Order of Operations with Whole Numbers: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Dina Albert
In math we work with four main operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. But what happens if we're asked to solve a problem that mixes them together? Well in this lesson, you'll learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers when they appear together in problems.

Order of Operations

Numbers are one of the ways we talk to each other. Telling people how old you are, figuring out how many gifts you need for your friends or deciding how much candy to buy for a party all require understanding and using numbers.

To solve problems that involve more than one operation, we need to follow rules for operations also known as the order of operations.


Note that there are exceptions to this order. For example, if a problem only has multiplication and division, then we solve the problem by working from left to right. If a problem only has addition and subtraction, then we also solve the problem by working from left to right.

Two Mixed Operations

Let's practice using the rules to solve this problem: 12 + 2 x 3. According to the order of operations, we should work with the numbers in the parentheses first and the exponents second, but as there aren't any, we can move on. Then we come to multiplication, and since there is multiplication in the problem, that's where we'll start.


In the next example, we're solving a problem that has only multiplication and division, so we start solving from left to right.


Three Or More Mixed Operations

Now, let's try solving problems involving three or more operations. We'll start by solving: 12 x 3 - 2 + 6.

According to the order of operations. Operations in parentheses and exponents come first, but as once again we don't have any, we'll move on to multiplication.


In the above example, when addition and subtraction were the only operations left, we started solving from left to right.

Let's solve another problem: 20 / 2 - 3 x 3 + 1.

Since we have three operations, we need to complete them in order. First, we need to perform the multiplication because multiplication should be done before division if there is another operation involved, in this case, addition and subtraction.

1.) 20 / 2 - 3 x 3 + 1.

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