top of page

Top 5 Skills of 3rd Grade Math in Order of Importance

In third grade, students continue to build on the basic concepts of mathematics that they learned in earlier grades. Here are the five most important things they learn in math this year.

Whether you're a parent, a 3rd-grade teacher, or a special edition teacher, this article is a must-read to help you focus on what skills are most essential and in what order to teach them.

#1 Multiplication Facts

Knowing all single digit multiplication math facts is required fluency for all third grade math students. In third grade, children learn single-digit multiplication facts that were not learned in second grade: 7 x 8 = 56; 7 x 9 = 63; 7 x 10 = 70; 8 x 9 = 72; 8 x 10 = 80; 8 x 11 = 88; 9 x 10 = 90; and 9 x 11= 99.

This is a required fluency, which means that every student must answer these multiplication problems quickly and accurately. For example, when students encounter division in fourth grade, they will need to know these facts to divide.

Multiplication Fluency

To be successful in mathematics, students need to have a strong foundation in basic skills. One of the most critical basic skills is recalling multiplication facts quickly and accurately (instant recall). This skill is called fluency, and it is essential for students who want to excel in math.

Mental Math

It involves solving problems without using pencil and paper. It requires that students understand the concepts behind the problems and solve them in their heads. It can be used when doing calculations on the fly, such as checking your change at a store or working out a tip.

Students need to practice both fluency and mental math to develop strong number sense.

#2 Addition and Subtraction within one thousand

Adding and subtracting within one thousand (four digit numbers) is a required fluency for all third-grade math students. The most common way to teach addition and subtraction with regrouping (the "carrying" method) is introduced in this grade level, usually with single-digit problems. In third grade, kids learn that addition and subtraction with regrouping is a more efficient way of solving these types of problems.

#3 Multiplication and division within one hundred

Students begin to gain fluency with single-digit multiplication facts (facts learned in second grade). Then, using the standard algorithm taught earlier, they learn to multiply two numbers whose product is less than or equal to 100.

Equal groups

To understand multiplication, students need to first learn about equal groups. When objects are divided into equal groups, each group will have the same number of objects. This is what multiplication is all about.

Students learn about equal-sized groups in second grade when they are introduced to basic multiplication facts (e.g., 4 x 5 = 20). They continue to develop this understanding as third-grade students learn more complex multiplication problems (e.g., 9 x 10 = 90).

Multiplication is not just a memorization task; it is an important concept that helps students make sense of our world. With a strong foundation in multiplication, students can confidently tackle any mathematics problem.

Multiplication and Division Fact Families

Most people think of multiplication and division as two completely separate operations. But in reality, they are related. Multiplication is just repeated addition, and division is just repeated subtraction. This relationship is called a fact family.

Fact Family

A fact family is a collection of related facts that all solve one big problem. For example, the 3 times table (3, 6, 9, 12…) is a fact family. The 6 times table (6, 12, 18, 24…) is also a fact family. They are both related to the number 3 because 3 multiplied by any number will always give you the same result.

Multiplication and division fact families have two multiplication facts and two division facts. All of the facts use the same three numbers.

#4 Fractions

Students can understand fractions in this grade as numbers on a number line are essential for understanding multiplication and division fractions. A fraction bar can be used when fractions are shown as parts of a whole. For example, one-fourth can be read "1 over 4" and two-thirds can be read "2 over 3."

Students need to understand equivalent fractions such as 2/3 and 4/6. When presented with a problem involving mixing fractions, students will be able to mix the two fractions using equivalent fractions.

Word problems

In third grade, kids learn how to solve word problems involving division with remainders (e.g., 4/5 of a jelly bean jar is 48 beans). They also study unit fractions and improper fractions, which they can use to represent part of a whole or parts of something when dividing it into equal pieces. Additional topics include perimeter and measuring areas in square units or square units in given areas (by multiplying the length times width).

Word problems involve solving math problems using everyday situations. On the other hand, real-world problems give students a chance to apply their third-grade math skills to real-life scenarios. For example, You have some jelly beans in a jar, and you want to divide them between two friends, so each child gets the same number of jelly beans. How many will each friend get?

#5 Measurement Understanding concepts of area

At this grade level, students are introduced to area. They also learn about perimeter and begin to measure areas of rectangles in square units or square units in given areas (by multiplying the length times width).

What do 3rd graders learn in Math?

Students build on the basic skills and concepts learned in previous grades in this grade. They become fluent with multiplication facts, addition and subtraction within 1,000, and division/multiplication within 100. They also begin to understand fractions as numbers (e.g., 2/3), solve word problems involving division with remainders, and measure areas using square units.

Additional elementary school skills that can be covered in third grade are interpreting data

Interpret Data

A bar graph is a simple and useful way to show data on two (or more) variables. Each variable has its own axis, the horizontal and vertical lines that connect all of the points.

Bar Graphs

The top line indicates how much money was spent each month; the bottom line displays what type of expense it was. Notice that as monthly spending increases, so do costs such as food and entertainment.

The color-coding also helps distinguish which expenditures are higher than others--green for low-cost items like gas or electricity; red for more expensive items such as food or clothing; blue for entertainment expenses.

Picture graphs and circle graphs are similar to bar graphs in that they show data on two (or more) variables. The difference is that both variables share the same axis, and categories of information are shown along this line.


In third grade, students are introduced to shapes. They learn about the three basic shapes (triangle, square and rectangle) and combine them to make other geometric figures. For example, a triangle is made of three right triangles; a square is two rectangles put together side by side; while a rectangle is four squares put together in two rows.

They also start understanding the difference between convex and concave forms and identify parallel lines that run in opposite directions on either side of an axis.

Two Dimensional Shapes

The two-dimensional shapes which can be found at this level are: a quadrilateral with four straight sides; square with four right angles; rectangle with four right angles; rhombus with all interior angles equal; triangle has three interior angles greater than zero degrees.

Three Dimensional Shapes

At this level, students learn about the three-dimensional shapes found at this level: square with four right angles; cube has six square faces.

Thank you for checking out this post. If you need more information about 3rd grade math basics, don't hesitate to contact us.

For special education teachers looking for IEP math goals related to any of the above 3rd-grade math concepts or math skills: - High-quality, standards-aligned third-grade math IEP goals

bottom of page