The reason why using hands-on place value strategies is still important in 3rd-grade addition is pretty simple really – it’s concrete. Many students in 3rd grade are not proficient in addition, even though they have been working on it since Kindergarten.
Have you ever watched a third-grader count on their fingers?
What happens when you give them base ten blocks to use?
3rd-grade students still need concrete ways to add numbers. Sometimes we adults make assumptions about math mastery that are incorrect.
You know what they say about assuming? #don’tdoit
Anyway, we assume that because they are now in 3rd grade, they should be able to do simple addition. Some of our students can, but many still cannot.
There is nothing wrong with that. It’s developmental.
The addition standard for 3rd-grade students is:
Place Value Mats
One of my favorite ways for students to practice addition of 2 and 3 digit numbers is with place value strategies. Using large chart paper and markers, students draw a place value mat. I let them do this on the floor – where they can spread out and work.
Depending on their needs, they can use base ten blocks or draw them. This is an easy way to differentiate your instruction/practice for students.
This is such a visual, concrete way for students to add 2 and 3 digit numbers with and without regrouping. You can “see” the light bulbs going off in their heads as they “get” how the addition of 2 & 3 digit numbers works. This is the part we teachers live for, right?
This is the reason why using hands-on place value strategies is still important in 3rd grade!
Upping the Rigor
Once my students are comfortable with this strategy, I like to introduce error analysis. This gives my proficient learners a more challenging way to practice. They love to find the errors!
Again, we might assume that our less-proficient learners would not be ready for or want to do error analysis – but this is not true.
Sometimes, looking for errors creates that “aha” moment for them.
When it does, the confidence of that student goes off the charts!
This fun and challenging resource gives students the chance to use math models including the one shown here, to find the errors in 2 and 3 digit addition with and without regrouping.
The part I really love is the written explanation of how they found the error. It really ups the rigor of this activity and helps students conceptualize what they are doing.
This resource is the perfect activity for students to use for practice of 2 and 3 digit addition that challenges them and gives them the opportunity to use place value to solve equations. Use it in centers, partner work, and small groups for that rigorous practice your students will benefit from!
Grab this 2 & 3 Digit Addition Error Analysis task card set for back to school math activities!
I would love to hear how you use place value for math instruction! Please share!
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