Navigate back to the K Tools Learn @ Home page.

As your child follows the Tools Astronaut on adventures through ecosystems, one linked story problem each day inspires mathematical thinking!

See below for Story Problems that accompany each adventure, and guidance on how to help your child get the most out of this activity.


In the classroom, we help make math learning concrete by using “manipulatives” in activities—small, moveable objects that give children hands-on experience understanding concepts. You probably have some objects you can use as manipulatives in your home—pennies, LEGO bricks, bingo chips, etc. You’ll want 20-30 objects that are the same size. If you don’t have something like this on hand, click here for a sheet of squares to print and cut.

Talking to Think

Encourage your child to use manipulatives while solving problems, and to think out loud. As we say in Tools of the Mind, “Talking is thinking!” When your child has completed a problem, prompt them to “tell me how you got that.” Explaining one’s thinking is critical to problem solving and is where understanding is gained. Watch this child explain their thinking.

Increasing the Challenge

If you would like to increase the challenge for your child, you can retell the problem and increase the quantities.

The Story Problems

There is one story problem for each day of Astronaut Adventures! Check back weekly, we add a new story problem each time a new day of adventures is posted.

Day #1: You have been living on the International Space Station with astronauts from all over the world. 3 astronauts are from Russia, and 7 astronauts (including you) are from the United States. How many astronauts are there all together?

Day #2: You have just landed back on Earth in your space capsule. You open the door and take 4 steps out of the spacecraft, then you take 3 more steps.  How many steps did you take all together?

Day #3: The weather outside is just right, so you decide to take a walk. When walking through the trees you see 2 footprints, and then you see 4 more footprints. How many footprints do you see all together?

Day #4: On your walk you find a skeleton. You look at the skeleton and you see 3 sharp teeth and 2 flat teeth.  How many teeth do you see all together?

Day #5: You see something move in the woods. Is that a grizzly bear? There were 7 berries on the bush. The grizzly bear ate 2 berries. How many berries are left?

Day #6: With so many trees and now a bear, you realize you must have landed in a forest ecosystem. You stop to rest and lean against a tree. There are 6 branches on the tree. 2 branches broke off. How many branches are left on the tree?

Day #7: You can hear water and decide to go on a hike to investigate. On your hike, you pick up 6 rocks. You accidently drop 2 of the rocks. How many rocks do you have left?  

Day #8: Your stomach starts to grumble, what can you find to eat for dinner? You go to the river and catch 5 fish, then you catch 3 more fish. How many fish did you catch all together?

Day #9: While fishing, you notice the fish appear the same color as their environment. They are camouflaged just like the ninjas. You caught 7 fish at the river. 2 were too small, so you tossed them back. How many fish do you have left? 

Day #10: The sun is going down and the temperature is getting colder. You will need a shelter for the night. You found 4 branches and 4 palm leaves to build your shelter. How many items all together did you find to build your shelter?

Day #11: You decide to go fishing for your breakfast. You bring two buckets with you. After you catch some fish, each bucket has 3 fish in it. How many fish did you catch all together?

Day #12: Now that the rain has stopped, you can’t wait to hike up the smallest mountain. You must pack your backpack first. You put 8 hiking supplies in your backpack, but it won’t zip closed so you take 2 supplies out. How many supplies are in your backpack?   

Day #13: You have reached the bottom of the mountain and it’s starting to snow. You can see your footprints in the snow. First there are 3 footprints, and then you make 5 more footprints. How many footprints can you see in the snow?

Day #14: The snow has stopped, but it’s so cold outside.  

As you cover up with a blanket to stay warm you see 5 bison and 5 squirrels trying to stay warm, too.  

How many animals do you see all together?

Day #15: About halfway up the mountain, you notice the plants look different. You pick a few to investigate later. 

You have 2 bags and you put 4 plants in each bag. 

How many plants did you pick to investigate?