The Problem Solving and Communication Activity Series Understand the Problem

Understand the Problem

The fundamental activity at the heart of Understand the Problem is I Notice, I Wonder™, an open-ended prompt that gets students talking about math scenarios in a non-threatening, careful way. Here are some activities that help kids look closer at the problem scenario to help them notice, wonder, and understand even more.

Activities to Learn this Strategy

Facilitation Questions

  • What do you notice?
  • What are you wondering?
  • What quantities do you see? What could you count? What could you measure?
  • What relationships do you see? What calculations could you do?

Recommended Library Problems

The Strategy Examples documents linked from these problems contain examples of what students could do with the activities. You need a Class Membership or higher to access Library problems.


Ants on a Bun
Pizza Night
Trolls and Dogs
What Do I Have in My Bag?
Yummy Gummy Bears

Math Fundamentals

Pooling Tips
Heidi's Hometown
Subway Tokens
Zelma's ZIP Code
Wooden Legs


The Oracle's Oration
At Least a Mile
Chirp, Chirp!
Tiling Triangles
Ostrich Llama Count


Mind Reading
Eduardo's Equation Challenge
From Here to There
Operation Warm Up
Filling Glasses
Voter Turnout


Visiting Friends
What's the Angle?
Well, Well, Well
Points, Lines, & Planes
Divided Rectangle
A Minor Problem

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