# 3rd Grade - Break A Problem Into Smaller Parts

 Grade Level: 3rd Skill: Reasoning Topic: Break a Problem into Smaller Parts Goal: Determine when and how to break a problem into simpler parts. Skill Description: Mathematical Reasoning: breaking problem into simpler parts, problem solving The ability to break larger problems into smaller problems. More complex problems are often easier to manage when broken down into little steps.

### Sample Problems

 (1) A runner is training for the marathon. She decides to run one lap around the track on the first day and double the number every day for seven days. How far will she run on Day 6? (the child needs to make a chart to find the number 32) (2) A nursery school has 14 play tables that fit one child on each side. If all 14 tables are put together to make one long table, how many children can sit and play? (The child needs to draw a picture/42) (3) How many outfits can you make from six pieces of clothing: 1 black pants, 1 brown pants, 1 red skirt, 1 white tank top, 1 beige long sleeved shirt, and 1 black short sleeved top. (the child must make a list to figure out the combinations) (4) There are ten elves that help Santa Claus in shifts, but Santa only likes to work with two elves at a time. Name each elf and figure out the combinations that Santa will work with. (5) A woman has to be at work at 8am. It takes her 20 minutes to walk to work, 15 minutes to eat and 35 minutes to get dressed. What time should she get up? (6:50am)

### Learning Tips

 (1) Children need to be able to form mental images of word problems in their minds to complete them successfully. To practice mental imagery, you might give the child a variety of shapes, some of which can be folded to make a box. Students will need to “see” the box in their minds in order to choose the correct shapes. Origami and other paper folding activities are also good to practice visualization. (2) Good problem solvers are methodical and systematic. They use successful techniques to solve problems, such as breaking a problem down into simple steps, making a plan to solve the problem, choosing the right strategies to solve the problem and pulling out key ideas that they need. Look at the problem in different ways before choosing how to solve it and think ahead to predict the outcome of that choice. (3) First, look over the entire problem. When a problem seems complex or has many parts to it, break it down to smaller problems. It is easier to do these kinds of problems in little steps rather than trying to solve it all at once. Ask yourself if you have seen that type of problem before. Think about what strategies you used. Monitor yourself after each step and ask yourself if you’re using the right strategy or rule. As you break a problem up into a series of logical steps rather than trying to solve it all at once, think about the order of the steps. Keep reevaluating to make sure you’re on the right course. Say the steps out loud as you think through the problem. Decide what needs to be done first and then what action should follow. Decide which parts need an algorithm then choose an algorithm to use. A checklist or a mnemonic can be used to keep the child organized and remembering what to do next. (4) Use a set of questions to help the child down the right path. For example, “What am I asked to do? What are the important details? What does this question remind me of? What numbers do I need to pay attention to?” (5) Post these or similar reminders on the wall: Understand the problem, break the problem into steps and plan how to solve it, select a strategy or strategies to use to solve it, carry out the plan and reevaluate the results (does my answer make sense?). Some steps can be done in the child’s head, but encourage him/her to verbalize those steps in the beginning. Sometimes this overall plan needs to be altered because the strategy isn’t working. Encourage the child to be flexible enough to change the plan mid-stream.

### Online Resources

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