Student Lesson Plan: Writing Story Problems


This lesson gives students practice with story problems by teaching them how to write their own and solve the problems of their classmates.

Class: 3rd grade

Duration: 45 minutes and additional class periods


  • white paper
  • coloring pencils or crayons
  • pencil

Key Vocabulary: story problems, sentences, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division

Objectives: Students will use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to write and solve story problems.

Standards Met: 3.OA.3. Use multiplication and division within 100 to solve word problems in situations involving equal groups, arrays, and measurement quantities, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.1

Lesson Introduction: If your class uses a textbook, choose a story problem from a recent chapter and invite students to come up and solve it. Mention to them that with their imaginations, they could write much better problems, and will do so in today's lesson.

Step-by Step Procedure:

  1. Tell students that the learning target for this lesson is to be able to write interesting and challenging story problems for their classmates to solve.
  2. Model one problem for them, using their input. Begin by asking for two student names to use in the problem. "Desiree" and "Sam" will be our examples.
  3. What are Desiree and Sam doing? Going to the pool? Getting lunch at a restaurant? Going grocery shopping? Have the students set the scene, as you record the information.
  1. Bring the math in when they decide what is going on in the story. If Desiree and Sam are getting lunch in a restaurant, maybe they want four pieces of pizza, and each piece is $3.00. If they are grocery shopping, maybe they want six apples at $1.00 each. Or two boxes of crackers at $3.50 each.
  2. Once the students have discussed their scenarios, model for them how to write this into an equation. In the above example, 4 pieces of pizza X $3.00 = "X" or whatever unknown you would like to represent.
  1. Give students time to experiment with these problems. It's very common for them to create an excellent scenario, but then make mistakes in the equation. Continue working on these until they are able to create their own and solve problems their classmates create.

Homework/Assessment: For homework, ask students to write their own story problem. For extra credit, or just for fun, ask students to involve family members and get everyone at home to write a problem. Share as a class the next day - it's fun when the parents get involved.

Evaluation: The evaluation for this lesson can and should be ongoing. Keep these story problems bound in a three-ring binder in a learning center. Continue adding to it as students write more and more complex problems. Make copies of the story problems every so often, and collect these documents in a student portfolio. With some guidance, they are sure to show the students' growth over time.

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Your Citation
Jones, Alexis. "Student Lesson Plan: Writing Story Problems." ThoughtCo, Sep. 1, 2016, Jones, Alexis. (2016, September 1). Student Lesson Plan: Writing Story Problems. Retrieved from Jones, Alexis. "Student Lesson Plan: Writing Story Problems." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 24, 2018).