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Solving Addition and Subtraction Word Problems with Bar Models Review by Jenny Underwood

Jessica Kaminski
Math With Purpose

I reviewed Solving Addition and Subtraction Word Problems with Bar Models from Jessica Kaminski this Spring.  It is a spiral-bound handbook that also has a video component online.  To access the videos, simply go to the specified website and enter the password.  There is a short video for each segment of the handbook.  The handbook itself is 110 pages long and in color.  

When I first started reading through the handbook, I was a bit confused for two reasons.  First, we do not use Singapore Math, and second, I had never used a bar model to solve math problems.  However, as soon as I started watching the videos with the handbook, it began to make sense, and I soon saw this was an excellent way to teach math.

The specific book is geared to students in grades 1-4; however, I can see that it would also tremendously benefit older struggling students by allowing them to see the problem in their heads.  Each section has a beginner, more advanced, and practice word problems.  Students will draw a bar model to represent the problem, write an equation and record their answer in a sentence.

There are at least three videos for each problem type.  They are short and relatively easy to understand.  Students are shown how to build it, show it and solve it.  An answer key is in the back of the book.

Some of the forms of addition taught in this handbook are "Add To: Result Unknown," "Add To: Start Unknown," "Take From: Result Unknown," and "Take From: Change Unknown."

This is an excellent resource to use with any math program; however, Jessica specifically designed it for Singapore Math. I do want to note that this is a supplement, not a complete curriculum.

Once you watch the videos and understand the concepts used to explain the word problems, your child will be able to break apart the problems, solve them effectively, and know why and how they did it!  

-Product review by Jenny Underwood, The Old Schoolhouse ® Magazine, LLC, June 2021