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8 Math Projects Your Third Graders Will Love

If you want to incorporate a project based learning component to one of your 3rd grade math units this year, but you’re having trouble deciding on a project, you’ve come to the right place! All eight of these math projects are designed with third graders (and their busy teachers) in mind.

Each of the resources listed below makes prepping for project based learning a breeze and makes implementation seamless. These projects are presented in guides that feature detailed visual instructions on each page, making it possible for students to complete their unique projects with maximum independence. 

Core Inspiration math project based learning guide with detailed visual instructions.

You know what that means…you’ll have the time you need to teach or reteach essential math skills to small groups or provide scaffolding to students who need it most while your students are engaged in meaningful work that helps them dig deeper and apply the skills they’re learning in math!

Click the project that aligns with your next unit and get started with easy and engaging project based learning in your classroom!


Quadrilateral City

During this project based learning unit, your students will be invited to create a new layout for Quadrilateral City’s town square. Quadrilateral City is a place where everything from buildings and roads to houses and parks is built using only quadrilaterals.

The citizens recently passed a bond to fund the renovation of their town square and your students can work to be hired as the lead architect for the redesign project! The most important detail: students must include at least one of each quadrilateral type in the design for the center of their town.

This project based learning unit requires the application of students’ knowledge of the properties of quadrilaterals and goes beyond simple recall and recognition of quadrilaterals.

Throughout the process of the Quadrilateral City simulation, students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge through creative design as they plan their town square, descriptive writing that incorporates their math knowledge, and communication skills as they present their design at the town hall meeting. 

Core Inspiration's Quadrilateral City geometry math project overview showing a town square map, town square guidebook page and the project rubric.

The main focus of this cross-curricular project is on third grade geometry standards. Throughout the project, students will practice recognizing and drawing quadrilaterals according to their specified attributes, such as a given number of angles or a given number of sides.

In addition to these important math skills, students will also practice their descriptive writing as they feature each quadrilateral-shaped building or space in their Guide to Town Square.

Students will use their persuasive writing skills to convince the townspeople of Quadrilateral City to select their design and use their public speaking skills to present their design at the optional town hall meeting that culminates this project. 


Place Value In The Wild

During this project based learning (PBL) unit, your students will work toward becoming an expedition scouts for Wildlife Explorers International. As part of their job application process, they must create an expedition field guide filled with information about animals from the habitat of their choice.

This math project based learning unit requires the application of students’ knowledge of place value. Throughout the process of the Place Value In The Wild simulation, students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge through creative design, engage in informational research that incorporates their math knowledge, and build organization skills as they plan and execute this multi-day project.

Core Inspiration's Place Value in the Wild math project overview showing an animal profile page filled with information about the size of the animal in different number forms and research facts about the animal.

The main focus of this math simulation is on second and third grade place value standards. Throughout the project, students will:

  • Understand that the digits of a number represent amounts like hundreds, tens, and ones.
  • Read and write numbers using base-ten numerals, number names, and expanded form.
  • Compare two numbers based on the meanings of the hundreds, tens, and ones digits.
  • Use place value understanding to round whole numbers to any place.

In addition to these important math skills, students will also practice their expository writing & research skills as they report on amazing facts about the eight animals they choose to feature in their Place Value in the Wild Field Guide

Students will then use their public speaking skills to present their final research either in-person or through a video recording that culminates this project. 


Winter Wonderland Array Architects

During this winter-themed math project, your third grade students will work toward becoming an Array Architect for Snowflake Valley. The snowpeople in the valley are getting ready to host their annual Winter Wonderland Festival. 

This year, they want to redesign the layout of the festival so all the decorations and attractions are arranged in arrays and equal groups. 

As part of their job application process, students must create a Winter Wonderland Festival map that includes a variety of arrays and equal groups, along with a festival directory that features all the equations and problem solving that corresponds with their unique design. 

This project based learning unit requires the application of students’ knowledge of equal groups, arrays, multiplication and division fact families, and properties of multiplication. Throughout the process of the Winter Wonderland Array Architects simulation, students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge through creative design, engage in rigorous problem solving incorporating their math knowledge, and build organization skills as they plan and execute this multi-day project.

The main focus of this math simulation is on third grade multiplication & division standards. Throughout the project, students will:

  • Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division.
  • Apply properties of operations as strategies to multiply and divide, including Commutative, Distributive, and Associative properties.
  • Determine the unknown whole number in a multiplication or division equation relating three whole numbers. 
  • Use multiplication and division within 100 to solve word problems.
  • Interpret products & quotients of whole numbers. 

The Time of Your Life

During this math project, your students will compete in a contest to be the next star of a new hit show, The Time Of Your Life. Each contestant must brainstorm activities they would love to do if they were able to have the birthday of their dreams. 

