Common Core Standards: Mathematical Concepts Your Child Should Learn in Grade 3 - dummies

Common Core Standards: Mathematical Concepts Your Child Should Learn in Grade 3

By Jared Myracle

Multiplication, division, and fractions are key components of the skills and concepts students encounter for Common Core Standards in Grade 3. Students also continue to work with shapes. Common Core Standards in Grade 3 focus on three key areas:

  • Multiplication and division: Students multiply and divide whole numbers with numbers from 1 to 100. They use various strategies to support their understanding of the relationship between multiplication and division.

  • Fractions: Students begin to work with unit fractions — those that have 1 as the numerator, such as 1/2 and 1/5.

  • Two-dimensional shapes: Students use the characteristics of two-dimensional shapes, such as sides and angles, to explain similarities and differences between shapes.

If your child struggles with these concepts initially, refer to a previous grade level where the ways of thinking needed to understand multiplication, division, and fractions are introduced. For example, you may engage your child in adding equal groups of objects (as in Grade 2) to better understand the concept of multiplication.

Operations and algebraic thinking

In Grade 3, students continue to practice multiplication while being introduced to the concept of division. Students multiply and divide using numbers 1 to 100 and use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to solve word problems with two steps. Students also work to find patterns that exist when multiplying numbers.

Practice multiplication and division within 100 until your child can complete the calculations with minimal hesitation. Start with easier tasks, such as multiplying and dividing with small numbers and increments of five, and progress in difficulty. Look for ways to incorporate multiplication and division in everyday activities, such as calculating the number of dimes in a dollar or the number of nickels in a quarter.

Number and operations in base ten

Students round to the nearest 10 or 100 and add or subtract numbers from 1 to 1,000 using their understanding of the ones, tens, and hundreds places. Multiplication using single digit numbers and increments of 10 (using 10 to 90) is also incorporated.

Reinforce your child’s understanding of place value by encouraging him to describe the value of the ones, tens, and hundreds places in relation to each other with each practice problem that he tries. Make this relevant by using the ages of your family members to compare and contrast ages with an emphasis on place value.

Number and operations: Fractions

Grade 3 math builds an understanding of fractions as parts of a whole. This includes identifying fractions on a number line and comparing the size or amount of fractions; for example, 1/2 is larger than 1/3.

The concept of a fraction can be difficult to comprehend at first, so keep it simple and relate it to real-world applications. Use everyday objects to represent a part of a whole. Start with an even group of objects, such as four spoons. Haven them verbalize that one spoon is one out of four, or 1/4. Repeated practice in this manner helps to take the fear out of fractions.

Food items work great in demonstrating fractions. Cut an apple in half or a pizza in eight equal slices. Ask your child to verbalize that half an apple is one out of two or 1/2 and have her write the fraction.

With the pizza, you can count each slice as a part of the whole. The main point is that she understand how to count fractional units and how to compare them to the number of units that make up the whole.

Measurement and data

Measurement skills expand to include estimation and further degrees of detail. Data is presented in various forms and with multiple categories, such as a chart or graph that shows responses or results from a survey with multiple questions administered to several people.

Students tell time to the nearest minute and expand their understanding of shapes by finding the perimeter of a shape and using multiplication to find the area of rectangles. They also estimate and measure liquid volumes using standard units.

Continue to focus on details, such as telling time to the minute and describing characteristics of shapes. Focus more on the parts of a shape (for example, sides, perimeter, and diameter) rather than the shape itself to reinforce your child’s understanding of area and perimeter. Have your child measure the bedrooms to determine their area in square feet and determine who in the family has the largest and smallest bedrooms.


Students continue to use characteristics of shapes to classify them into categories. Fractions are also incorporated as students practice expressing parts of shapes as fractions related to the whole.

Take another opportunity to work with fractions as they relate to the area of shapes. Use building blocks or objects that can be stacked together as a whole. Have your child measure the total area of the rectangle constructed by the blocks. Then instruct your child to divide the shape into two equal parts and measure the area again.

Talk to your child about the relationship between her first measurement of the entire area and her second measurement of the two smaller shapes.