# Ten-minute lesson: Problem-solving tip for word problems – Start at the End

## Word Problems are Hard for Many Students. Here’s one way to make these easier

I don’t care how old you are, word problems can confuse you. This is particularly true when you have a lot of extra information. That’s what the world is like, though. When you need to figure out if you have enough money to pay for lunch and buy that game you wanted, there isn’t a nice equation set up for you.

Let’s take that example. School lunches cost \$2.75 and the game is on sale for \$5.00. You have \$8.25. Do you have enough money for both or should you skip lunch? My answer is don’t skip lunch because that’s unhealthy but let’s try a math answer.

You have \$9.00. Lunch cost \$2.75 and the game you want to buy is on sale for \$5.00. Such a deal!

## How much money would you have left if you paid for lunch and the game?

The mistake people often make is to add \$2.75 + \$5.00 and say the answer is \$7.75.   That’s not the answer to the question that was asked.

Now that you’ve watched the video, answer this question:

Marybeth’s mom let her buy 3 puppies (yes, she IS a great mom!). Her mom said that Marybeth and her 2 brothers had to share the cost of the puppies’ food. It cost her \$16 for dog food on Monday and \$11 for dog food on Friday. How much do each of the children have to pay their mother?

Did you say \$9?

If not, here is how you find the answer:

#### Marybeth’s mom let her buy 3 puppies (yes, she IS a great mom!). Her mom said that Marybeth and her 2 brothers had to share the cost of the puppies’ food. It cost her \$16 for dog food on Monday and \$11 for dog food on Friday. How much do each of the children have to pay their mother?

Remember, you are being asked HOW MUCH DID EACH CHILD PAY?

This is a division problem. So, we know at the end we will need to divide. Divide what? Divide the total amount of money spent on dog food.

That is \$16 + \$11 = \$27

Wait, you’re not done! Divide by the number of children. The number of children is 2 +1 = 3. You didn’t forget to include Marybeth, did you?

So, you divide –  \$27/3  = \$9