Emily is currently reading “Sideways Stories from Wayside School.” It was one of my favorite books as a kid, so I got really excited when we saw it in the library last week. She is really enjoying reading it. Today she read a chapter that included a couple math problems, so she started asking me for some math problems. I was fixing lunch at the time, so I quickly gave her some addition and subtraction problems to solve.
Once we had all gotten sat down for lunch, she asked for a division problem. I gave her one. She solved it pretty quickly and asked for another. So, I gave her the problem 10 / 2. She thought on this for a bit and then said, “it’s easier for me to solve problems if they are in a story.” Interesting. Most of my students froze at the thought of working a word problem. So, I thought for a moment and told her this story.
While going for a walk, Emily and Hannah came up to an apple tree with 10 apples. They both decide to take the apples home so their moms can make apple pie. How many apples can each girl get? After they deliver the apples, they walked to their friend Karissa’s house. The three girls decide to go see all their grandparents. All three girls have four grandparents. How many people did they go see? While they are at Karissa’s grandparents house in Oklahoma, they play hide and seek in the backyards of all the houses in the neighborhood. Karissa is hiding in a tree. There are 4 trees in each yard. Emily and Hannah have already searched 4 yards, and have 6 more yards to search. How many more trees do they need to search? They decide to split up to search the rest of the trees. How many will each girl check? Once they find Karissa, they discover that she can’t get down from the tree. So, they each go find two people to help. How many people are at the tree now? Once Karissa is down, they decide to walk through the 10 yards back to Karissa’s grandparents’ house. If it takes them 10 steps to get through each yard, how many steps will each one take? How many steps will they take altogether?
She thought and thought and figured out how to answer each question correctly.
What? You mean everyone doesn’t sit around the lunch table making up math problems?