RCPS Math Curriculum - Grade 3

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Third Grade Math Teaching Strategies

3rd Grade Essential Diet for Math



  • 5-10 minutes: check homework

  • 10 minutes: review concepts previously taught or give "problem of the day"

  • 35-40 minutes: teach new concept or re-teach concepts or extension activities; guided or independent practice; summary of lesson NOTE: Guided practice should include more time than independent practice. Independent practice can take the form of homework.

  • 5 minutes: assign homework according to policy and spot check for understanding NOTE: Homework should not be assigned unless teacher feels concept taught has been mastered in guided practice. Homework can also be a review of concepts previous taught. Extension activities for homework helps to challenge those that have mastered concepts taught.


  • Mental math or math facts (review)

  • Problem solving strategies or SOL Practice (teach-guided practice-independent practice)

  • Re-teach concepts or extension activities (teach-guided practice-independent practice)

  • Hands-on activities (teach-guided practice-independent practice)

  • Cumulative review (review)

  • Cooperative groups (guided practice)

  • Quiz/test/SOL Practice (independent)

  • Cornerstone (independent practice)

  • Paper/pencil activities (guided-independent activities)

3rd Grade Teaching Strategies

General Tips

  • Start with Chapter 2 first. It is a review of 2nd grade material and will make students feel successful. Follow-up with Chapter 1 as this introduces new material.

  • The amount of time spent on each topic will vary according to class needs. Don't feel you need to follow each lesson or do all of the lessons in the book. Combine lessons and/or spend more time when appropriate.

  • Constantly review all concepts previously taught. Introduce SOL testing format early in the year and use it often so that students are prepared and comfortable with the format.

  • Don't just give answers to students. Answer their question with a question or give a suggestion. For example, draw an array to figure out a multiplication fact.

  • Use real world connections as much as possible.

  • Integrate math into other curriculum, for example, science and measurement, history and timelines.

  • Math vocabulary is very important. Use it and explain it.

  • Most important topics: place value, number sense, rounding, addition/subtraction/multiplication/division concepts and fact families 0 through 9, fractions, and decimals.



  • Place Value

  • Use consistent place value charts.

  • Start with manipulatives:

  • Cups and beans:

  • Materials: Place value grid, 3 different size cups &endash; small cups for the tens place and a larger cup for the hundreds place and so on. The clear plastic ones allow the students to see the beans better and can be used on an overhead as well.), dried beans

  • Give the students a number, ex. 92. Ask how many are in the ones place. Show two beans in the ones place on the place value grid (paper divided into ones, tens and hundreds marked at the top of each column). How many tens? Explain that there are 9 groups (cups) of ten. Students count out 9 groups of ten beans and put in the cups. Place these cups on the place value grid in the tens place. Explain why they had to cup the beans. (Cup meaning moving the group of ten beans to the next place value.) You can further extend this to hundreds by asking them to add 8 to this number. What happens? Students will have to "cup" the ten ones and move that to the tens place. Then "cup" the ten tens in a larger cup and move to the hundreds place, while explaining that you can't have more than 9 units in any place value. Talk about zero being a place holder. Have students write the new number. This can be repeated with a variety of numbers and can be used to just show how each number looks on the place value grid. This activity can be used to show regrouping in addition and subtraction.

  • Base-ten blocks: Use the same exercises as described above using base-ten blocks so that students are familiar with the text and SOL format.

  • Move to paper and pencil: Call out numbers to students and have them write the number on individual place value grids.

  • ** This is a good time to introduce standard, expanded, and word form of numbers.

Other activities:

  • Dice game: Materials: Place value grid and one die per group (the large rubber die work well). Have students get into groups of four or five. Start by explaining the game: the object of the game will be to make either the largest or smallest number using the numbers rolled on the die. Students can create up to a six-digit number by rolling the die six times and deciding where to place each roll on the place value grid. For example, if the goal is to create the largest number, and the students roll a 6, one would hope they would place the six in the largest place value. Discuss what the largest and smallest possible numbers would be. This same game could be expanded to include decimals.

  • Bean Place Value Chart: See Chapter 1, Lesson 6 in the text. This can be expanded to include ten thousands and hundred thousands. It is recommended to use the same size of containers to show magnitude of each place value.


  • It is imperative that students understand place value to understand the concept of rounding.

  • Use a place value grid and base-ten blocks to represent a given number. For example, 182. Model how to round first to the tens place. Reinforce where the tens place is, then explain that you need to look to the column to the right. Is the number between 0-4 or 5-9? Explain that if the number is between 0-4, the tens value stays the same. If the number is between 5-9, the tense value increases by 1. Then explain how to round to the hundreds place. This exercise also reinforces place value.

  • Number lines: After demonstrating rounding by using a place value grid, show students how they can also use a number line to round. For example, is the number 182 closer to 180 or 190?


  • Start with manipulatives. Unifix cubes work well. Have each student build the array for each multiplication fact. After building the array, have the student write the fact. Refer to Chapter 5, Lesson 3 in the text.

  • Combine manipulatives and 1x1 grid paper. Have students build arrays on the grid paper and write the facts on the grid paper. This introduces the students to the format they will see on the SOL and in the text. It also sets a foundation for learning area and perimeter.

