Elementary, Dear Arithmophobe - writercize #21 (A to Z 5)

If I know one thing about writers and linguists, it's this: 95% of you are terrified of math.  (Ok, that's not a true statistic, and the number may be inflated, but ... it's something I hear all too frequently.)

I seem to be one of the lucky few who really loved both as a child, and still do as an adult.  Numbers do not terrify me; I actually get overly excited with number puzzles and sudoku.  Though admittedly they can send my brain running circles around itself occasionally, like a dog chasing it's tail, and I do not like to play real-life budgetary games with them.  I would much prefer an infinite supply of monetary funds rather than have to crunch dollar signs, but I digress.

As terrifying as arithmetic may sound to some of you, as a writer I am positive you can set out a clear word problem for an elementary school math textbook.  And that is exactly your challenge today!

writing exercise:  Pick a simple math sentence (i.e. 5 + 6 = 11).  Translate it into a word problem that would appeal to elementary school-aged children ages 8-10, where they are asked to provide the solution.

(Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.)

writercizer sample response:

8 / 2 = 4

It was time for the square dancing lesson in Ms. Bigg's 4th grade gym class.  The first group of eight students was selected to learn and demonstrate how to do-si-do.  Ms. Biggs told the eight students to divide into pairs by choosing a dance partner.  Each pair must consist of two students.  How many pairs did those eight students make?


  1. i used to hate math when i was younger. Now i find myself dealing with it all day-that's what happens when you change from being an english teacher to an accounting clerk. :p

  2. I prefer boat in the water problems.

  3. Are you kidding me, word problems are the worst! Straight math I can do, writing I can do, but ask me to combine the two and I get completely stuck.

  4. See me running around pulling my hair out?! I hate word problems! Math was my worst subject! But for you I'll try! Something so simple though -like for baby math :0

    Three mice scampered through the attic. The attic had one mousetrap. How many mice made it out of the attic?

  5. Nutschell- haha. It's good to use both sides of the brain, though. ;) English teacher to accounting clerk - that's quite the career change!

    Sherri - I'm not quite sure I follow - please elaborate!

    Angela - too funny. Sorry to give you such a tough one today! :S

    Brianna - You see? Not so bad, right? Baby math totally works, and I very much appreciate you trying despite the initial hair-pulling. It all came out well in the end. ;)


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