Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Giant Story Problems: Reading Comprehension through Math Problem-Solving

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Giant Story Problems: Reading Comprehension through Math Problem-Solving

Grades 1 – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time One 30-minute & one 60-minute session
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • participate in a shared problem-solving activity.

  • collaborate in small groups to develop a problem-solving strategy.

  • use drawings, words, and equations to model solutions to story problems.

  • effectively and clearly explain their problem-solving strategies to other students.

  • write about and reflect on their problem-solving strategies.

back to top


Session One

  1. Post chart paper on the wall and gather students together near it. Inform them that they will work together to solve a math story, and that later they’ll work in groups to solve their own.

  2. Start with a completely blank chart paper so that students can see the entire process.

  3. On the top left corner glue one story problem. Ask for a volunteer to read the problem aloud, or read it to the group. Ask for students to identify the most important information in the story. To do this, ask the following questions:

    • What is this story problem about?

    • How many [subjects/objects] are there to begin with?

    • What is happening to these [subjects/objects]?
  4. As students identify the information, highlight or underline the information that will be needed to solve the problem.

  5. When important words and numbers have been highlighted, work through the story problem item by item to create a drawing that models the story. Have students volunteer to do the drawings on the chart paper. All pertinent information should be illustrated. For example, in a story problem about three people who have four cookies each, the drawing would show three people, each with four cookies. Any details will be up to the students doing the drawing.

  6. When the drawing is finished, review with students the language of the story problem and compare it to the drawing, checking for accuracy: "Does this picture show what it says in the story?" Ask for an equation or number sentence that will show what the drawing says and which will solve the problem. If a student suggests an incorrect equation, write it on the board (not on the chart paper) and ask students to tell why it will or will not work. When a student states a correct equation, compare it with the drawing, then have him or her write it under the drawing with a marker after other students agree that the equation will work.

  7. Ask students to find the actual question in the story problem that needs to be answered: "What does this story want to know?" Read it aloud. Ask for a complete sentence that answers the question. When a sentence has been agreed upon that includes specific information (e.g., the subject's name, the numbers involved, the items' names, etc.), have a student write the sentence under the equation, using conventional capitalization and punctuation, and writing all numbers as words (i.e., instead of writing "20" a student would write "twenty") to facilitate correct spelling of number words.

  8. Review all parts of the chart, and leave it posted for Session Two. Samples of student work can be found at Giant Story Problems.

back to top


Session Two

  1. Gather students together to review the Giant Story Problem chart from Session One. Have students review each part of the problem-solving process. Ask them to review the step-by-step process and list the directions on the board:

    • glue problem on paper

    • read story problem

    • underline important words

    • draw

    • write equation

    • write sentence
  2. Have students get into groups. Each group will need one sheet of white construction paper (12x18), crayons, writing materials, and one story problem. (Every group should have a different problem.) If desired, assign each group a leader whose job it would be to make sure everyone in the group is participating.

  3. While students work to solve their story problems, circulate among the groups to ask questions and make sure everyone is participating in the process. If students are having difficulty, try to ask leading questions rather than give them specific help with a strategy. If it appears that students are using an inappropriate strategy, help them refer back to the language of the story problem. As they work, let them know that they will be sharing their work with the class.

  4. When all groups are finished, have students share their posters with the whole class, explaining their drawing by referring to their story problem, and telling why their mathematical solution will work to solve the problem.

  5. To conclude the activity, have students respond on paper or in Math Journals to each of the following questions:

    • How did drawing a picture help you solve the story problem?

    • What was the most interesting thing about this lesson?
  6. Display all the Giant Story Problems on the wall.

back to top



  1. Have students meet in groups to write their own story problems, then have the groups exchange problems to solve.

  2. Have students practice spelling number words at FunBrain.

  3. Prepare additional "giant" story problems to keep in a basket for students to work on at a math center or during choice time.

  4. Photocopy "regular-sized" story problems from workbooks, cut them up individually, and put them in a basket for students to choose from. These can be used by individual students using the same procedure as "giant" story problems, but on regular-sized paper.

back to top



  • Teacher observation of whole group participation.

  • Teacher observation of small group participation.

  • Student explanations of their strategies.

  • Quality of student group work.

  • Quality of individual student follow-up work, including clarity of ideas and details in written work.

back to top