  • Have students move to coloring arrays on 1/4 inch grid paper. Again, students should write the fact after each array. This can be done for all of the multiplication facts and kept in a math folder.

  • It is important at this point that students are memorizing the facts through 9.

  • Show students that multiplication is a fast way to add.

  • Games: Use multiplication wrap-ups. Have students get into groups of 2 and take turns completing the wrap and timing each other. These are made by Learning Wrap-ups Inc. and are included in the 10 Days to Multiplication Mastery book.

  • Put students in groups of three. Give them a pack of playing cards with the face cards removed. Students put the cards into two stacks. One students turns a card over from each stack. The other two students must multiply the numbers on the cards together and say the correct answer first. The student who turns the cards also serves as the referee and decides if the answers are correct.


  • Start with manipulatives. Have students distribute manipulatives into groups. For example, 20/4: Students should create 4 groups (circles, cups, etc.) and begin to distribute the 20 manipulatives one at a time into the groups until they have no manipulatives left to distribute. Write the fact 20/4= 5 because there are 5 objects in each group.

  • Explain that division is a fast way to subtract. Using the exercise above, have the student subtract 4 objects each time they have distributed, i.e. 20-4=16, 16-4= 12, … They will note that they have subtracted 4 five times.


  • Start with manipulatives. Use Hershey's Fraction Book (by Jerry Pallotta), pizza, and giant cookies also work well.

  • Use Fraction Tiles in conjunction with the textbook to investigate comparing fractions, equivalent fractions, common denominators, etc. Have students move to paper and pencil and draw fraction circles and bars.


  • Have students make a clock face using paper plates. Then cut additional plates showing 5, 10, 15, 30, and 45 minute intervals. Rotate the intervals starting at different points on the clock. Emphasize that time can start and stop at any point on the clock (not just at the 12).

  • When beginning elapsed time, have students practice moving the clock hands to determine the time elapsed.

  • Begin the time unit using linear numbers. Have the numbers that are on a clock laying in a line. Discuss five minute intervals, one minute intervals, etc. using a pointer, but allow students to see them in a line. Once students grasp the concept, introduce the actual clock.


  • You must have a play money set or real money to get students familiar with what all of the coins and bills look like.

  • Students must be able to identify and add up coins.

  • Once students are familiar with the actual coins, move to paper and pencil and have students identify pictures and amounts of bills and coins, as this will be the format of the SOL test.

  • Games like Monopoly, allowance games, etc. are effective. Games should involve purchasing and making change.


  • Use four Unifix cubes to represent one unit of measurement ("inch"). Explain that breaking them in half will give you 1/2 inch pieces. You can further break them down into 1/4 inch pieces.

  • Use graduated rules (can be ordered from School Specialty) to practice measuring and recognizing 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 inches. These can be bought in 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16 increments.

  • Capacity: It is imperative that you have jars of the various capacities to allow students to experiment.


  • Use manipulatives (colored ones work well) to demonstrate the concept of probability. For example, count out 3 red tiles and 5 blue tiles. Have students predict the probability first. Then have students pull tiles out of the bag. Record each outcome and compare repeated trials.


  • Always have students write the rule of the pattern: add 2, subtract 3, etc.

Place Value

  • Give students a sheet of paper that has place value charts through the thousands copied several times on it. Roll a dice 4 times and have students choose wear they will put the number on their chart to make the biggest and/or smallest number. Repeat this activity several times until students grasp the concept. Then, allow students to work in small groups.


Other Notes:

*MATH MINUTE-Each chapter lesson begins with math minute. It provides a quick daily review. See the teacher's edition for each lesson.

*PROBLEM OF THE DAY-Good opening activity. See the teacher's edition. May be available on flip chart or overhead.

*TECHNOLOGY-Computer software is available for use with each lesson. Can use as a weekly review in the computer lab. See teacher's edition for information about MathProcessor and Math Blaster 1.

*WRAP UP-This is found in each lesson in the teacher's edition. Can be used as a morning opener review or as a wrap up to each lesson.

*BUILDING VOCABULARY-Found at the beginning of each new chapter. Use for introduction to each lesson as well as word of the day activity.

*VOCABULARY REVIEW-Found with the Checkpoint activities in each chapter. Use as a matching word card activity-matching the index card with the definition written on it to the card with the term on it. Also make a calendar of math terms. Each student gets a calendar and each day for the morning opener or at the beginning of math class, students write the word in a sentence, a definition of the word or they write an example of the math term. The word cards can also be used with a pocket chart to play a game similar to concentration.

*CHAPTER ASSESSMENT- Available for all chapters. The extra practices and chapter tests as well as the pretests and posttests provide good review. The posttest can be copied as class sets of tests (not to be written on by the student) and used with a bubble answer sheet for practice.

*CUMULATIVE REVIEW-Found at the end of each chapter. Excellent review and good for use with bubble answer sheets, however, the test covers material not yet introduced if the chapters are followed in chapter order. These reviews can be used as good practice shortly before testing time.



Adding and subtracting proper fractions. --on the state test

Creating patterns. Needs additional practice, especially using pictures. --Lots on the state test