How to Use Strip Diagrams to Solve Multi-step Word Problems

Strip diagrams, also known as bar models, are a great way for students to visualize multi-step word problems.

How to Use Strip Diagrams to Solve Multi-step Word Problems

A Step-by-step Guide to Using Strip Diagrams to Solve Multi-step Word Problems

Let’s go through a multi-step word problem suitable:

Problem: Sam has 20 stickers. He gives 5 stickers to his friend Joe. Then, he buys a pack of stickers that contains 8 more. How many stickers does Sam have now?

Step 1: Understand the Problem

Read the problem carefully and identify the different events and operations taking place.

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Step 2: Draw the Initial Strip Diagram

Start by drawing a box (or strip) representing the total number of stickers Sam initially has. Label this box as 20 stickers.

|--------- 20 stickers ---------|

Step 3: Draw the Changes

Next, represent the changes (both increase and decrease) to the number of stickers Sam has.

When Sam gives 5 stickers to Joe, draw a smaller box to represent this subtraction:

|------ 15 stickers ------| - 5 stickers |

Then, when Sam buys more stickers, extend the box to represent this addition:

|------ 15 stickers ------| + | 8 stickers |

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Step 4: Calculate the Result

Add or subtract as indicated by the strip diagram. In this case, 15 stickers + 8 stickers equals 23 stickers.

So, Sam has 23 stickers now.

Using strip diagrams can help students visualize the problem and understand what operations to perform and in what order. It’s a very helpful strategy for solving multi-step word problems.

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