How to Create Your Own Word Problems for Math Practice

Math, Story Problems
Blog header for How To Create Your Own Word Problems for Math Practice with a photo of a word problem projected on the board.

Word problems are a great way for students to practice any math skill! Story problems not only build problem solving skills, but also provide opportunities for students to use critical thinking, try out different math strategies, and practice their math communication.

Here’s the thing – you know your students better than anyone. You know the math skills they need more practice with, you know their interests, and you know their ability. Using all of those things can help guide you in creating your own story problems for your math students.

Creating problems for your students may seem like a daunting task, but there are some key things to consider to make it easier. 

Math Skills

Photo of word problem worksheet with words - Pick Your Math Skill.

Word problems are a great way to practice most math skills since it provides context to the math. Before creating problems, think of what specific skills you are wanting your students to practice. If it is start unknown, make sure your story sets up in a way that students have to solve for the first number. If you are working on subtraction, you can create problems that have to do with someone giving something away. 


Photo of kid playing baseball with words - Use Students' Interests

When I create my own word problems, I always try to tie in my students to the story. I use their names and also their interests. This helps build engagement and makes them more interested in solving the problems.  Students love to see whose name is in the problems. 

If Johnny likes baseball, I try to create a problem about him playing baseball.  If Sara loves to read books, I create a problem about her checking out books from the library. This small step of using your students’ name and interests can be a game changer when it comes to students being excited to solve story problems.

Real-Life Situations

Photo of canned food drive with words - Incorporate Real-Life Situations.

Story problems are an amazing way for students to practice solving real-world problems! Most standards actually tie that language into some of their story problem standards.  Try to tie the word problem into something you are working on in class or something the kids might have participated in during outside school time.  

For example, say your school is having a canned food drive. You could create a word problem where students know how many cans have been collected so far and then a goal number of cans to try to reach. In this problem, you could ask students to figure out how many more cans are needed to reach the goal.


Photo of word problem worksheet with words - Differentiate.

Another thing I take into consideration when creating word problems is differentiation. Most if not all math classrooms have students at a variety of levels with a variety of needs. When creating problems for my class I take that it into account.

By creating my own, I’m able to change up the numbers as needed to make the problems work for my students. I will often use the same problem for all groups, but tweak the numbers. This saves me time and also differentiates for my students so they are able to get the practice they need.


Photo of student solving problem with the words - Make Modifications.

When you create your own word problems you are also able to make modifications to the problems. For example, if you have some students who are struggling with reading you could make sure to include words they are able to decode. You could also include a picture with the problem to help them with the context. 

Word Problem FREEBIES

If you are looking for some word problems that are already differentiated and created for you, check out these FREEBIES below!

Word Problems Ready-to-Go

If you’d like further practice for your students that is differentiated and can be used for homework, independent practice, or assessments, click below…

More Word Problem Info

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