2nd Grade Math Word Problems

Math student
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Word problems can be challenging for students, especially second-graders, who may still be learning to read. But, you can use basic strategies that will work with nearly any student, even those who are just starting to learn written-language skills. To help second-grade students learn to solve word problems, teach them to use the following steps:

  • Survey the math problem: Read the word problem to get an idea of its general nature. Talk with your students about the problem and discuss which parts are most important.
  • Read the math problem: Read the question again. This time, focus on the specific details of the problem. Which parts of the problem relate to each other?
  • Ask questions about the operations involved: Reflect again. Determine the specific math operations the problem is asking you to perform, and list them on paper in the order they are to be performed.
  • Question yourself about the steps taken: Review each step you took. Determine if your answer seems reasonable. If possible, check your answer against the book's answers to determine if you are on the right track.
  • Wrap it up: Scan through the text of the word problems you will be solving to identify any words you do not recognize. List them and determine their meanings before solving the problems. Write brief definitions of the terms for your reference during problem-solving.

Solving the Problems

After reviewing these strategies, use the following free word-problem printables to let the students practice what they've learned. There are only three worksheets because you don't want to overwhelm your second-graders when they are just learning to do word problems.

Start slowly, review the steps if needed, and give your young learners a chance to absorb the information and learn word problem-solving techniques at a relaxed pace. The printables contain terms with which young students will be familiar, such as "triangle," "square," "staircase," "dimes," "nickels," and the days of the week.

Worksheet 1: Simple Math Word Problems for Second Graders

Worksheet # 1
Worksheet # 1. D. Russell

Click here to access and print the PDF.

This printable includes eight math word problems that will seem quite wordy to second-graders but are actually quite simple. The problems on this worksheet include word problems phrased as questions, such as: "On Wednesday you saw 12 robins on one tree and 7 on another tree. How many robins did you see altogether?" and "Your 8 friends all have 2 wheeled bicycles, how many wheels is that altogether?" 

If students seem perplexed, read the problems aloud together with them. Explain that once you strip out the words, these are actually simple addition and multiplication problems, where the answer to the first would be: 12 robins + 7 robins=19 robins; while the answer to the second would be: 8 friends x 2 wheels (for each bike) = 16 wheels.

Worksheet 2: More Simple Second-Grade Math Word Problems

Worksheet # 2
Worksheet # 2. D. Russell

Click here to access and print the PDF.

On this printable, students will work six questions starting with two easy problems followed by four more of increasing difficulty. Some of the questions include: "How many sides are on four triangles?" and "A man was carrying balloons but the wind blew 12 away. He has 17 balloons left. How many did he start with?"

If students need help, explain that the answer to the first would be: 4 triangles x 3 sides (for each triangle) = 12 sides; while the answer to the second would be: 17 balloons + 12 balloons (that blew away) = 29 balloons.

Worksheet 3: Word Problems Involving Money and Other Concepts

Worksheet # 3
Worksheet # 3. D. Russell

Click here to access and print the PDF.

This final printable in the set contains slightly more difficult problems, such as this one involving money: "You have 3 quarters and your pop cost you 54 cents. How much money do you have left?"

To answer this one, have students survey the problem, then read it together as a class. Ask questions such as: "What could help us solve this problem?" If students are unsure, grab three quarters and explain that they are equal to 75 cents. The problem then ​becomes a simple subtraction problem, so wrap it up by setting up the operation numerically on the board as follows: 75 cents – 54 cents = 21 cents.