Word problems in fourth grade math should challenge students to show their mastery of math concepts such as multiplication and division. Students should be able to solve simple problems as well as more challenging problems that require multiple steps.
The Common Core standards for fourth grade math give insight into the types of word problems appropriate for the grade level. Most fourth grade word problems only require interpretation and one computational step.
One standard requires students to show that they are able to divide two-digit numbers by one-digit numbers. An example of a word problem addressing this standard is, "Michael is buying candy bars to give to visitors on Halloween. If candy bars come in boxes of eight, and he expects to give candy to 48 kids, how many boxes of candy does he need to buy?" Solving this problem correctly requires students to perform just one division computation.
To prepare students for more demanding math coursework in the fifth grade and beyond, multiple-step word problems are woven into the fourth grade math standards, as well. One example of such a problem is, "Eric has $20 in his wallet and then receives $5 as a birthday gift. He goes to the mall with his parents and buys a $7 movie ticket and a $4 popcorn at the cinema. How much money does he have left after the movie?" Each individual step in the problem is straightforward, but critical thinking is required to identify the correct number operations and the order in which to perform them.