# How to Solve Word Problems with Pictures

## A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

“Today, we are going to solve math word problems.” When students hear this from their math teacher, their faces drop, sweat starts to form on their foreheads and they refuse to make eye contact. As a math teacher, I understand. I understand the anxiety and want to make the learning process with word problems more enjoyable. This is where reading, writing and, math collide and the real world of math begins. Let’s talk about how to solve word problems with pictures.

When students struggle with word problems in school, they also have difficulty tackling them for homework. Most students want the “one-size-fits-all” formula for word problems but unfortunately, that does not exist. However, drawing a picture will help students visualize the problem and will start advancing their learning stage from the concrete to the abstract. Let’s take a look at how to solve a word problem using pictures:

## Steps for Solving Word Problems using Pictures

1. Read the entire problem: Get all the facts – Underline key word
2. Answer the question: What am I looking for?
3. Draw a picture or diagram: Visualize as a real world situation
4. Solve the problem: Set up the equation and solve

## Word Problem Examples – Example A

Cody has 6 pencils on his desk, Jonah has 4 more than Cody and Vinny has three less pencils than Jonah. How many pencils are there in all?

• What am I looking for? How many pencils do Cody, Jonah and Vinny have altogether?  √
• Draw a picture or diagram √ • Solve the problem

6 + 10 + 7 = 23 pencils

## Example B

There are 3 fish tanks labeled   X, Y, and Z. Y weighs 6 times as much as X and twice as much as Z. If Z is 36 lbs. heavier than X, find the total weight of X, Y and Z.

• What am I looking for?  What is thetotal weight of fish tanks X, Y and Z?  √
• Draw a picture or diagram √ • Solve the problem

18 + 108 + 54 = 180 pounds