Wednesday Word Problem

Wednesday Word Problem is a constant in my classroom. This is not my original idea…it came from the first school I worked at but I have stuck to it because the benefits of it have really helped my kids with problem solving. It always leads to great discussion and implementation of math strategies. I ask my kids to think…novel concept, right?

I do read the problem to them and then we read through it together.

As we read through it again, they have to pin-point the important information and what they need to solve the problem. I tell them they have to be “detectives” because there is probably information in the problem that they don’t need. They circle the information they think is important and I ask them to explain why that information is important. Usually, there are number words they have to find and they have to determine if they are going to use addition or subtraction. They figure that part out by underlining the question.

What is the problem asking you to do?


I let them chose to either sit on the carpet with a clip-board or they can stay at their seat.


I try to emphasize that with math you should just do a “quick sketch” and not a detailed picture 🙂 Sometimes, they try to draw these elaborate pictures and then forget what they were even doing in the first place!


After we do all of the circling and underlining…I have them figure the problem out and if they get it right then they get a smartie.

One smartie.

And I’m the mean teacher that if they don’t get it right then they have to try again on the next problem. There are some weeks that they might not get the smartie on either problem. Guess what? They do their darnedest to get that smartie the next week. Usually, they do.

You might think I”m mean and that’s ok. First off, it’s one smartie. Secondly, they are learning a much bigger lesson by not getting that smartie if they get it wrong. They are learning that failure leads to success and they are learning to preserve. I’m going off on another tangent…




I always have a few kids come up and solve the problem in different ways because they all have their own strategies. It is a great way to model and talk about different strategies. The kids also have to vocalize how they got the answer. I love sitting back and letting my kids be the teachers so they can learn from each other.

Another fun thing I do is plug in their names so they get to be in the word problem for the week. They get excited about that and their two smarties 🙂


This is a great way to get math talk and problem solving in your classroom at least once a week. My kids are always expecting it and they WANT to do word problems. As long as they are asking for it, then I am going to continue with it!

Feel free to make your own or grab the entire year of Wednesday Word Problems!



  1. This is AWESOME! How long do you tackle the word problem of the day? Are you and the kiddos currently working on word problems? I think circling and underlining is a great way for them to horne in on the needed information to solve the problem. Thanks for sharing!!! 😉