sides: 20-7x=6x-6 (Opens a modal)
- Equation with variables on both sides: fractions (Opens a modal)
- Equation with the variable in the denominator (Opens a modal)
- Equations with variables on both sides Get 3 of 4 questions to level up!
- Equations with variables on both sides: decimals & fractions Get 3 of 4 questions to level up!

## Equations with parentheses

- Equations with parentheses (Opens a modal)
- Multi-step equations review (Opens a modal)
- Equations with parentheses Get 3 of 4 questions to level up!
- Equations with parentheses: decimals & fractions Get 3 of 4 questions to level up!

## Number of solutions to equations

- Number of solutions to equations (Opens a modal)
- Worked example: number of solutions to equations (Opens a modal)
- Creating an equation with no solutions (Opens a modal)
- Creating an equation with infinitely many solutions (Opens a modal)
- Number of solutions to equations Get 3 of 4 questions to level up!
- Number of solutions to equations challenge Get 3 of 4 questions to level up!

## Equations word problems

- Sums of consecutive integers (Opens a modal)
- Sum of integers challenge (Opens a modal)
- Sums of consecutive integers Get 3 of 4 questions to level up!

## Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems

Solving multi-step addition and subtraction word problems can help students see the relationship between operations, as well as practice their calculations. When I teach subtraction, I also like to show how students can use addition to check their work! Students often think that they are done when they arrive at the answer, but it is my mission to show them that they can do just one more step to check and make sure their work is correct. Addition and subtraction work together to help each other out.

## The Art of Check Writing

Although the art of writing a check and balancing a checkbook is going away, those processes still have great value for practicing addition and subtraction. I like to present math problems with money, budgets and purchasing items, but these days students tell me just to “charge it to a card”. I have been tempted to find my old carbon copy paper receipts and bring them into class. Just the other week, we had our lawnmower repaired. The man ran a small, old business and he wrote out all of the receipts and transactions by hand, using the box with carbon copy receipts. He wrote down the price of the parts, added the taxes and charges, and summed it up – BY HAND! The only thing missing for a good math problem was writing the word form onto a check.

## Set up Shop in Your Classroom

So I thought, why not create a shop in my classroom! Students can be the shopkeepers and the customers, but no charge cards allowed! Shopkeepers would have to write the receipt, and the customers would have to write a check for the exact amount. The students would have to read scenarios and decide what to buy. I could even give them a budget or a sales goal and they would have to periodically check the difference by subtracting. It would be a lesson embedded in real life addition and subtraction word problems.

## Set up for Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems

- Print or create price tags from page 6 of the worksheet for the list of items located pages 7-10.
- Set up “items” and pictures around the room. There are pictures provided on pages 7-10 on the worksheet , but you can always supplement or creatively add items of your own.
- Set up 5 shopkeeper stations with blank copies of “Receipts.” (See worksheet page 3)
- Set up each shop with a Sales Record to keep track of sales and income. Each shop has a distinct sales goal, such as $99, $250, $400, $505, $888.
- $99 – Bargain Basement
- $250 – Quarter Millie’s Party Store
- $400 – Four Double Zero
- $505 – 505 Faves
- $888 – Great Eights
- Provide each student with 6 blank checks and 1 balance sheet. (See worksheet pages 4-5.)
- Provide each student with a copy of the Addition and Subtraction Worksheet .
- If you have little bells or signs, you can set up the shopkeeper with things like an “Open/Closed” sign or “Ring bell for service”.

## Launch the Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems

If you have time, set up some open/closed shop signs to create the feel of a store in the classroom. You can even have students create a checkbook with their checks.

Introduce the activity by saying “Today we are going to go shopping!” Explain that everyone will rotate through and get a chance to run a shop as well as go shopping for items on the worksheet. The students will not actually pick up items and keep them, but you can have things on display or just have photos and a price list.

Explain the vocabulary and show an example of each: (All are found on the worksheet .)

this is used to write an exact amount of money. It takes the money out of your bank account and gives it to the store or person it is written to when cashed at the bank.

## Balance Sheet

This is a record of how much money you have and how much you spend. The balance is the amount of money people have to spend. Use the balance sheet to keep track of the money. Tell the students that everyone starts with a balance of $445.00. The shoppers can write a brief description of what they buy in the white rows and then subtract the amount spent from the balance. Explain that the students can do the subtraction vertically in the balance column. The shaded rows show the running balance, and the white rows show how much is spent each time. Subtract any money spent to get the new balance.Tell your students “When you reach zero – you are out of money!”

This is a set amount of money made from selling goods that sales people try to reach. If you have a sales goal, you can subtract any sales to see how much more money you need to reach the goal.

This lists the items being purchased and how much they each cost. The receipt also gives the total cost of the purchase. It is a record to show the sale.

## Use this scenario to model the work students will do:

“You walk into the store Four Double Zero and decide to buy headphones for $125 and a case for $34. What is your purchase price?”

