For kids who are struggling with word problems, here's an funny-sounding acronym that can help. (Link to the PDF is below.)
VUPLES - check
V - Circle each "variable" (including known quantities) and give each a unique letter name. Underline, or highlight the question (unknown quantity), and give that a letter name, too.
U - If all the units are not the same, use conversion ratios so they are all the same.
P - Draw a picture that makes sense.
L - Label the picture with the variable names, any quantities you know, and their units.
E - Using the picture, write equations with the variables (letter names) that make sense when compared to the picture.
S - Replace all variables in the equations with known quantities. Solve for unknown quantities. Add the new information to the picture. Does it make sense?
CHECK - Always check word problems by re-doing them later with fresh eyes.
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