Math Problem Solving Strategies

18 Math Problem Solving Strategies to help guide your students as they work on all those word problems.


Math Problem Solving Strategies Cheat Sheet

Math Problem Solving Strategies

Let me channel a valley girl for a second, ’cause “Like problem solving is hard man!”

It’s, like, KRYPTONITE for a math student.  Shoot, some of those problems are KRYPTONITE for we super-human math teachers (Big Smile Here)!

I like to say, “In the Ice Ages” or “Since the Dawn of Man” we’ve had the same set of problem solving strategies to use when encountering those Woolly Mammoth sized word problems.

No doubt, your kiddos are struggling with the same old issues when they work on word problems.  You end up having to remind them to read carefully, show their work, and check their work.

I’ve put together a handy Math Problem Solving Strategies or Tools Cheat Sheet that will help you plan, prompt your kiddos, and remind them of their options when they are solving word problems.

The 18 Math Problem Solving Strategies or Tools Cheat Sheet gives your students a little security blanket as they work through those pesky word problems.

You can call these strategies instead of tools, but “strategy” is so over-used that the kids almost turn off when they hear, “Do your strategies.”

When you ask them, “What tool did you use on that problem?” they have to stop and think for a moment. After a few times, they learn to pull out their cheat sheet to find a tool that’s gonna move ’em forward.

Be sure to download the 18 Math Problem Solving Tools Cheat Sheet then COPY, POST, SHARE, TEACH, and PREACH it.

The 18 math problem solving strategies are…

1 – Make it personal

2 – Jump in the question

3 – Read & Re-read

4 – Magnify key words

5 – Ask: 1-Step or Multi-steps

6 – Ask: Does my answer make sense?

7 – When stuck: Try all + – x ÷

8 – Check your work

9 – Draw

10 – Guess and check

11 – Try each answer choice

12 – Make a table

13 – Work backwards

14 – Make an organized list

15 – Look for a pattern

16 – Act it out

17 – Talk it out

18 – Use objects to make a model

Be sure to download the 18 Math Problem Solving Strategies Cheat Sheet.   Please let me know if you need CCSS or TEKS resources.  You’ll also want to include your grade level – is it 3, 4, or 5?  By providing these details, you’ll get only resources that are relevant to you and your kiddos.

If you have any questions please give me a holler over on Facebook or through email at


Veronica Lopez,

C. I. and Assessment Specialist and

Woolly Mammoth Tamer (Big Smile)!

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