Third Grade Problem-Solving Activities and Exercises

It's important for kids to learn problem-solving skills because they'll use them in various school subjects, as well as in life in general. Keep reading for sample activities and exercises that you and your child can do at home to improve his or her problem-solving skills.

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What Types of Activities Promote Third Grade Problem-Solving Skills?

Giving your child genuine problems to solve can help him or her to see how schoolwork applies to real life. For example, if you're planning a party, you might have your child use his newly developed skills in multiplication and division to figure out the logistics, such as how many tables and chairs will be needed, based on the number of anticipated guests.

Your child also can apply his or her third-grade math skills during everyday events, like visiting the grocery store. While shopping, you can have your child calculate the price of the items you're purchasing to determine if you're staying within a budget. For instance, would it bust your $18 budget if you bought five boxes of cereal that were priced at $4 a box? Your child could practice his or her multiplication skills by determining that $4 x 5 = $20 and then his or her problem-solving skills by noting that this would, indeed, put you over budget.

Additionally, you might challenge your child to complete fun experiments. For example, you could work with your child to design a container that will protect an egg that's dropping from the top of your house. Your child will have to use creative thinking in order to create a safe container.

Problem-Solving Exercises and Solutions

1. A room has an area of 400 feet. What are some possible dimensions for this room?

This exercise requires problem-solving skills because it's open-ended. Third graders learn to calculate the area of a rectangle using the formula area (a) = length (l) x width (w). Two possible dimensions are 20 feet by 20 feet or 40 feet by 10 feet.

2. Ken has to be at work by 8:30 am. His office is 30 minutes away, and he wants to stop for coffee, which typically takes 10 minutes. What time should Ken leave his house in the morning?

Third graders can further their understanding of telling time by approximating periods of time. For this problem, your child should first calculate how long it will take Ken to drive to work and pick up coffee (30 + 10 = 40). Then, your child can work backwards from when Ken has to be at work. Forty minutes before 8:30 is 7:50 a.m.

3. There are too many guests at Karla's party. There are 44 people present, but Karla only has 22 pieces of cake. How can Karla give each of her guests a piece of cake?

There are exactly two times more guests than slices of cake. One solution would be to cut each slice of cake in half, which would double the number of cake slices (22 x 2 = 44).
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