Joyce reads a subtraction word problem to the class and her students (disguised with animal masks) act out the problem. The class then discusses the problem, its meaning, and how to solve it. Joyce continues this routine until all students have had a chance to act out a problem.
I tell the students that we are going to take away problems. I pass out the masks to the students and then I call different combinations of animals in front of the class. I count off a group of four students to go to the front of the room. I say to the students, "There are 4 animals in the barnyard. Gordy invites 2 cows to come to his party in the barn. How many animals are left?" I have the cows step off to the side. I call on a student to answer the question. I then invite the class to say the number sentence with me, "4 take away 2 is 2."
Sarah introduces students to the break apart method as a means of chunking to make meaning of multi-step problems. Sarah's students underline each step of the problem to break the problem into more manageable chunks.