Word problems. Just the sound of that term may bring back bad memories. I know it does for me. As an elementary student, I despised word problems with ever fiber of my body. Why? Because, as a struggling reader, I struggled to read and comprehend them. I also wasn’t sure what the problem wanted me to do. It would have helped tremendously if I had studied some **word problem vocabulary** among other things (like some steps to problem solving).

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### Word Problem Vocabulary Sorts

I’m definitely not an expert in math, but I *do* know that there is reading involved with word problems. And I do know that lack of vocabulary and lack of figuring out unknown words leads to a breakdown in comprehension, no matter what kids are reading.

Just recently, I created some word problem vocabulary cards {FREE download at the end of this post} for my 3rd grader, ALuv. As we’ve worked through the different operations this year, we’ve talked about these terms. Now that we’re at the end of our year, I thought it was time to do a little vocabulary review {before that fun standardized end-of-the-year test}.

One of the things we did with our word cards was sort them in our tabletop pocket chart. {Seeing that it’s LEGO week, I tried to make the background of each card look like LEGO bricks.}

We also incorporated our LEGO bricks into the word sorts, too. I wrote the vocabulary words on LEGO bricks and we read and sorted them together. He really liked doing this, as he is a wee bit obsessed with LEGO bricks {or building with anything, really}.

These terms are not meant to just be memorized and sorted. They are meant to be applied to real word problems. So, we have looked for these terms as one the steps to solving word problems.

### Books for Teaching Problem Solving to Kids

Since my brain is wired more for literacy, here are a couple of math books I’ve purchased and used *heavily* as a classroom teacher and as a homeschooling mom.

** About Teaching Mathematics** by Marilyn Burns is one that I devoured. I’m kind of shocked at the price of the newer edition {the 3rd edition is a little less}, but it is well worth it, in my opinion. Burns’ focus is helping kids move beyond just computation {although that is thoroughly covered} to applying that knowledge to real life situations and problems.

If you teach in the elementary grades, * Introduction to Problem Solving* {3-5 grades} has been a life-saver for me. After purchasing the problem solving book for PreK-2nd grades a few years ago, which can longer be purchased, it seems}, I purchased the one for 3rd through 5th grades. The problem solving steps are taught as well as a chapter on each of the problem solving strategies, like making a table, choosing an operation, or finding a pattern. By the way, if you teach PreK-2nd grades, I’d also recommend this one for you!

I have one more recommendation that I have not used, but heard good things about from a Reading in Math teacher training I did this past year, ** Teaching Struggling Readers to Tackle Math Word Problems** for Grades 3-5. The thing that struck me about this book was how it ties the basic reading comprehension strategies with comprehending word problems.

## Download these FREE Word Problem Vocabulary Cards HERE.

~Becky

Laura @Lalymom says

Such a cool use of blocks, great idea!

Bethany says

I love the idea of using legos to review the related vocabulary terms! That’s a fun and hands-on way to practice! I actually just wrote about the importance of teaching and understanding math vocabulary so I’m excited to see this! 🙂 As always, thanks for sharing!

thisreadingmama says

So cool. I sent you an email, Bethany. 🙂

Laura Hamel says

I love both ideas of lego stacking vocab words

and the pocket chart for different ways to represent + and -,etc.

So creative!!!!!!

Thanks for sharing!