“YOU can learn many things from kids…How much patience you have, for instance!!!” I learn SO much from my kids every day.. Practically every minute! ESPECIALLY during story problem time in math class! Your patience as a mother and teacher is for sure tested when you ask your kids to solve a math problem. Woo, wee!!! It seems like it takes them forever to get it and you just want to tell them the answer! I know the feeling, especially for preschoolers! I have two preschoolers of my own and sometimes they take what seems like days to solve a simple problem. If only doing story problems could be a bit more … well… FUN! Well, you are in luck! They can be SO MUCH FUN! Solving story problems with noodles and more is a great, sensory activity for young children. With a few rigatoni noodles, straws, and my kids favorite, Play-Doh, your kids and you too can have a lot of fun solving story problems!
How Can They Solve Problems with Noodles?
Noodles can be so much fun, especially with counting! If you have the mezzi rigatoni noodles, you can do so many things with them. Make sure you buy the wider kind so they can go around your little ones fingers during counting. They are hard to find at stores sometimes, but you can buy them on Amazon by clicking here.
We used these to solve problems like this with our fingers:
Shelby has 3 cookies. Molly has 3 cookies. How many do they have altogether?
BONUS: They love when I actually cook them for a meal and we do story problems at dinner. Subtraction problems are best, like Harry has 5 noodles. He eats 2. How many does he have now? They suck them right off their fingers… This makes them eat better (ANOTHER BONUS). I’ve got two very picky eaters, so I’m up for anything that helps.
How Can They Solve Story Problems with the Straws and Noodles?
Ok, so this is one of my favorite ways to solve a story problem for preschoolers and young ones who are still building their number sense. To read more about number sense in toddlers, you may like my other post, Building Number Sense in Toddlers.
If the problem is a part, part, whole unknown problem like this:
Gabby has 5 popsicles. Derek has 4 popsicles. How many do they have together?
or a Compare Difference Unknown like this:
Gabby has 5 popsicles. Derek has 4 popsicles. How many more does Gabby have than Derek?
We will use two straws so they can represent both amounts and compare them or add them together, depending on the type of problem.
How Can They Solve Problems with Noodles & Play-Doh Only?
My kids love to stamp the play-doh with their noodles. They have a distinctive design on the ends of the noodles and are perfect for stamping like this:
Next, I encourage them to line up their noodle stamps in rows so it is easier to count. This will help them when they begin to learn multiplication in a few years. You could even do this to teach arrays for multiplication. Using a rectangular pyrex container would be easier for doing arrays or solving a multiplication story problem with the noodles and play-doh.
You can also use them to place down in the play-doh like this:
Finally, I store the play-doh in these pyrex containers, because I don’t have to worry about it drying out quickly. I also store my noodles and straws in the pyrex containers. We store them on a shelf in our classroom so we can get them in and out easily.
This is a fun, hands-on activity for learning story problems and counting with little ones, even as young as 2 years old. It’s so crazy how much even a 2 or 3 year old can do with counting if you just take some time to practice with them. Kids love playing with play-doh, so why not let them learn along with it! Let them discover a world of numbers with noodles, play-doh, and straws!
How did this turn out with your kiddos? Comment below and share some other great ideas for solving story problems and counting. I’d love to hear from you! God Bless!
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