Math Word Problems for 3rd Graders

Word problems allow students the opportunity to apply their math skills in authentic situations. All too often, children are able to do numeric problems but find themselves at a loss when faced with a word problem. Some of the best problems to do are those where the unknown is located in either the beginning or the middle of the problem. For example, instead of asking "I have 29 balloons and the wind blew eight of them away, how many do I have left?," ask: "I had quite a few balloons but the wind blew eight of them away, and now I only have 21 balloons left. How many did I have to begin?" Or, "I had 29 balloons, but the wind blew a few away, and now I only have 21. How many balloons did the wind blow away?"

Word Problem Examples

Elementary school children writing in class
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As teachers and parents, we are often very good at creating or using word problems where the unknown value is located at the end of the question. These types of problems can be too challenging for young children, though. Try changing the position of the unknown to create problems that are easier for beginning math students to solve.

Another type of problem that is great for young learners is a two-step problem, which requires them to solve for one unknown before solving for another. Young students, once they have mastered basic word problems, can practice two-step (and three-step) problems to work on more challenging concepts. These problems help students learn how to process and relate complex sets of information. Examples of such problems are:

  1. Each case of oranges has 12 rows of 12 oranges. The school principal wants to buy enough oranges to make sure that every student gets an orange. There are 524 students in the school. How many cases does the principal need to buy?
  2. A woman wants to plant tulips in her flower garden. She has enough room to plant 24 tulips. The tulips can be purchased in bunches of five for $7.00 a bunch, or they can be purchased for $1.50 each. The woman wants to spend as little money as possible. What should she do and why?
  3. The 421 students at Eagle School are going on a trip to the zoo. Each bus has 72 seats. There are also 20 teachers going on the trip to supervise the students. How many buses are needed to make sure that all of the students and teachers are able to go to the zoo?

Students will often need to re-read a question to make sure they have all of the information they need. They should also be encouraged to read the question again to make sure that they actually understand what the question is asking them to solve for.

Worksheet #1

Worksheet # 1

Deb Russell 

This worksheet features several basic word problems for young math students.

Worksheet #2

Worksheet # 2

Deb Russell

This worksheet features a set of intermediate word problems for young students who have already mastered basic skills. To solve these problems, students will need to have an understanding of how to count money.

Worksheet #3

Worksheet # 3

 Deb Russell

This worksheet features several multi-step problems for advanced students.