Struggling to find the time or joy in planning place value lessons for third grade students? We’ve got you covered. From how long to teach the unit, what to teach, when to teach it and everything in between… let’s plan your lessons together!
If your school curriculum does not have a solid place value curriculum for third grade, you can check out these lessons to help guide your planning.
Timing Your Place Value Lessons for 3rd Grade
Let’s start by talking about timing. And let’s face the facts… there is a LOT to cover during 3rd grade math throughout the year. Hopefully, students come in with a strong sense of place value from second grade.
If not, don’t fret. However, I would try to limit the amount of time that you spend on a place value unit to no longer than one month, in an effort to fit in all of the other important concepts needing to be taught throughout the year.
I would break my place value unit down into three to four weeks, depending on prior math knowledge.
- OPTIONAL Week One: Second Grade Review (place value models, expanded form and various word problems)
- Week Two: Groups of Ten (multiplying 1 digit numbers by tens AKA counting by 10s and rounding to the nearest 10 and 100)
- Week Three: 2 and 3 Digit Addition (using different strategies including base ten, expanded form, number line and the standard algorithm)
- Week Four: 2 and 3 Digit Subtraction (using different strategies including base ten, expanded form, number line and the standard algorithm)
The good news about this unit is that MOST of these skills, with the exception of rounding, are taught thoroughly in second grade. Depending on students’ prior knowledge, even week’s two and three could be combined into one week, to make this a 2-3 week unit.
Personally, since this unit is mostly review, I like to teach it at the beginning of the year. It is easy to do in the first few weeks of school and a great way to get students used to your math routine.
Depending on your confidence in your students’ prior knowledge or district expectations, it can also be moved to the very end of the year, after state testing.
Optional Second Grade Place Value Review
Let’s start with breaking down what to teach during the second grade review of place value.
These are the perfect lessons to teach during the first few days of the school year because they are generally easy for third graders to master, and most students retain this knowledge fairly easily from year to year.
- Monday: Have students practice working with base ten manipulatives. Students can practice counting thousands, hundreds, tens and ones. Talk about the different place value representations and let them use hands on manipulatives for the most effective instruction. Students in second grade went UP TO 1,000, so they will need a quick lesson on the actual 1,000 block. Students in third grade should be able to count up to 9,999 or 10,000. On the first day, I simply have students practice looking at the blocks and counting them.
- Tuesday: Depending on when you teach this unit, this can be combined with Monday or taught on it’s own. Students will practice looking at the number (for example: 1,245) and then SHOWING that number, either with manipulatives or with quick drawings.
- Wednesday: Review expanded form. Students should be able to look at expanded form in ANY order, with and without missing places, and be able to identify the number. For example: 200+50+1,000+3=2,253 OR 4,000+3+800= 4,803.
- Thursday: Review simple word problems with students that have to do with place value.
- Friday: On Fridays I ALWAYS give a quick quiz to assess how students did during the week. We grade it together and I spend the rest of that math block reviewing with students who are missing certain skills.
The second grade review should be the easiest part of your place value lessons for third grade, and can even be skipped.
Working with Groups of Ten
Once students have reviewed different ways to represent numbers, students should be able to manipulate and work with groups of ten.
Your weekly plan for working with groups of ten during your place value lessons for third grade should cover the following skills:
- Monday: Multiplying 1 digit numbers by ten – this can be shown with base ten blocks or with other models
- Tuesday: Rounding to nearest 10 – this is easiest to represent on a number line
- Wednesday: Rounding to the nearest 100
- Thursday: Switch between rounding to the nearest 10 or 100
- Friday: Quick quiz and reteaching students who are struggling
This is another generally easy week, however, some students REALLY struggle with the concept of rounding numbers.
There are many poems to teach this skill to students, as well as really focusing on using a number line so students conceptually understand WHY those poems make sense.
Add and Subtract 2 & 3 Digit Numbers
You might be wondering HOW adding and subtracting both 2 and 3 digit numbers fits into your third grade place value lessons.
This is a valid question, especially if you are new to third grade.
The importance during these two weeks is focusing on how place value is directly related to addition and subtraction. You can do this by focusing on various strategies to teach addition and subtraction BESIDES just the standard algorithm.
It is ESSENTIAL that students understand more than one strategy AND why the different strategies work.
This is truly how students will show their understanding of place value in third grade and is the MOST IMPORTANT standard in this unit.
Fortunately, this is also covered in second grade. However, regrouping is a VERY difficult skill and many students will need explicit review on this.
You can either teach addition for a week and subtraction for a week OR you can alternate teaching 3 digit addition with a certain strategy one day, and then subtraction with that same strategy the next day. If students are soaring through these strategies, then you can combine addition and subtraction into one day.
The 3 digit addition and subtraction strategies that are essential to cover (and the order I suggest) are:
- Using Base Ten Models to Add and Subtract 3 Digit Numbers (Monday)
- 2 and 3 Digit Addition and Subtraction with Expanded Form
- Adding and Subtracting 3 Digit Numbers on a Number Line
- Using the Standard Algorithm to Add and Subtract 3 Digit numbers
The amount of time you spend on this part of your place value lessons for third grade HIGHLY depends on your students. If you need a deeper dive on how to teach each strategy, check out my tips for teaching addition and teaching subtraction.
I recommend teaching this for a full 2 weeks if you have it, and focusing for one full week on addition and one full week on subtraction. However, if you need to combine time, you can always reteach and revisit this throughout the year.
Assessing Place Value Lessons for Third Grade
As I stated earlier, I think assessing your students weekly is the way to go.
I typically pick one problem from the skills taught each day to do a quick check on if they are understanding these concepts or not.
At the end of the unit, I generally give a post test on all of the skills.
Before moving to the next unit, I make sure that 80% of my students have 80% mastery or more before moving on.
I also take note of who scored below 80%, what areas they need help with, and we focus on those areas going forward.
Place Value Lessons for Third Grade
I use this unit to teach place value lessons for third grade.
I also do DAILY 3 digit addition and subtraction review in my math rotations. This can be done during centers, independent work, or on the computer.
Let me know what questions you still have!