Ask your class: “I have 5 pens in one hand and 5 pens in my other hand. How many rulers do I have altogether?”
You’ll probably get the answer: “10!”
This is due to the fact that the word problems children usually encounter in Maths only ever include relevant information, which is hardly like real life. This can often tempt pupils not to bother reading carefully and just picking out a few numbers and having a bit of a guess at what they need to do to get the answer.
The focus of this lesson is therefore encouraging children to read problems very carefully to decide what information is important and what information is irrelevant to what they are trying to find out. Each problem features a varying level of extraneous information the children must discard before they can find the answer. There is actually one problem which is unsolvable with the information provided! It is well worth making the point to the children that some of the problems they will be looking at might or might not be unsolvable, as this will again encourage to take their time looking to see if their problem is unsolvable!
This works really well as a one-off lesson or perhaps as a ‘lesson in the bank’ for cover teachers.
TIP: As an extension task, have children try and write their own word problems with extraneous facts in.