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June 3, 2009

Word Problems for 3rd Grade Math

Our first week of our new year is going well. The kiddos are enjoying the work and we are getting through it at a pretty good rate. Of course the first weeks back are in some ways review so it's pretty quick.

DS, math problems confused me today and I'm not sure how to find the answer, other then making a calendar (and that's what we did). I took the easy way out today. Now mind you it's the 3rd day of 3rd grade so I'm really not sure what they expected him to do.

I'll give you the word problem here: (We are using MCP: Mathematics Level C)
In the United States, Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday in November. What are the earliest and the latest dates on which this holiday can fall?

The following word problem for the day had to do with Canada's Thanksgiving:
In Canada, Thanksgiving Day is the second Monday in October. What are the earliest and latest dates on which this holiday can fall?

There was a total of 10 word problems today and these, listed above, were the last two of the day. He was able to use the steps for the other 8 problems today easily. These last ones confused him, and me, so I told him just to draw out a calendar and do it that way. I'm sure there is a way to do it mathematically, but I was lost on how to do it on a 3rd grade level.

The steps they expect the kids to do are
SEE: What do you need to find?
PLAN: What you need to do?
DO: Follow the plan?
CHECK: Does your answer make sense?

I don't have teacher manual for the book, but for the most part I don't need it! It's just these word problems above really stumped me today! So how would a 3rd grader solve these problems without making a calendar?


  1. It seems to me they are wanting the child to not necessarily calculate but to imagine a bit here...what if the month started on a Monday, like June does? Then Thanksgiving would fall on the 25th, if the month started on a Wednesday, like July does this year, you can see that the holiday would fall on the 23rd. I would just have her flip through the calendar and figure it out for each month starting on a different day. That is the approach I would take with it if it were my dd's math problem. Hope I've helped! :)

  2. Just wanted to say thanks Shawntele for your input :)

  3. That is a tricky one - I would get out the calendar and then figure out a pattern from that. The great thing about word problems is they make you think creatively about a problem. I've collected a bunch of very good websites that offer free word problems for 3rd graders so my kid can work on them over the summer. I put them in an online binder so that my daughter can open the binder online and print out the worksheets without getting distracted by other websites. Feel free to use:

  4. Tina- Thank-you for sharing your binder with me and my readers! I took a look at it and I must say that's pretty cool on how you have the sites index together like that. That's the first time I've seen something like that.


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