Problem solving picture books can boost your children’s understanding of how to solve math problems and enhance general problem solving skills.
Both types of problem solving involve deep thinking to recognize an issue and think through possible solutions to get to a resolution. We tend to call general problem solving “logical thinking”. If you’re looking for information about that type of problem solving, click here.
In this post, we will focus on mathematical problem solving. In math, you might need to literally solve a problem (or an equation) and need to figure out how to do that. Or, you might be faced with a mathematical question that isn’t so cut and dry as an equation. Sometimes, these are word problems, and other times they are intellectual challenges similar to the following:
“A farmer has pigs and chickens. In total, he owns 20 animals. If there are 54 legs, how many of each animal live on the farm?” (P.S. The answer is 7 pigs and 13 chickens.)
Luckily, there are some general strategies that tend to work well to get to any math solution before a child has the handy-dandy tool of algebra to help. They include:
- Examining the question to find key ideas.
- Choosing an appropriate strategy. (See below.)
- Doing the math.
- Rechecking to see if it worked.
There are a variety of wonderful strategies that can help depending on the problem at hand and the preferred learning style of a student. They include:
- Making a list.
- Drawing a picture.
- Acting it out.
- Making a model.
- Making a table.
- Identifying a pattern.
- Writing a number sequence.
- Solving a simpler, related problem.
- Working backwards.
- Guessing and checking.
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Lucky for us, there are plenty of problem solving picture books that demonstrate the processes of problem solving in a variety of ways through engaging stories and real-life examples. They can help a student who struggles with thinking beyond basic math equations to learn a new way of thinking on a deeper level!
Problem Solving Picture Books
- Alice in Pastaland by Alexandra Wright
- The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman
- Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
- Counting on Frank by Rod Clement
- Equal Shmequal by Virginia Kroll
- Jim and the Beanstalk by Raymond Briggs
- The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood
- Math Curse by Jon Scieszka
- Once Upon a Dime by Nancy Kelly Allen
- The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
- The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey
- Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
- Sold! by Nathan Zimelman
- Spaghetti and Meatballs For All! by Marilyn Burns
- The Sundae Scoop by Stuart Murphy
The Sir Cumference Series for Problem Solving
The entire Sir Cumference series is excellent for demonstrating how to think outside of the normal equation to reach important mathematical answers!
- Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the First Round Table by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Fraction Faire by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference Gets Decima’s Point by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Dessert by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Roundabout Battle by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone by Cindy Neuschwander
- Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map by Cindy Neuschwander
The Warlord’s Series for Problem Solving
I love the Warlord’s series for the same reason as the Sir Cumference series. In the same way, they are adventurous and engaging, too!
- The Warlord’s Alarm by Virginia Pilegard
- The Warlord’s Beads by Virginia Pilegard
- The Warlord’s Fish by Virginia Pilegard
- The Warlord’s Kites by Virginia Pilegard
- The Warlord’s Messengers by Virginia Pilegard
- The Warlord’s Puppeteers by Virginia Pilegard
- The Warlord’s Puzzle by Virginia Pilegard
Any of these books, along with teaching the specific problem solving strategies listed earlier in the article, can be incredibly helpful to show children how to think mathematically and logically to solve intricate problems. If you have a favorite book to help with the concept of problem solving, feel free to add it to the comment section!
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