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Students often wonder why they’re learning a given math concept and word problems come in handy to help them realize the practical application of what is being taught. However, teaching word problems can be challenging, both for teachers and students.
This is why we’ll share simple tips on teaching multiplication word problems (grade 4) for teachers and homeschooling parents. Read on to learn more.
What Are Multiplication Word Problems?
Multiplication word problems are math problems that represent actual situations from the real world and involve multiplication.
However, when solving multiplication word problems, children also come across multi-step word problems. These are problems with more than one operation, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.
How to Solve Multiplication Word Problems (Grade 4)
Start With Simple Multiplication Word Problems
Explain to students that the trickiest part of any word problem is understanding what is being asked. If they don’t know what they’re being asked to do, it will be very difficult to solve the math problem.
Sometimes, a word problem involves so many details that the key question gets lost. Explain to students that this is why it’s crucial to identify what’s important in a given word problem and what isn’t.
Encourage students to use a highlighter when solving multiplication word problems to highlight the keywords, key numbers, and key operations in a word problem. Provide an easy example where this can be applied, such as:
Jeremy has 7 caramels and he has 5 times as many marshmallows. How many more marshmallows than caramels does he have?
Explain that the thing we’re trying to find out is how many more marshmallows than caramels Jeremy has – this is the main question that students are asked. To answer the question, explain that they’ll use the underlined key information and perform two steps.
The first step is to figure out how many marshmallows Jeremy has; he has 5 x 7 as many marshmallows or 35 marshmallows. In other words, the first step is multiplication.
In the second step, once children are aware that Jeremy has 35 marshmallows and 7 caramels, they can easily find out how many more marshmallows than caramels he has by subtracting the total number of caramels from the total number of marshmallows, that is:
35 – 7 = 28
So Jeremy has 28 more marshmallows than caramels, which children could find out by engaging in two steps – multiplication and subtraction.
Move on to ‘Wordier’ Multiplication Word Problems
Don’t jump into extremely wordy problems right away, but gradually transition to word problems of moderate difficulty that involve several steps, such as:
Mr. Conner bought 15 packets of pencils for his students. 5 of the packets had 6 pencils and the other 10 of the packet had 8 pencils. How many pencils did Mr.Conner buy in all?
Explain to students that after they underline the important information, they need to assess which steps they need to take. For starters, make sure they understand they’re trying to find out the answer to the key question – how many pencils Mr. Conner bought in total?
To be able to answer this question, explain to them that they’ll use the key information that’s highlighted in the word problem as we did before, taking one step at a time. Point out that we know there are 5 packets of pencils that have 6 pencils each, which means:
5 x 6 = 30 pencils
The other key information they have is that there are 10 packets of pencils with 8 pencils each, that is:
10 x 8 = 80 pencils
Finally, point out that we’ll add the total number of pencils in 5 of the packets and in 10 of the packets, or:
30 + 80 = 110 pencils
So, the answer to “how many pencils Mr. Conner bought in total” is 110 pencils. This multi-step problem involved two multiplication steps and one addition step to get the right answer.
Activities to Practice Multiplication Word Problems (Grade 4)
Use this Assignment Worksheet (Members Only) to further reinforce children’s skills in solving multiplication word problems. The worksheet contains a dozen multiplication word problems that contain relatable and fun examples.
For instance, in part A of the worksheet, students are asked to solve a number of challenges connected to 4th graders in Mr. Vincent’s class that went to an amusement park last week, bought ice cream, and visited a haunted house.
To prepare for this activity, print out one copy of the worksheet (Members Only) per student. Make sure to bring a sufficient number of markers with different colors that students can use to highlight the key information in the math problems.
Explain to students that they’ll work in pairs of two to solve the word problems. Hand out the worksheets and markers to each pair. After a pair is done, they present their worksheet in front of the entire class by explaining each step they took to solve the given multi-step word problem.
Online Math Activity
Use this online math activity from Khan Academy to solve multiplication word problems. There’s a big variety of multi-step word problems that involve multiplication as a step that children will definitely enjoy.
Make sure that there’s a suitable technical device for each student (such as a laptop, iPad, or even a phone) so that they play individually. Since these online word problems can be done individually, they’re also a great resource for parents who are homeschooling their children.
Each question even contains a hint or a video in case the child gets stuck.
Before You Leave…
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This article is based on:
Unit 3 – Multi-Digit Whole Number Multiplication
- 3-1 Area and Perimeter Models
- 3-2 Multiplying by 10, 100, and 1,000
- 3-3 Multiplying Two-Digit by One-Digit Number
- 3-4 Multiplying Four-Digit by One-Digit Number
- 3-5 Multiplying Two-digit by Two-digit Number
- 3-6 Solve Multiplication Word Problems (Two-Step and Multi-Step)