There are a number of common strategies that children of primary age can use to help them solve problems.
We discuss below several that will be of value for problems on this web-site and in books on problem solving.
As you can see with the chickens and pigs, discussed above, regular picture drawing develops into drawing a diagram.
Venn diagrams and tree diagrams are particular types of diagrams that we use so often they have been given names in their own right.
We have found that this kind of poster provides good revision for children. Through these links, children can see that mathematics is not only connected by skills but also by processes.
We now look at each of the following strategies and discuss them in some depth. If they can also check that the guess fits the conditions of the problem, then they have mastered guess and check.
This is because the participants are so engrossed in the mechanics of what they are doing that they don’t see through to the underlying mathematics.
However, because these children are concentrating on what they are doing, they may in fact get more out of it and remember it longer than the others, so there are pros and cons here. Generally speaking, any object that can be used in some way to represent the situation the children are trying to solve, is equipment.
If you are not careful, they may try to use it all the time.
As problems get more difficult, other strategies become more important and more effective.