Choose an Operation

Blair Turner
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Blair Turner
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Help students learn to choose an operation by teaching them to read word problems critically. By using the same numbers and subjects across multiple problems, students will be required to really think through the “story” of each problem. This resource is designed to help students determine the known and unknown information, identify part-part-whole relationships, and write an equation that matches a problem.


•4 Work Mats (Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division):

Each work mat includes a known/unknown chart, part/part/whole relationship, a space for students to glue the word problem, and a space for students to write an equation.

•10 Word Problem Pages (40 Total Word Problems):

Each page includes 4 word problems - one for each operation. The word problems on each page all use the same numbers and use very similar language, so students will need to read carefully to determine what is known/unknown, and what operation needs to be used. Student directions are also included on each page.

Added 2/3/15:
I've added a reference page with the part-part-whole diagrams for all 4 operations. This can be found on page 17.

Cut out the word problems on each page. Read each problem carefully. Decide which operation should be used to solve each problem. Glue each problem on the correct work mat. Complete the work mat by filling in the known/unknown chart and writing an equation to solve.

The work mats can be reproduced and used with every word problem page. You will need 4 work mats for each set of 4 word problems. Alternately, you may choose to laminate the work mats and word problem pages in order to create a reusable center activity.

Third grade teachers: Since some of the multiplication problems will require 2x1 digit multiplication, it is up to you whether you would like students to solve those problems (using repeated addition or other strategies), or simply set up the equation.


© Blair Turner 2013
Materials are intended for personal use in one classroom only. For use in multiple classrooms, please purchase additional licenses.
Total Pages
17 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Solve two-step word problems using the four operations. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding.
Use multiplication and division within 100 to solve word problems in situations involving equal groups, arrays, and measurement quantities, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.
Interpret whole-number quotients of whole numbers, e.g., interpret 56 ÷ 8 as the number of objects in each share when 56 objects are partitioned equally into 8 shares, or as a number of shares when 56 objects are partitioned into equal shares of 8 objects each. For example, describe a context in which a number of shares or a number of groups can be expressed as 56 ÷ 8.
Interpret products of whole numbers, e.g., interpret 5 × 7 as the total number of objects in 5 groups of 7 objects each. For example, describe a context in which a total number of objects can be expressed as 5 × 7.
Multiply a whole number of up to four digits by a one-digit whole number, and multiply two two-digit numbers, using strategies based on place value and the properties of operations. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.


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