Word problems can be challenging for students, either for the reading involved or for the difficulty of connecting equations to text. But it is imperative for fourth graders to be able to solve word problems, since not only will there be plenty of them as they continue math studies, there will also be plenty of them when they get into the "real world" as adults. Perimeter, which is the measurement of the outline of a mulit-sided plane shape, is a good place for fourth graders to begin solving word problems.
A one-step problem means that there is only one calculation to be determined in the word problem. One-step problems enable students to learn to connect text with math problems. Some sample one-step perimeter word problems for fourth grade are:
Mrs. Smith would like to put a fence around her garden. Her garden is 7 feet long on two sides and 9 feet long on the others. How much fencing does she need? The answer is 32 feet of fencing.
- Tom's garden is shaped like an octagon. He wants to put a fence around it. Each side is 2 feet long. How much fencing does he need? The answer is 16 feet of fencing.
A two-step problem requires fourth graders to make two calculations to answer the question. An example of a two-step perimeter word problem is:
- Rosa wants to make matching cages for her two rabbits. She already has the wooden parts of each cage built, but she just wants to buy enough wire mesh to fit around each cage. Each cage measures 4-by-5 feet. How much wire mesh will she need to surround the two matching cages? The answer is 36 feet of wire mesh, which is 18 feet per cage.
Multi-step word problems require students to complete more than three calculations to find the answer to a problem. These can be very difficult for fourth graders, but they are increasingly common on state assessments. Here is an example of a multi-step perimeter word problem:
- Bill wants to buy some wood trim to go around the perimeter of his living room. Two of the walls are 9 feet long and two are 12 feet long. But Bill does not need trim for the doorway, which is 3 feet wide. Bill also does not need trim for the bay window, which is 5 feet wide. How much wood trim should Bill buy for his living room? The answer is 34 feet of wood trim.
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