Focus on the CPA or CRA approach to math problem-solving strategy.
Use the concrete (interact with bills, provide students with play money after doing an example together).
Have them represent their thinking using words, pictures, and equations (abstract). We usually do this by responding in a math journal, often a blank page.
We do not allow students enough experiences to work with the CONCRETE materials, emphasis on understanding/acting out.
You can easily substitute your students' names into the problems, which is usually a strong attention getter!