Oh, the difference phrasing can make in a word problem!

Maddie rocks at some word problems. Things like, “If you had two balloons and I give you three more, now how many do you have?” Or, “If you have four toys, and I take one away, how many do you have left?”

But last week, Maddie was given a picture of three big balloons, and five small balloons, and asked, “How many more small balloons are there than big balloons?”

All I got was a blank stare. Or maybe a puzzled expression. She just seemed to not get “how many more than” questions.

Then I remembered the motivater. I tried another “how many more than” puzzle.

“Maddie, if I give you three scoops of ice cream, and I give Aaron five scoops of ice cream, is that fair?”

“No!” No hesitation. She’s sure of her answer.

“Why not? How many more scoops does Aaron have?”

Just the slightest pause to calculate, then, “Two!”

Ice cream, you broke through another barrier!

Amazing! I’m testing out this word problem with my daughter.. she loves math. She can do the math with just numbers but turning it into a word problem makes it more complicated… I never thought of using ice cream as a motivator though ðŸ™‚