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4.03 Story problems


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Sometimes, we need to know how to write a number sentence from a  story problem  .


Example 1

There were 2 rows of trees in a field, with 3 trees in each row.

Write a number sentence for this story problem to find the total number of trees in the field.

Worked Solution
Create a strategy

Since there is an equal number of trees in each row, we can think of each row as a group.

Apply the idea

There were 2 groups of 3 trees, and "groups of" means multiply.

Number sentence =2\times 3

Idea summary

If we need to find the total for multiple equal groups, we need to multiply.

Story problems with multiplication and division

How do we know if we need to multiply or divide, when we have a story problem? Let's see if we can find some clues, in this video.

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Example 2

A teacher wants to divide up her class of 6 students evenly onto 3 tables.


Write a number sentence for this story problem.

Worked Solution
Create a strategy

The word "divide" tells us that we should use division.

Apply the idea

The teacher will have to divide the 6 students into 3 equal groups.

Number sentence = 6\div3


How many students will there be at each table?

Worked Solution
Create a strategy

To find the number of students at each table we need to solve the number sentence from part (a).

Apply the idea

The picture shows 6 squares split into 3 rows:

An array of 6 squares with 3 rows and 2 columns.

There are 2 squares in each row. So: 6\div 3 = 2.

So there will be 2 students at each table.

Idea summary
  • If we have a total to share, we use division to work out how many groups, or how many in each group.

  • If we have a number of equally sized groups, we need to multiply to work out the total.

  • Multiplication and division are opposites but you can use fact families to help you to solve questions.



uses mental and informal written strategies for multiplication and division


generalises properties of odd and even numbers, generates number patterns, and completes simple number sentences by calculating missing values

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