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Year 6 Word Problems

Year 6 Word Problems

Are you a teacher looking for Year 6 word problems for your Maths lessons? We've got some hints, tips and examples to help make generating Maths questions less of a challenge!

View our ready-to-teach Year 6 Maths lesson packs

Year 6 word problems can be tricky to generate, and tricky to find online. You need word problems that are challenging enough for the demands of the Year 6 Maths curriculum and interesting enough to engage the attention of students who no longer care how many pencils each child has if Mrs Javid shares her 112 pencils between the 29 pupils in the class.

Hints and Tips: 

  • Relate word problems to real-life situations as much as you can. The more children can identify the purpose of what they’re doing, the more motivated they will be to find an answer. 
    • For example, base a set of word problems off the menu of a chain restaurant the children are likely to be familiar with, such as Bella Italia or Nando's. What percentage of the dishes are suitable for vegans? How many calories are in a meal if you order x, y and z? What is the mean price of a main meal? 
  • Relate Year 6 word problems to topics you’re studying, books you know your class love, current events, TV shows…anything!
    • For example, if you have a class who love Britain’s Got Talent, ask them to work out how many minutes of airtime the last series had, or average number of viewers over the past 10 years. 
  • Make word problems silly! Questions don’t always have to be serious; if you know your class has a penchant for the puerile, create word problems that will make them laugh.
    • For example, ask them how many kilograms of poop an elephant excretes in a year if they produce 96kg of poop every day, or how many days it would take the elephant to poop the same weight as all the children in the class! 

Back view of an elephant with dung droppings

But, of course, if you don’t have the time or energy to write dozens of your own Year 6 Maths problems, you can download our ready-to-teach Maths lessons, which often have differentiated word problems baked right in :-) 


Division word problems 

Long and short division can be a tricky skill to master. Try these Year 6 word problems from our Difficult Division scheme of work to give them a chance to hone their skills: 

  • There are 192 frogs in a pond. A biologist tags one in every 12 frogs so she can study them. How many frogs will she tag? (16) 
  • 21 dancers share the prize for winning a dancing competition. To the nearest pound, how much of the £750 prize will each friend get? Will there be any left over? If so, how much? (£35 each with £15 left over ) 
  • 7843 kg of earth have been dug out of the ground to prepare for the construction of a new music room. The truck takes 11 trips to carry all the earth away. How many kilograms does the truck take on each trip? (713kg) 
  • A bakery bakes a set number of doughnuts each day and it always sells out before the end of the day. If it sells 1426 doughnuts in July (31 days), how many doughnuts does it sell a day? (46)


Time word problems 

Any primary teacher will tell you that teaching ‘time’ in any capacity is usually grounds for an extra large coffee at break time (and an extra large slice of cake for good measure). These Year 6 time word problems from our Time and Money scheme of work will help children convert between units of time: 

  • Azra watched a film. The film started at 19:14 and ended 116 minutes later. What time did the film end? (21:10)
  • Meredith arrived at school at 08:45 and she left at 15:30. How long did she spend at school? (6 hours 45 minutes) 
  • Freya went to babysit for her neighbour. She arrived at 17:50 and left 265 minutes later. What time did she leave? (22:15) 
  • Dan was driving to his uncle’s house in Scotland. He left home at 08:21 then stopped for a half-hour break at 12:34. He then drove until he arrived at his uncle’s at 18:09. How many minutes did he spend driving altogether? (558 minutes) 

Another really good approach to Year 6 time word problems is to give them a time zone map and base word problems around different time zones. The questions below are taken from Time Zone Word Problems lesson: 

  • Imani flies from Gaborone to Nairobi. The flight departs at 11:45 and lasts for 245 minutes. What is the local time in Nairobi when she arrives? (16:50 - she arrives in Gaborone at 15:50 Nairobi time)
  • Arabella flies from Mexico City to Los Angeles. The flight departs at 16:10 and lasts for 262 minutes. What is the local time in Los Angeles when she arrives? (18:32 - she arrives in Los Angeles at 20:32 Mexico City time)
  • Lewis flies from Beijing to Vladivostok. The flight departs at 07:40 and lasts for 271 minutes. What is the local time in Vladivostok when he arrives? (14:11- he arrives in Vladivostok at 12:11 Beijing time)
  • James flies from Anchorage to Manaus. The flight departs at 08:50 and arrives 1141 minutes later. What is the local time in Manaus when James arrives? (08:51- he arrives in Manaus at 03:51 Anchorage time)
Customised PlanBee Time Zone Map from Time and Money lessons

 


Algebra word problems 

Many Year 6 children find algebra a tricky concept to master but once they get it they can really start to feel like accomplished mathematicians. Our Algebra and More About Algebra lesson packs have these examples to help you connect algebra with word problems: 

  • A Year Five child has spent ‘x’ days in school. By the time they leave at the end of Year Six they will have spent ‘y’ days in school. They have ‘z’ days left. Write this as an algebraic equation. (y = x + z) ‘x’ equals nine hundred and seventy-five and ‘y’ equals one thousand, one hundred and seventy. How many days do they have left in primary school? (1170 = 975 + z    »   1170-975 = z   »   z=195)
  • A pizza store makes ‘a’ pizzas in January. In February they make ‘b’ pizzas. They make ‘c’ pizzas in total during January and February. (a + b = c) ‘a’ equals three hundred and sixty, ‘c’ equals eight hundred and forty. How many pizzas did they make in February? (840 - 360 = 480)
  • A farmer collects ‘a’ apples from the trees in his orchards. He used ‘b’ to make apple juice, ‘c’ to make apple sauce and the rest (‘d’) to make cakes and pies. (a = b + c + d) ‘a’ equals four thousand, ‘b’ equals two thousand, six hundred and twenty, ‘c’ equals one thousand, one hundred and twenty. How many does he use for cakes and pies? (4000 = 2620 + 1120 + d  »  4000 = 3740 + d   »  d = 260)
  • I am going to be travelling around the USA in August. Can you help me convert these temperatures to degrees Celsius? You will need to use the formula ºC=(ºF - 32)(0.56): 
    • The highest average temperature in Seattle is 76ºF. What is this in degrees Celsius? (10.56°C)
    • The highest average temperature in San Francisco is 68ºF. What is this in degrees Celsius? (20.16°C) 
    • The highest average temperature in New York is 83ºF. What is this in degrees Celsius? (28.56°C)


Make it silly

Word problems can get tedious after a while. They tend to be worded in clear, formal language so as not to detract from the problem itself. This is all very well and good, and necessary in many cases, but can lead to children becoming disengaged. 

Adding an element of silliness to your word problems will help alleviate the boredom whilst maintaining the necessary level of challenge. It also can help children to develop the skill of looking beyond the words to establish what the question is actually asking them. 

Here are some examples of silly Year 6 word problems from our Using Subtraction and Addition scheme of work (lesson 3): 

  • I worked out that I can get 774.5 ml of custard into a welly boot. That's 482.7 ml more than I can get in a swimming cap. How much custard can I get in a swimming cap and a welly boot, altogether? (1,066.3ml) 
  • I like to precisely measure the amount of liquid I use when I have a bath. Last time, I used 163.29 litres of water, 0.12 litres of bubble bath and 0.06 litres of shower gel. How much liquid did I use? (163.47 litres)

We hope you've found these ideas helpful. Don't forget, we have a complete ready-to-teach Maths curriculum for Year 6 which comes with all the planning, slides and printable activities you need for the year. 

 

View all our Year 6 Maths resources
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