Problem solving strategies

We are going to begin to learn 10 problem solving strategies to put into your Problem Solving Toolbox.


For any kind of problem solving you need to select the appropriate equipment to help you with the task. But you will always need your BRAIN!! 😉



E.G. (for example)

  • cubes
  • calculators
  • paper
  • squared paper
  • pencils
  • shapes
  • scissors
  • glue
  • people
  • counters
  • white board & marker

Not everyone will need the same equipment.

It really depends on you and the way you think.

And on the problem you are trying to solve.


Tools and strategies for your Problem Solving Toolbox


ACT IT OUT – This involves using manipulatives, or people, or drawings to help your thinking.

Act it out

DRAW A PICTURE OR DIAGRAM – This needs you to draw out the problem to help your thinking

Draw a picture or a diagram

MAKE A LIST, TABLE OR CHART – You will need to sketch out some kind of organizing tool for this type of problem

Make a list, table, or chart

GUESS AND CHECK – estimation and checking using any of the strategies for number operations you have learned

Guess and check

FIND A PATTERN – paper, pencil, eyes, focus, and brain work is needed for this!

Find a pattern

WORK BACKWARDS – maybe using a white board and marker

Work Backward

LOGICAL REASONING – careful thinking and a way to see your thinking (drawing, writing, sketching) will help here, and use of any learned strategy for organizing your thinking

Logical reasoning

WRITE AN EQUATION OR A NUMBER SENTENCE – sometimes using numbers to make sense of your thinking will help solve a problem

Write an equation or a number sentence

CHOOSE THE CORRECT OPERATION – use all your prior knowledge of number operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) to help you

Choose the correct operation

SOLVE A SIMPLER PROBLEM make a big problem smaller by chunking it into smaller pieces, and solve each piece at a time to get to the end of your problem

Solve a s simpler problem



Materials taken from: –

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 10.13.58 AM


“POW – Problem of the week” – G3-4  High interest Math problems to reinforce your curriculum

(The Mailbox, Reproducible materials  — ISBN 1-56234-522-2)



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