Struggling with math story problems? CUBES to the Rescue! - Caffeine Queen Teacher

Struggling with math story problems? CUBES to the Rescue!

If your class is struggling with solving math word problems, you’ve come to the right place. Using the CUBES or CUBED problem solving strategy for math story problems will help your students focus on the steps they need to solve word problems.

CUBES posters for math problem solving

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We love math story problems!

Everyone does love word problems – right? (That’s sarcasm! I know – I feel your pain!) Some students and teachers (yep, that’s you and me!) don’t love them?  Hmmm.


Math story problems key word posters

Math story problems key words posters

I introduce this math strategy early in the school year. With younger students, it’s important to use controlled math story problems as students are learning the procedure. By controlled math word problems, I mean problems that are basic and will probably result in success for students.
Well – if you are one of those teachers, or if you have some of those students in class, you might find the CUBES or CUBED Word Problem Solving Strategy helpful.

As we move deeper into the school year, we encounter more difficult word problem – multi-step word problems. Depending on your math series, you may encounter the “Throw it all at you” style word problems. These are the word problems where they – literally – throw it all at you. Multi-steps, lots of wordy problems, you know what I’m talking about here!

Well, the “Throw it all at you” problems bring us to a screeching halt.  My students become totally bogged down by the multi-step problems that require organized thinking that students haven’t developed yet.

Student reference bookmark featuring CUBES story problem strategy

Tape these reference bookmarks to student folders!

CUBES Math story problem strategy

Students need a strategy and organized method of approaching these math story problems to avoid the overwhelming feeling of fear and dread.
My students just wanted to pull the numbers out of the word problem and add them together – I KNOW that YOU KNOW what I’m talking about!  They weren’t sure if they should add, subtract, or multiply (division hadn’t been introduced yet . . .), so they picked one at random.

Below is a bulletin board using posters from the CUBES Strategy Posters for Solving Math Story Problems pack. Bulletin boards and teacher created anchor charts make great reference tools for students.

The small task cards shown are from the bundled set of CUBES/CUBED posters and Beginner Level Multiplication and Division Word Problems set.

math strategy posters for bulletin boards

CUBES or CUBED math word problem reference bulletin board

What I love most about these posters is the choice. You decide between the more traditional CUBES method, which stands for:

1.  Circle the numbers
2.  Underline the question
3.  Box the key words
4.  Eliminate what you don’t need
5.  Solve and Label  (I added the “Label” because we all require it – don’t we??)

Or you can choose the newer CUBED method, which stands for:

1.  Circle the numbers
2.  Underline the question
3.  Box the key words
4.  Eliminate what you don’t need
5.  Draw a picture (which is a push in the Common Core State Standards)

CUBES – or CUBED – Poster Resources

Whichever method you prefer, you’re covered because there are poster sets for both versions.

Math story problem solving strategy posters featuring CUBES

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All of the posters in the picture above are included along with a Mini Posters for each student to have their own copy. The mini posters can be laminated and handed out to students and even attached to their math folders or binders to use as a reference tool at home, as well.

CUBES math word problems mini reference cards for students

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A basic, smaller sized poster set is included as well, for smaller class displays.

Small sized CUBES math word problem solving strategy poster

Is your class beginning to work on multiplication and division facts? Below is a bundled set of CUBES (and CUBED) posters with beginner level task cards featuring basic multiplication and division facts in math story problems. They’re basic cards (both with and without extra information to eliminate), which makes differentiation easy!


CUBES math word problem strategy poster set

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These posters feature a clean, updated/modern look:

CUBES and CUBED math word problem strategy posters

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More articles about the CUBES strategy

Want to learn even more about the CUBES math word problem solving strategy? Click here to visit my feature article about “How to Teach Math Word Problems.”

As always, feel free to email me with any questions you have about these resources or about the CUBES or CUBED math story problems solving strategy! Pin these for later!

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Click the image for Free Teaching Organization Pages Kit!
Multi-digit Multiplication & Division on Graph Paper Bundle of worksheets for students
CUBES poster set for solving math story problems