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Schools Home > Teachers > KS2 Lesson Plans > Maths > Problem solving

Problem solving - lesson plan

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Digger and the gangTo understand how to approach a word problem correctly.

National Curriculum

Ma2, 4a.


You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to access the PDF files. BBC Webwise has a complete guide to downloading and installing Adobe Acrobat reader.

Teaching activities


  1. Discuss with the children the differences between word problems and conventional sums. Which is easier?
  2. Explain that with word problems you have to work out which operation to use.
  3. Brainstorm the vocabulary that could be used in word problems for all four operations - 1) add, more than, greater than, plus; 2) subtract, take away, less than, minus; 3) multiply, times, lots of, sets of; 4) divide, share, split.
  4. Write a word problem on the board.
  5. As a class, generate some guidelines to help approach word problems and model the guidelines on the example word problem - 1) Read the question twice; 2) Highlight the words or phrases that let you know which operation to use; 3) Highlight any numbers or figures; 4) Write a sum from this information and work it out; 5) Re-read the question. Does your sum seem right for this problem? 6) Check that the answer to the sum is correct.


  1. Demonstrate the Bitesize problem solving activity using the whiteboard.
  2. Show the children how to remove the note and proceed with the activity.
  3. Once the children understand how to use the activity, ask them to take it in turns to work through the rest of the activity in small groups or in pairs on the class computers.
  4. Ask the remaining children to work within their ability groups picking differentiated word problems out of a sand or rice tray. Ask them to solve the word problem, using the guidelines generated at the start of the lesson as a checklist.


  1. Label four areas of the classroom with + - x ÷.
  2. Call out a word meaning one of the operations.
  3. Ask the children to move towards that area. When they are there ask for examples of other words that mean the same.


Ask the children to work through the Bitesize problem solving quiz or complete the Problem solving worksheet (PDF 520KB). They could also try Digger and the Gang 7-9 maths adventure stories.


  1. Give the children several more word problems and a copy of the guidelines generated in class.
  2. Ask the children to work through the problems using the guidelines. If they find an additional method that helps them, ask them to add it to the guidelines and share it with the class at the next session.

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