How Do I Know? {Math Word Problem Vocabulary}

Greetings friends! Today I’m hanging out in my home office and working on NEW songs to share with you. It’s mid-May so school is just starting to wind down and summer is around the corner. I always love summer. It means more time for all the fun projects I simply couldn’t get to during the year (I can just hear my husband moaning – our ideas of what constitutes “relaxing” and “fun” sometimes differ when it comes to my business. I LOVE IT!).

Today I have written a song for a particular client who is learning to decipher word problems. Word problems can be particularly tricky for any student because the four basic math functions (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing) can be represented by SO MANY different words.  This core vocabulary is key to recognizing what action should be performed.

This song simply identifies each function and its synonyms. I can’t wait to use this next week and will let you know how it goes. In addition to being completely purposeful, this tune is also my third entry to a songwriting challenge that I am participating in over at Listen & Learn Music. You can check out my first two entries here: Songwriting Challenge #1, Songwriting Challenge #2.

Tips & Tricks

  • Make sure you have the words in front of you. You can make your own, use the lyric sheet available in our store, or there are some fun options on pinterest to check out.
  • Repetition is key. There are so many lyrics to this song, that you and your special learning will need to repeat it over and over again so the words can stick.
  • Break it down. If you are working on just addition word problems, use only the addition verse.  When you move on to subtraction, then use the subtraction verse and so on.
  • Quiz time! After your learner has become familiar with the song, ask them to recall synonyms for each function. For example, “Great singing! Can you tell me some words that mean to add?”

Listen

Lyrics

Chorus:
How do I know to add, subtract, divide, or multiply?
How do I know to add, subtract, divide, or multiply?
The words in the problem will tell me what to do.
The words in the problem will give me a clue.
This is how I know to add, subtract, divide, and multiply.

Verse 1:
How do I know when I need, when I need to subtract?
These are the words that we’ll use and that is a fact.
Less than, difference, fewer, and left.
Remaining, minutes, takeaway are the best!
This is how I know, how I know that I need to subtract.

Verse 2:
How do I know when I need, when I need to add?
These are the words, the words that need to be had.
Plus, all together, in all, and sum.
Perimeter, total, combined – what fun!
This is how I know, how I know that I need to add.

Verse 3:
How do I know when I need, when I need to divide?
These are the words I should be able to identify.
Quotient, equal groups, cut up, and parts.
Goes into, separate, split – that’s a start.
This is how I know, how I know that I need to divide.

Verse 4:
How do I know when I need, when I need to multiply?
These are the words that I must recognize:
Product, groups of, each, and times.
Area, twice – help me read between the lines.
This is how I know, how I know that I need to multiply.

Yes, this is a longer song that usual. I initially considered 4 separate songs, but in the end felt that the particular student for whom it was written would be able to digest the information given opportunities to learn and sing with me.

Want your own copy of the song? Head over to our store.

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Sing on,

Mary

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