What is problem solving?
Problem solving is the process of applying knowledge and skills to find a solution to a problem. This can involve problems that you are familiar with or unknown problems (where you have to apply your knowledge and skills to an unknown situation).
Why is this important?
Problem solving is an important skill in Mathematics which sometimes takes a back seat in schools. But if students learn how to apply their skills to solving problems, they can increase their confidence and success.
What's involved?
Following are some of the basic problem solving techniques. If you click on the pictures, you will be taken to a series of problems. The problems are graded from Stage 3 (years 5 and 6) all the way up to Stage 5.3 (years 9 and 10).
Video for Stage 3

Video for Stage 4

Video for Stage 5

Answers to Stage 3

Answers to Stage 4

Answers to Stage 5

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Click on the picture above for videos and answers
Make a List
Organised List
This strategy is about systematic counting. We must be methodical as we write down the different options.
Years 5 and 6
Help Me Dress

Years 7 and 8
Star Signs

Years 9 and 10
The Roundabout



Mr and Mrs Smith

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Guess and Check
Guess and Check
This method involves guessing the answer, checking to see whether it solves the problem, then adjusting our guess.
Years 5 and 6
The Three Coins

Years 7 and 8
Divide me up!

Years 9 and 10
How old are we?

Pair me up

Farmyard

Monkey and the Coconuts

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Find a Pattern
Find a Pattern
Look for a pattern and use it to work out the answer.
A table can be useful for organising the different elements.
Years 5 and 6 
Years 7 and 8
The Last Digit

Years 9 and 10
House of Cards




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Draw a Diagram
Draw a Diagram
A picture is worth a thousand words!
Drawing a quick sketch of what is going on can help us organise our thinking.
Years 5 and 6
Track Coach's Dilemma

Years 7 and 8
Sam, the Milkman

Years 9 and 10
Triangular Duel

Slippery Sloth

Car Wash

Two Trains

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Act it Out
Act it Out
Sometimes it helps to act out a problem.
This can involve using people as characters in the problem or manipulating pieces in a game.
Years 5 and 6
Handshake Problem 
Years 7 and 8
Cannibals and Missionaries

Years 9 and 10 
Stranded

Tower of Hanoi


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Simpler Case
Simpler Case
Trying a simpler case can help us reveal the mathematics that is required to solve a complicated problem.
Years 5 and 6

Years 7 and 8
One and a half chickens?

Years 9 and 10 



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Work Backwards
Work Backwards
Sometimes we are given the end of a problem and asked to find the beginning.
We have to work backwards to find the answer.
Years 5 and 6
Tuckshop

Years 7 and 8
Burger Eating Contest

Years 9 and 10
The Water Buckets

Measurement Time

Jellybeans


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Logical Reasoning
Logical Reasoning
This strategy involves working through a problem systematically and logically.
Years 5 and 6
Fancy Dress Party

Years 7 and 8
Sudoku

Years 9 and 10
I'm divisible. Are you?

Let's go to the movies!

Who owns the zebra?

Red, White, Blue

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