Together, work through the addition. Remind the students that BOTH the customer and the shopkeeper must do the addition. Then the shopkeeper tells the customer what to pay. (There are no taxes or charges unless indicated in the problem on the worksheet).

## Pass Out Student Checkbooks

Give every student their checks or checkbook. Use the first blank check to write the demo check together. Every check must have:

- The name of the store or person you are writing the check to
- The purchase amount in word form
- The purchase amount in standard form
- The Memo line – items purchased

## Then demonstrate the following:

- The customer must subtract: $455 – $159
- The Storekeeper must subtract it from the Sales Goal $400- $159

After the demo, space the students out among the stores. Assign 1-2 students as shopkeepers at each shop and have the remaining students walk around and shop using the worksheet scenarios.

You can provide 5-10 minutes of shopping and then switch roles, or you can walk around and switch out shopkeepers as you see fit.

- Each student has a Budget of $455 for their entire shopping trip.
- The scenarios on the worksheet ask students to buy at least 2 items from each shop. Some of the word problems are set, others have a choice of items.
- Customers indicate the items and say the prices. The shopkeeper writes the prices and adds them up. The Customer also adds them up and they check.
- Once the price is determined, the customer writes a check using standard and word form and the name of the store, then signs and dates it.
- The customer then subtracts the purchase from his/her running balance.
- The shopkeeper cashes the check, adds it to the sales list and subtracts it from the sales goal for that shop.
- Customers must check their balance after each purchase. Customers will keep a running balance throughout their shopping experience.
- Shopkeepers must check their Sales goals and how much more money they need after each customer. Shopkeepers can keep a running total while they are in charge of that shop. However, when a new shopkeeper comes in, they must start with the original sales goal when subtracting.
- Depending on the class size, start each shop with 1-2 shopkeepers. Then have the remaining students go around to the available shopkeepers and work through their transactions. Switch roles when appropriate.

## Reflection on Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems

Walk around and help the shopkeepers and the customers as they work through the purchasing process.

At the end, share what people decided to buy and talk about the processes of making a transaction.

## Ask questions such as:

- Which store did you like the best?
- Did you ever add up the numbers and get a different sum than the shopkeeper/customer? How did you resolve the price issue?
- Why do you need to subtract your purchases from the budget?
- How did you keep track of your purchases?
- Did any shopkeepers reach their sales goal before leaving their “shift”?
- In the end, how could you check the total amount of purchases you made today? Did you stay under budget?
- Did anyone go over their budget?
- Have students create a price list of items and write 4 of their own word problems. Give them a sales goal and come up with 4 different ways to reach that goal. Can they hit the goal exactly?
- Research prices of items, but make sure the students find whole numbers. (Many times ticket prices tend to be whole numbers). Ask how much money the school would need to budget if the class went on a trip to that theater, sports game, or show.

## FREE Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems Worksheets and Resources

These are all PDF Files. They will open and print easily. The Student Edition Files are labeled SE and the Teacher Editions Files are labeled TE. Click the links below to download the different resources.

2-4 Assignment SE – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems 2-4 Assignment TE – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems( Members Only ) 2-4 Bell Work SE – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems (PDF) 2-4 Bell Work TE – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems ( Members Only ) 2-4 Exit Quiz SE – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems (PDF) 2-4 Exit Quiz TE – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems ( Members Only ) 2-4 Exit Quiz SE – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems (PDF) 2-4 Guided Notes TE – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems ( Members Only ) 2-4 Interactive Notebook – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems (PDF) 2-4 Lesson Plan – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems (PDF) 2-4 Online Activities – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems ( Members Only ) 2-4 Slide Show – Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems (PDF)

## Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems Worksheets and Resources

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## Don’t Forget to Pin this Activity on Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems…

Want to see the rest of the activities for unit 2 – multi-digit whole number addition and subtraction.

- 2-1 Multi-Digit Whole Number Addition
- 2-2 Solving Two-Step Addition Word Problems
- 2-3 Multi-Digit Whole Number Subtraction
- 2-4 Solving Two-Step Subtraction Word Problems
- 2-5 Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems
- 2-6 Creating Word Problems Involving Addition and Subtraction

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## Multi-Step Equation Word Problems

Related Topics: More Lessons for Grade 8 Math Worksheets

Examples, solutions, videos, and worksheets to help Grade 8 students learn how to solve multi-step equation word problems.

Learning how to solve word problems is a very important in Algebra. In this lesson, we will learn how to solve multi-step equation word problems.

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The Single-Step Format The sample problem I used in this anchor chart is a SINGLE-STEP problem, and I would highly encourage you to teach this format using a single-step format, then move on later to using it for multi-step (hang tight! I will address using this format with multi-step problems soon!).

0:00 / 4:49 Multi-Step Word Problems Growing Learners 2.52K subscribers 647 78K views 2 years ago Students will learn how to solve multi step word problems using strategies such as place...

Multi-step word problems Multi-step word problems with whole numbers Google Classroom After collecting eggs from his chickens, Dale puts the eggs into cartons to sell. Dale fills 15 15 cartons and has 7 7 eggs left over. Each carton holds 12 12 eggs. How many eggs did Dale collect? eggs Stuck? Review related articles/videos or use a hint.

