This approach to problem solving is based on a KWL chart for reading. The students really grasp this concept and it is beneficial for organizing their thoughts. Scroll down for a sample problem and response. Here is a more indepth look at this problem solving chart:


Sample Problem and KWCL Response
Gumballs cost 8 cents. You have 1 quarter, 1 dime, 2 nickels and 3 pennies. How many balloons can you buy?
Gumballs cost 8 cents. You have 1 quarter, 1 dime, 2 nickels and 3 pennies. How many balloons can you buy?
K
What do you know? W
What is your strategy? C Carry out your plan. L Look back and explain. 
I know that gumballs cost 8 cents. I have 1 quarter, 1 dime, 2 nickels and 3 pennies.
To solve this problem I will add up all of the money and draw a picture.
25+10+5+5+3=48 I have $0.48 Key: O=Gumballs, X= 1 Penny, ( )=Total so far X X X X X X X X (8)= O X X X X X X X X (16)= O X X X X X X X X (24)= O X X X X X X X X( 32)= O X X X X X X X X (40)= O X X X X X X X X (48)= O Answer: 6 Gumballs I wrote down what I knew and my strategy to solve this problem. Then I added up all of the money and got a total of $0.48. Since gumballs cost $0.08 each, I drew a picture grouping 8 pennies together. For every 8 pennies I know I can buy one gumball. I counted the pennies until I got to 48. I have 6 groups of 8, so I can buy 6 gumballs. 
Attention: This response may be more in depth that what a child would typically respond with when first seeing a problem like this. I show the responses with a lot more details to help students work to achieve more. Over time, the students are able to meet any expectation you set for them!