How are your problem solving skills? This lesson will help to make you a better problem solver if you work carefully. All of the problems in this lesson can be solved using multiplication or division.
Cameron’s class went to visit the Junior Museum to learn more about the history of the United States. Along the way, Ms. Smith, his teacher, asked a lot of questions. Cameron was able to answer all of them. See if you can get the same answers as Cameron.

If you get stuck trying to figure out an answer, try using beans, pennies, small stones, or pictures to help you.

While getting on the school bus, the bus driver told the students to sit two people to a seat. There were 14 seats filled with students. How many students were on the bus?
You could:

Although you could count each student, or even count 14 groups by two, a faster way to find the number of students would be to multiply.
Written as a multiplication number sentence it looks like this:
2 x 14 =

When the class arrived at the museum, Mrs. Smith told the class to get in groups of four. If there were 28 students, how many groups were there?
You could sort the students into groups of four and count, or you could divide.
28 ÷ 4 =

As the class walked into the museum, the first thing they saw was a flag from 1864. Ms. Smith told the class that each star on the United States flag represents a state. Could they tell her how many states there were in 1864?

If the flag had six rows of stars with six stars in each row, how many states were there in 1864?
x
=

A few minutes later the class saw 5 canoes. Three people could ride in each canoe. Ms. Smith wanted to know how many Native Americans could cross the Mississippi River at one time if each canoe were full?

That would mean five groups of three; or
X
=

Have you noticed a pattern here? If you have a large group of something and you want to sort it among fewer groups, you divide. If you have several equal groups and you want to know how many you have all together, you multiply.

In the Civil War room, the class saw 24 real gold pieces. If each soldier had 3 gold pieces, how many soldiers were there?

Take groups of three gold pieces from the stack until there are none left. How many groups did you get?
24 ÷ 3 =

Now that you’re an old pro at solving problems you can make up your own. Look around you for good story problem material. Make up five of your own story problems and share them with a friend or your teacher.