Open Ended Word Problems - Set 2: Complex, Multi-Step Challenges (Grade 3-5)

Rated 4.96 out of 5, based on 205 reviews
205 Ratings
Beyond Traditional Math
Grade Levels
3rd - 5th
Resource Type
Formats Included
  • PDF
22 pages
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Beyond Traditional Math


My first set of open ended problems became an overnight best seller. I was asked by many buyers to create more, and they are finally here. I think these are just amazingly fun to create, and the students love to solve them. These problems will help prepare students for performance task assessments that are coming down the road with standardized testing.

The preview contains a free sample of one of the problems, Sleepover Shenanigans. It took me 35 minutes to solve that problem!

If you've been paying attention to the assessments that are following the Common Core State Standards, then you know that we need to raise rigor in our classrooms when it comes to problem solving.

Each of these seven problems is about a full page (or more) of reading to help students practice reading for understanding in math problems. The problems are open ended, meaning that students can come to more than one answer. The problems are deep, multi-step and require perseverance. You will notice that the Standards for Mathematical Practice are embedded within these problems.

These challenges are appropriate for end of the year 3rd grade (or gifted 3rd graders anytime), 4th grade and possibly for struggling 5th graders. They could be used as an assessment, a partner activity, for small group work, as work for students who have finished assignments early or for gifted and talented small groups. Each problem most likely will take more than one class period to complete.

The problems and their curricular area of focus:

1. Making Money: conversion of time and money, calculating money/adding decimal numbers
2. Find Your Seat: measurement and area
3. Which Pet to Get?: calculating money/adding decimal numbers, conversion of money
4. Sleepover Shenanigans: elapsed time, calculating money/adding decimal numbers
5. Playground Padding: measurement conversion, area, calculating money/adding decimal numbers
6. Family Reunion Room Assignments: a number sense and logic puzzle
7. Chess Club Wins: number sense and graphing

A rubric for scoring each of the problems is at the end of the set.

All of the problems require reading for understanding as well as writing to explain their thinking. (For example Playground Padding asks the students to write a letter with their final decision.) They are challenging and fun!

Total Pages
22 pages
Answer Key
Rubric only
Teaching Duration
2 months
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