Clearly, the signs were designed to prompt the meaning of the operations and were not meant to be as abstract as they have become.

Students should also learn the many words that refer to the operations along with the usual “key” words. See , , , and for word lists. Once learned, xxx An effective method for teaching, reinforcing, and reviewing arithmetic word problems is to cut out 150 to 200 such problems from old tests and textbooks and put them in storage bags, about 25 to a bag. Then have students in groups of 2-4 use the “What is happening? How is it happening?” flowchart to sort the problems according to “Whose job?” Motley’s, Tractor’s, SirCrab’s, or Collider’s. (Some jobs might require more than one math character.)

The lesson can end there or be extended to solving the problems manually or with calculators, depending on the computational skills of the students. From grade 3 up, in particular, students quickly get good at determining which character gets what kind of job and thus better at solving arithmetic word problems. Since the lesson combines reading and math, it may be presented during language arts time as well as math time as a way to extend the time spent on math without lessening the time spent on language arts.