Primary 1 maths word problems introduce young learners to fundamental concepts that set the stage for more complex mathematics. These maths word problems often revolve around whole numbers, helping children build a solid understanding of addition and subtraction. In this article, we will explore the most common primary maths word problems children encounter in Primary 1, also known as 1st grade, and provide strategies and solutions that parents and teachers can use to assist their children in mastering them.

**1. Altogether, In All**

One of the first types of primary 1 maths word problems students encounter involves finding the total of two or more groups using addition. These problems often use the keywords “altogether” or “in all.”

__Example__

Mrs Tan baked 3 cakes on Monday.

She baked 4 cakes on Tuesday.

How many cakes did she bake altogether?

**Solution**: 3 + 4 = 7Mrs. Tan baked 7 cakes altogether.

**Tip**: Sometimes, instead of “altogether,” the question may use the phrase “in all.” Regardless of the phrasing, students should use addition to solve these problems.

**Strategy**

When teaching children how to solve 1st grade maths word problems like these, emphasise the importance of looking for keywords that indicate addition, such as “altogether” or “in all.” Encourage them to visualise the problem by drawing pictures or using physical objects to represent the numbers.

**2. The Rest**

Another common type of primary 1 maths word problem asks students to find “the rest” of a group by subtracting from a total. These problems typically involve the part-part-whole concept.

**Example**

Jane has 8 ribbons in total.

3 of the ribbons are white, and the rest are red.

How many red ribbons does Jane have?

**Solution**: 8 - 3 = 5Jane has 5 red ribbons.

**Tip**: In problems like this, think of the total number as the “whole” and the different groups (e.g., white and red ribbons) as parts. To find the missing part, students subtract one part from the total.

**Strategy**

To help students grasp this concept, use visual aids such as part-part-whole diagrams. These diagrams illustrate how two parts come together to make a whole, making it easier for young learners to understand why subtraction is used.

**3. Left**

Questions that ask how many items are “left” after some have been taken away introduce subtraction. These problems are straightforward, but students must understand that “gave” or “left” typically signals subtraction.

**Example**

Max had 9 toys.

He gave 4 toys to Leo.

How many toys did Max have left?

**Solution**: 9 - 4 = 5Max had 5 toys left.

**Tip**: Words like “gave” or “left” usually mean that subtraction is necessary. Encourage students to underline these keywords in the problem to remind them to subtract.

**Strategy**

In this type of maths word problem, using real-life examples or objects is helpful. For instance, give children 9 toy blocks and ask them to remove 4 to see how many are left. This tangible approach helps solidify their understanding of subtraction.

**4. More Than/Less Than (Comparison)**

In comparing word problems, students must figure out how much more or less one quantity is compared to another. These problems help develop critical thinking skills and often involve subtraction.

**Example**

Jenny has 8 books.

Tony has 2 books.

How many more books does Jenny have than Tony?

**Solution**: 8 - 2 = 6Jenny has 6 more books than Tony.

**Tip**: For comparison problems, subtraction is used. Sometimes, the question might be phrased differently, such as, “How many fewer books does Tony have than Jenny?”

**Strategy**

Teach students to identify the larger and smaller numbers in comparison problems. Have them practise comparing quantities by organising objects side by side to visualise the difference.

## 5. More (Type 1)

This type of problem introduces students to situations where one person or group has more than another. These problems require addition and reinforce the importance of correctly interpreting the problem.

**Example**

John has 6 marbles.

Terry has 3 more marbles than John.

How many marbles does Terry have?

**Solution**: 6 + 3 = 9Terry has 9 marbles.

**Tip**: Always look at who has more. In this case, Terry has more, so we add the difference to find the total.

**Strategy**

Students often confuse when to add or subtract in hard math word problems like these. One effective strategy is to have students repeat the problem in their own words, emphasising the relationship between the numbers to determine the operation required.

**6. More (Type 2)**

In this variation, students must figure out how many items the other person has when they are told that the first person has more. This is a common trap, as students may be tempted to add when they should subtract.

**Example**

John has 6 marbles.

He has 3 more marbles than Terry.

How many marbles does Terry have?

**Solution**: 6 - 3 = 3Terry has 3 marbles.

**Tip**: Always focus on who has more. In this case, John has more, so to find Terry’s total, we subtract.

**Strategy**

Using scenarios where students can act out the problem is a great way to help them differentiate between adding and subtracting in these problems. Have one child represent John and another represent Terry, using physical objects to demonstrate who has more and how to find the correct total.

**7. Less/Fewer (Type 1)**

Primary maths word problems involving fewer or less typically require subtraction. This problem type is similar to the “more” problems but focuses on who has fewer items.

**Example**

Sally has 8 cupcakes.

Her sister has 5 fewer cupcakes than her.

How many cupcakes does her sister have?

**Solution**: 8 - 5 = 3 Her sister has 3 cupcakes.

**Tip**: Always look at who has fewer. In this case, Sally’s sister has fewer, so we subtract to find the answer.

**Strategy**

Incorporate comparison activities into daily routines to reinforce this concept. Have children compare the number of toys or snacks they have with their siblings or friends to practise subtraction.

**8. Less/Fewer (Type 2)**

In this variation, the child is told that one person has fewer items than the other, and they need to find out how many the person with more has. This problem requires students to add rather than subtract.

**Example**

Sally has 8 cupcakes.

She has 5 fewer cupcakes than her sister.

How many cupcakes does her sister have?

**Solution**: 8 + 5 = 13Her sister has 13 cupcakes.

**Tip**: Focus on who has fewer. Since Sally has fewer, we add to find out how many her sister has.

**Strategy**

This problem type is another instance where visualisation is key. Use drawings or objects to show the difference between the two groups of cupcakes and why addition is necessary to solve the problem.

Solving primary 1 maths word problems effectively requires an understanding of keywords and the operations they signify, whether addition or subtraction. By mastering these basic concepts, students build a strong foundation for tackling more complex maths word problems with answers and solutions in later grades.

Encourage young learners to approach each problem systematically, identify the key information, and choose the correct operation to solve the problem confidently.

As your child transitions into Primary 1, ensuring they have a strong foundation in Mathematics is crucial for their academic journey. __AGrader’s Primary Math Programme__ is designed specifically to support students from Primary 1 to 6, following the Ministry of Education’s latest syllabus. Our expert educators work closely with young learners to ensure they develop a solid understanding of core mathematical concepts.

At AGrader, we go beyond traditional teaching methods by incorporating thinking skills and heuristics that challenge our students to apply their knowledge creatively. By developing these problem-solving techniques early on, Primary 1 students can build confidence in their ability to excel in mathematics. Additionally, the AGrader Primary Math Programme features our exclusive__ EverLoop Improvement System__, which has helped over 30,000 students eliminate “academic forgetfulness.” This unique system ensures continuous improvement, allowing students to retain key mathematical concepts and skills effectively.

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