Students often rely on keywords in word problems without understanding the task. In this article, sample comparison problems are presented to encourage students to focus on understanding context rather than keywords. Postscript items are designed as rich grab-and-go resources that any teacher can quickly incorporate into his or her classroom repertoire with little effort and maximum impact.

Contributor Notes

Alison Sternal,, works for the Math/Science Teacher Initiative at San Diego State University, which addresses the need for highly qualified math and science teachers in the state of California.

Lisa Milligan teaches first grade at Bancroft Elementary School in Spring Valley, California. She is interested in problem solving, engaging her students in critical thinking, and building her students' reasoning skills.

Melissa M. Soto,, is an assistant professor of mathematics education in the School of Teacher Education at San Diego State University. Her research focuses on Cognitively Guided Instruction and children's mathematical thinking, professional development for elementary school teachers, and mobile technology.

Edited by Theodore Chao,, an assistant professor of mathematics education at The Ohio State University in Columbus

Imani Goffney,, who conducts research at the University of Maryland–College Park, where she is an assistant professor in mathematics education and teaches courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Submit your quick game, puzzle, activity, or instructional strategy along with suggestions for how teachers of different grade bands (K–1, 2–3, 4–6) can use this idea. Send submissions of no more than 250 words to this department by accessing See detailed submission guidelines for all departments at

(Corresponding author is Sternal
(Corresponding author is Soto
(Corresponding author is Chao
(Corresponding author is Goffney
Teaching Children Mathematics
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