Math Problem Solving Task Cards - 7 Problem Solving Strategies for Grades 3 - 4

Rated 4.79 out of 5, based on 81 reviews
81 Ratings
The Teacher Studio
Grade Levels
3rd - 5th, Homeschool
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
20 pages
Share this resource
Report this resource to TPT
The Teacher Studio


Do your students struggle to solve word problems? Do you struggle to know how to help? This set of task cards is like problem solving "professional development"--everything you need to teach 7 key word problem solving strategies.

This resource came to be because for years I felt that I did not invest enough time in explicitly teaching problem solving strategies. I gave my students a TON of word problems…but I think I made too many assumptions that they had a decent “toolbox” of strategies to pull from.

I vowed to be better…and to start off by modeling and clearly teaching these 7 strategies—in hopes that students would begin to internalize them and draw upon them in future problems. These problems are a fantastic way to work on the Standards for Mathematical Practice!

*Make a list

*Guess and check

*Use objects to model

*Make a table

*Find a pattern

*Work backward

*Draw a picture

  • Each of the seven strategies listed above is given 5 “teaching” problems. Whether you use these as whole class problem solving experiences, partner problem solving tasks, or individual work, my hope is that you will spend time talking about each strategy and model with the given problems so students can see how YOU use the strategy in different contexts.

  • At the end of the resource are 14 problems that are “unlabeled” and are perfect for independent practice where students select an appropriate strategy to use (and many different strategies may work!) to solve the problem and organize their work. This makes students really think and draw upon what they have learned without being coached.

  • Because I want you to have a ton of flexibility, I have included the cards in 3 different sizes…1/4 page task cards, 1/2 page task cards, and full page problems.


I did this so you can choose to use at stations—or you can use the full page to project as you talk about the problems and explicitly teach the strategies. I tend to use a combination of digital access, task cards, and the full page version—depending on what I am trying to accomplish.

Although the cards are made in color (each strategy is a different one), I tried to keep the color ink to a minimum—and you can always print them in black and white on colored card stock if you do not have color printing options. was hard to determine how many pages to include as the problems appear in 3 sizes. There are 49 different problems--7 each of 7 strategies. Hope this helps!

Don't want the print version and only want digital access?

GOOGLE EDITION Problem Solving Task Cards


Want to see some other word problem resources? Here is just a sampling of the many resources in my store!

Multi-Step Word Problems for Grades 3/4

Word Problem Bundled Set for Grades 4/5

Word Problem Bundled Set for Grades 3/4

Back to School Word Problems

Seasonal Word Problem bundle (individual sets also available)

"Amazing Facts" Task Card Bundle (individual sets also available)

CGI Word Problem Bundle (individual sets also available)


All rights reserved by ©The Teacher Studio. Purchase of this problem set entitles the purchaser the right to reproduce the pages in limited quantities for single classroom use only. Duplication for an entire school, an entire school system, or commercial purposes is strictly forbidden without written permission from the author at Additional licenses are available at a reduced price.

Total Pages
20 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
Report this resource to TPT
Reported resources will be reviewed by our team. Report this resource to let us know if this resource violates TPT’s content guidelines.


to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They analyze givens, constraints, relationships, and goals. They make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary. Older students might, depending on the context of the problem, transform algebraic expressions or change the viewing window on their graphing calculator to get the information they need. Mathematically proficient students can explain correspondences between equations, verbal descriptions, tables, and graphs or draw diagrams of important features and relationships, graph data, and search for regularity or trends. Younger students might rely on using concrete objects or pictures to help conceptualize and solve a problem. Mathematically proficient students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, "Does this make sense?" They can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.
Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Mathematically proficient students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize-to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents-and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.
Model with mathematics. Mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. In early grades, this might be as simple as writing an addition equation to describe a situation. In middle grades, a student might apply proportional reasoning to plan a school event or analyze a problem in the community. By high school, a student might use geometry to solve a design problem or use a function to describe how one quantity of interest depends on another. Mathematically proficient students who can apply what they know are comfortable making assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions. They routinely interpret their mathematical results in the context of the situation and reflect on whether the results make sense, possibly improving the model if it has not served its purpose.
Use appropriate tools strategically. Mathematically proficient students consider the available tools when solving a mathematical problem. These tools might include pencil and paper, concrete models, a ruler, a protractor, a calculator, a spreadsheet, a computer algebra system, a statistical package, or dynamic geometry software. Proficient students are sufficiently familiar with tools appropriate for their grade or course to make sound decisions about when each of these tools might be helpful, recognizing both the insight to be gained and their limitations. For example, mathematically proficient high school students analyze graphs of functions and solutions generated using a graphing calculator. They detect possible errors by strategically using estimation and other mathematical knowledge. When making mathematical models, they know that technology can enable them to visualize the results of varying assumptions, explore consequences, and compare predictions with data. Mathematically proficient students at various grade levels are able to identify relevant external mathematical resources, such as digital content located on a website, and use them to pose or solve problems. They are able to use technological tools to explore and deepen their understanding of concepts.
Attend to precision. Mathematically proficient students try to communicate precisely to others. They try to use clear definitions in discussion with others and in their own reasoning. They state the meaning of the symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately. They are careful about specifying units of measure, and labeling axes to clarify the correspondence with quantities in a problem. They calculate accurately and efficiently, express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context. In the elementary grades, students give carefully formulated explanations to each other. By the time they reach high school they have learned to examine claims and make explicit use of definitions.


Questions & Answers


TPT empowers educators to teach at their best.

More About Us

Keep in Touch!

Sign Up