Kindergarten - Problem Solving Strategies

Problem Solving
Problem Solving Strategies
Determine the approach, materials, and strategies to be used
Be able to determine the type of math problem at hand. Identify the approach to solving the problem. Decide on materials needed and strategies to be used in order to solve the problem.

Sample Problems


We have twelve cupcakes and two fell on the floor. Will this be an addition problem or a subtraction problem?


I had three quarters and two dimes. I want to know how much money I have. What should I count first?


If it is twelve o’clock right now, what time will it be in two hours? Do I look at the long hand or the short hand?

Learning Tips


Whenever you are working on math problems you must first figure out what type of problem you are doing. Is it an addition, subtraction, money, time, pattern, counting, place value or any other type of math problem?

After you and your student have determined what type of problem you are working on, figure out the type of materials you can use: do you draw pictures or will it be more helpful to use real life objects such as coins. After visualizing the problem (through pictures or concrete objects), determine if they are any tricks, shortcuts or patterns that will be helpful to use.

Ex. When counting coins, it is always helpful to group like coins together. Then you can count bigger coins first and add them to smaller coins. If you are pending money, you can again group coins together and then take away the coins from the total amount.


Time: When telling time it is important for the student to e able to distinguish the minute hand from the hour hand. If the problem asks for the time change in hours, the focus is mainly on the hour hand. The minute hand will remain in place.

Ex. It is twelve o’clock. What time will it be in three hours? The hour hand will move from the twelve to the three but the minute hand will stay on the twelve.

Ex. It is 2:30 p.m. What time will it be in two hours? Again the minute hand will remain on the six but the hour hand will move from the middle of the two and three to the middle of the four an five.

Review the pattern with both the minute hands and hour hands.


For addition problems you and your child can count by starting the count from the larger of the two numbers.

Ex. 6+8= Start by counting form the number eight and adding six more(the six more can be represented by counting sticks, fingers, or any other object). So the count would be… eight, nine ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen. The answer is either equal to or greater than the bigger number being added (In this example the answer is equal or greater than eight).

For subtraction problems you and your child would start by counting form the bigger number and count backwards.

Ex. 7-2= Start by counting form the number seven and then counting two lower (the two can be represented by fingers, or sticks). The count would be seven, six, five. The answer is equal to or less than the largest number in the problem (in this case the answer is equal to or less than seven).


Counting patterns usually repeat some of the last digits.

Ex. Evens end with a 0, 2, 4, 6, or an 8.

10, 12, 14, 16, …28, 32, 34, 36

Odds end with a 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9

21, 23, 25….37, 39, 41, 43, 45, 47

By fives end with a 5 or a 0

5, 10, 15, 20, 25

By tens ends with a zero and the digit in the tens place is the on that changes.

10, 20, 30, 40, ….80, 90


Patterns usually focus on a shape, color, or number. After figuring out what type of pattern it is, see if you can use the pattern to repeat the sequence in front of you.

Ex. 3, 6, 9, 3, 6, 9, 3, _, _ The same three numbers are repeating. See if by completing the sequence and continuing the pattern, the beginning seven numbers appear.


Word Problems: There are usually some key words to focus on when you read a word problem. Look for the word or words that tell you if you will be adding or subtracting. Work with your child to find the words. See who can identify the type of problem. Some key words are- gave, lost, found, later, earlier…

Extra Help Problems


What type of problem is it. Circle the name.

I have seven cookies and ate two. Addition Subtraction


It was twelve o’clock two hours ago. What time is it now? Addition Subtraction


I had six socks and lost one of them. How many do I have now? Addition Subtraction


. I bought five tomatoes and found two in the refrigerator. How many do I have? Addition Subtraction


I had a quarter and bought gum that cost ten cents. How much money is left? Addition Subtraction


I planted ten seeds but two were eaten by birds. How many flowers might grow? Addition Subtraction


I baked five cookies today and five cookies yesterday. How many cookies do I have? Addition Subtraction


My cat had five kittens. I gave away three of my kittens. How many kittens do I have now? Addition Subtraction


I’m adding 4 + 9 = Do I count starting from the 4 or the 9 ?



I’m adding 3+ 8 = Do I count starting from the 8 or the 3 ?



I’m adding 13 + 5 = Do I count starting from the 5 or the 13 ?



I’m subtracting 10 - 4 = Do I count starting from the 10 or the 4?



I’m subtracting 17 - 14 = Do I count starting from the 14 or the 17?



I’m subtracting 22 - 7 = Do I count starting from the 22 or the 7?


I’m subtracting 9 - 2 = Do I count starting from the 2 or the 9?



I’m subtracting 15 - 7 = Do I count starting from the 15 or the 7?



47,49,51,53 odds evens


30,20,10 tens fives


15, 20, 25, 30, 35 tens fives


66,64,62,60,58,56 odds evens


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