[I’m going to devote my Thursday blog posts to the topic of All Things Academic: reading, writing, ‘rithmetic and the other school subjects.]

Last week I said that I see value in having kids (and all learners) memorize a certain amount of factual information.

I also said that I’m not a fan of rote memorization of multiplication “facts.” Kids should also be learning when and how to apply all of the four operations to various situations.

My favorite way to teach arithmetic is by using word problems that kids write themselves. Put them on separate file cards and have kids solve each other’s questions.

When kids write and solve one another’s word problems, they practice reading, writing and math, all at once. They also develop empathy as they consider what subject matter might please their classmates, how hard to make their problems, etc.

I have an extensive collection of Wonderful Word Problems. Here’s a sample:

  • What if Rudy had 6 puppies and each one wanted 2 dog biscuits? How many biscuits would Rudy need for them?
  • What if Sonya is having a party, and she has 24 cookies and 4 plates? How many cookies should she put on each plate?
  • Matt has 10 goldfish and 5 bowls. How many goldfish in each bowl?
  • What if there were 4 pieces of pizza, 2 plates of spaghetti and 10 plates of meatloaf? Tommy ate three pieces of pizza and 1 plate of spaghetti. Then John came over and ate 5 plates of meatloaf and one plate of spaghetti. How much of each food was left?
  • Hannah has 9 cats. Julie has 1 cat. How many cats does Hannah have to give Julie so they each have the same number of cats?
  • Alana had some stickers. Her dad gave her 4 more, and now Alana has 9. How many stickers did she have to start with?
  • What if Sarah really like turtles? She has 5 turtles, but she wishes she had 12. How many more turtles does she need to find?
  • Joe had a bag full of gummy bears. He gave 10 gummy bears to Madison and 8 gummy bears to Bella. Now he has 13 gummy bears left in his bag. How many gummy bears did Joe start out with?
  • What if Jessica is making hot chocolate. She has 18 marshmallows, and she wants to put 3 marshmallows in each cup. How many cups can she fill?
  • Benjamin has 5 bunnies and each bunny needs to eat 3 carrots. How many carrots does Benjamin need to pull out of the ground?
  • What if there were 6 dogs and 4 ran away? And then 2 came back?
  • 20 alligators wanted to put themselves equally into 5 ponds. How many gators should go into each pond?
  • What if Julie sold 3 pink roses, 4 red roses and one white rose? She charges $5.00 for every two roses she sells. How much money would she make?
  • Malcolm is my cat. He likes to rollerblade. When Malcolm goes skating, how many wheels are on his feet altogether?
  • What if Mr. Pinker bought 4 talking dolls and 6 electric cars? Each doll requires 2 batteries and each car requires 5 batteries. How many batteries does Mr. Pinker need for all his toys?
  • What if Sharon buys a dozen donuts to share with 8 people? How can the donuts be shared fairly?
  • What if there were 6 cats and 3 birds? How many legs would that be?
  • There were 300 rooms in the Plaza Hotel. 140 rooms were taken. How many were left? Then 23 people moved out; how many empty rooms now? Then 48rooms got filled. How many are empty now?
  • My dog, Moses, had a party. He invited 5 other dogs. Moses ordered 3 meat pizzas and 24 bone cookies. How much of each food does each dog get?
  • Jarren is making a science project. He is making 9 model spider webs. He wants to put 1 spider and 2 flies on each web. How many pipe cleaner legs does Jarren need to buy for his project?

[I’ve decided to decorate Thursday’s posts with images of man-made objects, which seem to convey the peculiar beauty of the logical human mind. There’s something multiplicative in these window panes.]