WedWoPro #3 – In the snow !

Every Wednesday, I give a chance to my child to explore a word problem a way that makes sense to her. And every Wednesday, I share the word problem, and my experience with you, so you can do the same ! Click here if you want to start from the beginning ! Hope you join us !

Here comes WedWoPro #3. I think one of the goals I have in mind with this WedWoPro journey is to help my child build up confidence in solving word problems. Showing her how to identify the data she needs, how to not feel overwhelmed or stopped by a single word she may not know, a peaceful journey little step by little step, week after week. I sure hope our journey can help you too.


WedWoPro #3 – In the snow!

Little Green loved snow. The last time it snowed, he ran outside and joined some of his friends.

They decided to work in teams to build several snowmen. Each team had the same number of friends.

  • There were  6 friends, and they split into 2 teams.
  • There were 12 friends and they split into 3 teams.
  • There were 6 girls and 9 boys, and they split into 5 teams.

How many friends were in each team ?

Team Green, Little Green’s team, used little rocks to make buttons, eyes, etc.

  • Each friend puts 2 rocks on the snowman.
  • Each friend puts 5 rocks on the snowman.
  • Each friend puts 4 brown rocks and 3 white rocks on the snowman.

How many little rocks did Team Green put on the snowman all together ?

Team Green also used ribbons to make the snowman look fancier.

  • Team Green used 3 yards of blue ribbon and 2 yards of red ribbon.
  • Team Green had 5 yards of blue ribbon. They used some and had 2 yards left.  
  • Team Green had 2 yards of red ribbon. They used some and had 1/2 of a yard left.

How many yards of ribbon did Team Green use ?

Later at night, Little Green had beautiful dreams: he was riding on a unicorn in a snowy forest.

Here is the .pdf if you want to print it out (WedWoPro3).

  • Level green: 3 friends in each team, Team Green used 6 rocks, and 5 yards of ribbon.
  • Level orange: 4 friends in each team, Team Green used 20 rocks, and 3 yards of ribbon.
  • Level red: 3 friends in each team, Team Green used 21 rocks, and 1 and 1/2 yard of ribbon.

As mentioned last week, I am not writing the equations, as I do not want to make them expected. Symbols will come in time, our journeys at home are focused on making sense of mathematical relationships.

Invite your child to solve the problem in a meaningful way to him/her (Carpenter et al, 2014). He/she can use manipulatives or drawing a picture to represent the problem, and explain out loud his/her reasoning. Depending on your child’s skills, he/she can also write an equation, explaining how each part relates to the problem.

Sharing my experience:

Last week, I wrote the post after my child explored the Level Green. The following day, however, she surprised me by trying the Level Orange on her own. And the day after, the Level Red. That’s when I noticed how much the progression from Level Green to Level Red could, on a long run, help her build up confidence in solving these kind of problems. That’s what may do from now on:

  1. One day, we explore Level Green –  and when I say we, it is her doing the work, and me listening to here reasoning, with a “tell me about what you are doing” here and there –
    • Because Rosie is not concerned about the set of numbers, she can be focused on the problem as such, and understanding the questions.
    • We discuss words she may not understand, and if it matters or not. For instance, knowing the definition of “fancier” does not impact how to solve the problem. It is important for kids to realize they do not have  to give up at the first word they may not be familiar with !
    • We also discuss what is relevant to the problem, and what is not. The fact that Little Green had beautiful dreams at the end of the story has no connection with the problem. Same with the size of the rocks: little or big, it does not matter !
    • And of course, I let her solve the problem as she feels like it, through modeling or drawing. She may add an equation when an addition or subtraction is involved. Mostly, we stay focused on explaining how she solved the problem. And it is not that easy. For instance this week, she figured out quite quickly that Team Green put 6 rocks on the snowman, but it took her a while to clearly express that an important data, i.e. there were 3 friends in Team Green, came from the first step of the problem.
  2. Another day, we explore Level Orange. Because she is not overwhelmed with the text anymore, she can get focused on a more difficult set of numbers, using the strategy she explored with level Green.
  3. Finally, we explore, if she wants, Level Red, building up from the 2 previous levels.

Depending on the level of your child, and his/her confidence in solving multi-step problems, you may want to try to do the same. At least for now, as we begin this new journey. Or just have him/her pick the level he/she feels comfortable with, the goal is sure not to overwhelmed your child with too much math. It should be a joyful moment! As I said, our journey will move little step by little step. It is not a race !

Until next time !


  • Carpenter, T., Fennema, E., Franke, M., Levi, L. and Empson S. (2014). Children’s Mathematics, Second Edition: Cognitively Guided Instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. ISBN-13:978-0325052878.

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