Word Problem of the Week: Mathematical Mixed Bag III

Dec 9, 2020 | Richmond BC


The great thing about word problems is that they help us understand the world around us. This week we have another “mathematical mixed bag” of questions ranging from flowers in a garden to kitten sleeps.

So look below and choose the problem that’s the right skill level for your child. Have them give it a try. And when they feel they’ve found the answer, check their solution against ours on the next page.


Lower Elementary:
Question: Ella plants a dozen seeds. Half of those seeds sprout and grow into plants. Each of those plants grows 3 flowers. How many flowers does Ella have?

Upper Elementary:
Question: A truck that weighs 4 tons when empty carries 1 ton of gravel. The driver unloads 500 pounds of gravel at a construction site. How many pounds do the truck and the gravel weigh in total now?

Middle School:
Question: Mason scores 40 points on his fifth of five quizzes, increasing his average score to 32 points. What was Mason’s average score after the first four quizzes?

Algebra and Up:
Question: Puppies sleep an average of 12 hours each day. Kittens sleep an average of 20 hours each day. If a puppy is 4 weeks older than a newborn kitten, then how old will the kitten be when the kitten and the puppy have gotten the same amount of sleep in total?


Excellent!  Are you ready to check your child’s answer? Look below to see if their solution matches ours.

Lower Elementary:
Answer:  18 flowers
Solution:  A dozen means 12. Since half of Ella’s 12 planted seeds sprout, that means 6 seeds sprout and grow into plants. Each of those plants grows 3 flowers, so Ella has 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 18 flowers.

Upper Elementary:
Answer:   9,500 pounds
Solution:  A ton is 2,000 pounds; the truck itself weighs 2,000 × 4 = 8,000 pounds. The truck starts with 2,000 pounds of gravel, so after it leaves the construction site, it has 2,000 – 500 = 1,500 pounds of gravel in the back. In total, that’s 8,000 + 1,500 = 9,500 pounds.

Middle School:
Answer:   30 points
Solution:  If Mason’s average point score over 5 tests was 32 points, then he must have earned 32 × 5 = 160 points in total. Before his last test, he had 160 – 40 = 120 points over 4 tests. Therefore, his average score after 4 tests was 120 ÷ 4 = 30 points.

Algebra and Up:
Answer:   42 days
Solution:  There are 28 days in 4 weeks, so the puppy has gotten 12 × 28 = 336 hours of sleep by the time the kitten is born. We want to know when the amount of sleep is equal. The kitten sleeps at a rate of 20 hours per day, and the puppy sleeps 12 per day with a 336-hour lead. We can set up the following equation and solve for d days:

20= 12d + 336
d = 42

The kitten will be 42 days old.