Math is all about problem solving. One of the best ways to help children learn math is to present them with a problem in which they have to devise their own strategies to find the solution(s). There is usually more than 1 way to solve math problems and children need the opportunity to discover shortcuts and their own algorithms to determine the appropriate solution, they should also justify their solution(s).
The following math word problems are specific for children in the third grade and are divided into the main math cagegories: Number Concepts, Patterns and Algebra, Geometry and Measurement, Data Management and Probability. Children should be involved in problem solving activities every day. Problems for second grade students should be read to them. Students should also be able to describe why their solutions work or how they know it's the right solution. My favorite question to children is 'how do you know'. When they have to explain how they arrived at their answer, you immediately know the learning that has taken place.
Patterns and Algebra
Using colored blocks, create patterns for the 3rd grade student to determine what comes next and ask them to share 'how they know'. Provide number patterns e.g., 88, 77, 66 and ask what comes next. Here's a few samples: 100, 89, 78....... or 100, 99, 97, 94......Also, use a hundred's chart and look for a variety of patterns (counting by 5's, 2's etc, use diagonals, horizontal and vertical lines on the hundred's chart to find the patterns.
Data Management and Probability
Using eye color, hair color or shoe type, conduct a poll on at least 15 people. Ask the child to represent the data on 2 different types of charts or graphs. They may use a pictograph, pie graph, tally chart etc. Find graphs or bar charts in the paper and ask them to help you interpret the graphs. Sundae Shop Question: There are 3 types of sundae toppings (chocolate chips, colored sprinkles and smarties) How many different types of sundaes are possible with the three different toppings? You may have 1,2 or 3 toppings. Ask the child to explain 'how they know'.
Note, children in the 3rd grade should be able to add and subtract 3 digit numbers and should understand very basic division and multiplication. (Usually through sharing and groupins) Sample problems: The teacher brought 35 erasers for her 35 students, 18 students had erasers. How many erasers does the teacher have left?.
Geometry and Measurement.
Have children go on a shape walk. They will identify everything that is similar to a rectangular solid, cylinder etc. They should also identify which shapes have lines of symmetry. Draw pictures of shapes on a piece of paper. Ask students to show what the shape would look like from a mirror or rotated half way, ask them to draw what it would look like. (This is called flips, slides or turns of shapes)Sample Problem: My new bedroom is 10x8 and I want a new hockey player border around the walls. How many feet of border do I need?