Math Mats: Great for Solving and Creating Word Problems in Guided Math Groups
Story Mats are great tools for solving and creating word problems. Here is a site that has great story mats. The new Math Common Core puts a great deal of emphasis on solving word problems. Actually, it is math practice number 1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. The CCSS says that “Younger students might rely on using concrete objects or pictures to help conceptualize and solve a problem.” I would also add that even upper elementary students could use concrete materials to discuss fractions and percents within the context of the math mat
Math mats can be used in several ways.
1) The teacher can pull a small guided math group and tell stories using the different word problem types (see p.88/89 http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_Math%20Standards.pdf) Remember naming the type is a research based practice!
The teacher should have the students work with concrete manipulatives to solve the word problems.
2) The teacher should have the students take turns telling different types of stories and modeling them with manipulatives.
3) The teacher should place the story mats in math centers with differentiated activities attached.