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The Problem Solving Handbook: Multiplication and Division Review by Jennifer King

Jessica Kaminski
Math With Purpose

Math can be such a challenge; multiplication and division can feel impossible some days for some kids. The Problem Solving Handbook aims to provide the support, teaching, and resources needed to succeed in math studies. With this book, learn how to solve multiplication and division word problems using bar models. We received both the softcover book as well as access to the online videos that aid in instruction.

The videos assist in learning nine different types of problems, also providing practice and challenge problems. Each video is between 3-6 minutes in length. These are based around a Concrete-Pictorial Abstract theory which helps with understanding as it utilizes physical objects and action to represent operations. Watch and draw images to show those numbers, groups, and totals. As they draw these models, they connect the information and the relationships these variables have to one another. This matters so much as we move into more advanced studies.  

As you work through the pages of this book, you learn to use a three-step approach: build it, show it, solve it. The first problem has them show counters or other objects as representatives of the problem. In the second step, students use the bar model to solve problems with greater numbers. The third step is a challenge word problem. By watching the videos and working through the pages of this book, students are encouraged to use these strategies. This is an excellent way for students to learn what problem-solving looks like and how to explain their math work using both reasoning and critical thinking skills, 

My children appreciate materials that help them work step by step through problems to recognize the similarities and differences, relating them to a model. From equal groups to real models/arrays and comparisons, each model is worked through, using plenty of practice problems and video instruction. Our kids learn to compare and match models to other appropriate equations as they work. As they master these things, they can identify problems and work through them successfully regardless of grade level. 

This workbook is full of colorful pages with an abundance of visual teachings and page after page of spacious areas to work the problems given. From drawing bar models to writing equations, this program helps students to find the correct answers and represent these problems with equations and sentences.

This is a wonderful program for a mom and her students to learn and grow together to understand mathematical problem-solving better. Although materials like this are valuable, it is so much more than just finding the correct answer; it is more advantageous for students to interpret, think critically, understand, and apply what they are learning beyond the worksheet and the text.

As we worked through this, it was clear there was a difference in how my children were thinking and working. The Problem Solving Handbook is beneficial in so many ways to develop a problem-solving mindset that will carry on into many other aspects of their life. 

-Product review by Jennifer King, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2021