Year 3

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We can explain how we solve problems.

Year 3 Unit 6

What we are learning:

  • Many children (and adults) are naturally ‘visual’ mathematicians. When they are asked to solve a problem they first need to visualise the problem. They may visualise the problem in their head or need to draw the problem out using simple pictures or a diagram. This should be encouraged.
  • A diagram is a line drawing created to demonstrate a mathematical idea.
  • We live in a world full of mathematical puzzles and problems, for instance, if I need to make sandwiches for 4 people how much bread will I need? And do I have enough? Children will generally respond better to real-life maths puzzles and problems than those presented as writing within a book.
  • There is often more than one right answer to a problem. Presenting your child with problems where there is more than one right answer will provide the opportunity for you to discuss why a particular solution has been chosen.

Activities you can do at home:

Put a selection of coins in a purse/ small bag and close it up without your child seeing what coins are in there. Tell your child the total amount of money in the bag. Provide your child with paper and pens and ask them
What coins do you think could be in the purse/bag? Encourage your child to draw their solution if this is their preference. Prompt your child to consider if there are other solutions by asking Do you think that this is
the only solution? What about if there was a 50p/£1/10p in the purse?
(choose a coin that the child has not so far included). Support your child to discover different solutions by providing more clues i.e. There are only 6 coins in the purse/ There are two 10ps in the purse. Once your child has found several solutions – base the time limit on confidence levels and stamina! – give them an opportunity to talk through their solutions. Check the purse together to find out what coins were really in there.
Work through a simple Sudoku puzzle (aimed at children) together.
Newspapers regularly feature such puzzles in their supplements. Say out loud what you are thinking as you solve the puzzle. Ask questions such as, What number is missing from this row/column? or Can I write a 5 in this square? Why not? so that you are including your child in the decision making process.

Good questions to ask:

What could the answer be?
Do you think this is the only answer?
Could there be any other answers that are right?

If your child:

Is having difficulty explaining their methods
Model the problem solving method by explaining how you would do it, then give your child a similar problem and let them have a go


Explaining and solving problems PDF

Extension Activity

Please use this activity when you think your child understands the unit of work. It will deepen and extend your child’s understanding of this unit.


Extension activity (PDF)