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Numeracy: Step to it

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By John DabellMaths Coordinator at Lawn Primary School in Derby

Use practical challenges and a simple four-step procedure to develop effective problem-solving skills

young girl writing

Provide children with a problem-solving method to help them investigate maths problems

Maths is knee-deep in problems, yet how many learners know a logical and systematic approach to solving them? It is essential that we make explicit a problem-solving method for children to follow in order that they approach problems and investigations with a structured plan of action in mind. There are four steps to learn and apply:

Step 1 – Understand the problem

Step 2 – Plan a strategy

Step 3 – Solve the problem

Step 4 – Reflect

Troubled waters

To illustrate the problem-solving process step-by-step, take a look at the following problem:

Farmer Fog went to the market in Sandford and bought a fox, a duck and a bag of grain for £65. To get home, he has to cross Loch Angle. He can take himself and one other thing in the boat at a time. However, unless he is supervising everything, the duck will gobble the grain and the fox will guzzle the duck. How can he get all three across the Loch successfully and how many crossings will it take him?

Step 1

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  1. Hannah Cartwright
    on 13 March 2011

    Thank you!

    A brilliant, informed article on problem solving. There is so little guidance on how to teach problems and what stategies to use and I found this article to be of great use for my lessons. I am going to try the frog lesson next week. Thank you!