Step 1: Read and Visualize The first thing we do with a multi-step word problem is read it slowly and visualize what is happening. This first step is about using our good reading comprehension strategies. I ask students to close their eyes and imagine the events as they take place. Julie had 82 stickers. Imagine a girl with some stickers.

Multi-part or multi-step word problems has to be one of — if not THE — most challenging parts of the year. I've found that saving multi-step word problems for the very end of the year or right before testing is the least efficient way to teach this tricky skill.

Step 1: The problem involves multiplication (each book cost twice as much as a pen) and addition (total amount spent). Step 2: First, find the cost of a book and then calculate the total cost. Step 3: Let's say \ (X\) is the cost of a book.

Basic (Grades 2 - 3) Multiple Step, Basic #1 FREE Solve each of the multi-step word problems on this page. Problems contain basic numbers of 20 or less. Each problem can be solved without knowledge of multiplication or division. 2nd and 3rd Grades View PDF Multiple Step, Basic #2

First, the kiddos wrote out the 3 steps to take to solve a multi-step word problem. I like having kids write things in their own words. It makes me think they are "owning" their learning. We worked together using the three-step process to solve a sample problem right below. Practice With a Buddy Then, it was their turn to practice with a buddy.

To solve word problems, even the more complicated ones, follow these three steps: visualize the problem, write the equations, and solve the equations. Learn how to solve multi-step...

Here are steps to solving a multi-step problem: Step 1: Circle and underline. Circle only the necessary information and underline what ultimately needs to be figured out. Step 2: Figure out the first step/problem in the paragraph and solve it. Last step: Find the answer by using the information from Steps 1 and 2.

Tell students today they'll review how to solve multi-step word problems by rephrasing the question, drawing a picture, and labeling important information for each question. Beginning Allow students to use their home language (L1) or new language (L2) in their discussions. Use visuals as you read the word problem.

Represent multi-step word problems using equations. A building has 6 6 homes per floor and 3 3 floors. On the first floor, there are 4 4 penguins per home. On the second and third floor, there are 3 3 penguins per home. Which equation can we use to find \maroonD {p} p, the total number of penguins living in the building?

In other words, 150/20 is 7.5 so we already have half of the ratio (The answer must be an equivalent ratio to 3 : 20). __:150. To get the last half of the answer, we must multiply 7.5 by 3 because we already found out that 150/20 is 7.5. 3 x 7.5 is 22.5 so the answer is 22.5 : 150. Hope this helps!

How do you solve word problems? To solve word problems start by reading the problem carefully and understanding what it's asking. Try underlining or highlighting key information, such as numbers and key words that indicate what operation is needed to perform.

The key to solving a multi-step word problem is to carefully read the problem for important information. This is how you build your equation. Sometimes, word problems will contain...

3 May 2016 How to Solve Multi-Step Word Problems Posted in addition, elementary, freebies, guided math, hands on learning, math, problem solving by Mrs. Kirk After many years of teaching I have put together a "tool box" of tips and tricks to help students really understand and solve word problems, even the all complicated multi-step problems.

Recommended Worksheets What to expect in this article? After reading this article, you will be able to analyze, process, and solve multi-step word problems. This lesson will provide help and guidance in solving these types of problems as it includes tips on how to solve a multi-step problem.

594 Share 83K views 2 years ago Fourth Grade Check out the game at https://www.magemath.com/ Learn how to solve multi step word problems for 4th grade in this fun video. We help kids learn to...

Pre-algebra 15 units · 179 skills. Unit 1 Factors and multiples. Unit 2 Patterns. Unit 3 Ratios and rates. Unit 4 Percentages. Unit 5 Exponents intro and order of operations. Unit 6 Variables & expressions. Unit 7 Equations & inequalities introduction. Unit 8 Percent & rational number word problems.

Set up for Solving Multi-Step Addition and Subtraction Word Problems. Print or create price tags from page 6 of the worksheet for the list of items located pages 7-10. Set up "items" and pictures around the room. There are pictures provided on pages 7-10 on the worksheet, but you can always supplement or creatively add items of your own.

Frequently Asked Questions What are the 4 steps for solving algebra word problems? Algrebra word problems can be solves in four steps. Step 1: Analyze the problem. Step 2: Gather...

Examples, solutions, videos, and worksheets to help Grade 8 students learn how to solve multi-step equation word problems. Learning how to solve word problems is a very important in Algebra. In this lesson, we will learn how to solve multi-step equation word problems. Two problems illustrating how to solve word problems using equations.

Step-by-Step Solution: 1) Combine the similar terms with variable m m, and constants on both sides of the equation. 2) Add 5m 5m to both sides of the equation. It will keep the variable on the left side and eliminate the variable on the right. 3) Add 14 14 to both sides.

Advanced Problem-Solving: Multi-step word problems require students to identify the sequence of steps needed to find the solution, strengthening logical thinking and tactical planning.