Students will take their ten favorite brainstormed activities and create a day-long birthday schedule with no time gaps. They will elaborate on this schedule by creating a narrative storyboard that tells the story of the birthday of their dreams using a narrative introduction, transitions, show-not-tell descriptive details, and a narrative conclusion. The lucky winner will get to star in their very own episode of The Time Of Your Life, and participate in every activity planned on his/her birthday schedule!

This project based learning unit requires the application of students’ knowledge of telling time and elapsed time. Throughout the process of the Time of Your Life simulation, students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge through creative design and practice narrative writing that incorporates their math knowledge.

Core Inspiration's Time of Your Life telling time math project page showing a narrative description of an activity, the time the activity starts and ends shown on analog clocks, and the duration of the activity.

The main focus of this math project is on second or third grade telling time standards. Throughout the project, students will:

  • Tell and write time from analog and digital clocks to the nearest five minutes, using a.m. and p.m. (for second graders).
  • Tell and write time to the nearest minute and measure time intervals in minutes (for third graders).

In addition to these important math skills, students will also practice their narrative writing as they tell the story of their special birthday plans in narrative format. This is the perfect opportunity for students to practice using narrative transitions that show the passing of time. 


Measure-Thon

During the Measure-Thon math simulation, your students (better known as Mathletes) will compete in four measuring events. They will test their physical strength as they blow, kick, flick and toss a small puff ball through the air. Then they will flex their mental power as they measure the distance their puff ball travels using centimeters, inches, and feet. 

Their measurements will be used to solve word problems that require them to compare length measurements, calculate the difference between length measurements, calculate the total distance their puff traveled during the entire competition, and make estimations about how far their puff would travel if the rules for the competition were revised in a specific way.

This math simulation requires the application of students’ knowledge of length measurement using rulers. Throughout the process of the Measure-Thon simulation, students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge through an interactive math event.

The main focus of this math simulation is on second grade measurement standards. Throughout the project, students will:

  • Generate measurement data by measuring lengths of several objects to the nearest whole unit, or by making repeated measurements of the same object. 
  • Use addition and subtraction within 100 to solve word problems involving lengths that are given in the same units.
  • Measure using inches and centimeters to determine how much farther one object traveled than another, expressing the length difference in terms of inches and centimeters.
  • Estimate lengths using units of inches and centimeters. 
  • Use a bar graph (with a single-unit scale) to represent a data set.

Camp Array Architect

During this math project, your third grade students will work toward becoming an Array Architect for Camp Array. This campground has been closed since 1975, but the owners are ready to reopen the gates to their beautiful mountain campground. 

Before they open, the owners want to redesign the campground so it has a fresh look and feel, and they’re looking for a special architect to get the job done. The most important detail: they want everything on the campground to be arranged in arrays and in equal groups!

As part of their job application process, students must create a campground map that includes a variety of arrays and equal groups, along with a campground directory that features all the equations and problem solving that corresponds with their unique design. 

This project based learning unit requires the application of students’ knowledge of equal groups, arrays, multiplication and division fact families, and properties of multiplication. Throughout the process of the Camp Array simulation, students will have the opportunity to apply their knowledge through creative design, engage in rigorous problem solving incorporating their math knowledge, and build organization skills as they plan and execute this multi-day project.

Core Inspiration's Camp Array Architect multiplication math project showing a repeated addition setence, multiplication sentence, fact fmaily, and

The main focus of this math simulation is on third grade multiplication & division standards. Throughout the project, students will:

  • Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division.
  • Apply properties of operations as strategies to multiply and divide, including Commutative, Distributive, and Associative properties.
  • Determine the unknown whole number in a multiplication or division equation relating three whole numbers. 
  • Use multiplication and division within 100 to solve word problems.
  • Interpret products & quotients of whole numbers. 

Val’s Heart Factory

This simulation introduces your students to four methods for displaying data: frequency tables, bar graphs, pictographs, and line plots. Students will have the opportunity to record observations about each method for displaying data and compare/contrast methods for collecting data.

They will use this knowledge to solve a problem for Val’s Heart Factory. The factory is having some trouble with their production line…the number of hearts being added to each of their boxes/bags of hearts is unequal. Your students will work through a series of increasingly-challenging data-focused steps to help the factory solve their problem.

Core Inspiration's Heart Factory data & graphing math project showing student observations about bar graphs and a word problem related to data shown on a bar graph.

The focus of this math project based learning unit is on third grade data and graphing standards. During the project, students will draw a scaled picture graph, a scaled bar graph, a pictograph, and create a frequency table to represent a data set with several categories. 

Students solve one-step and two-step “how many more” and “how many less” data problems using information presented in the graphs they create. In addition, students will solve put-together, take-apart, and compare problems using information presented in their graphs. 


Fraction Flower Festival

During this project based learning unit, your students will “grow” a flower using fractions as their guide. Their flower will be entered in a contest and judges will provide them with feedback on their gardening skills using a scoring rubric. 

Throughout the simulation, students will use two important skills: 

  • The creativity of a caring gardener as they “grow” their flower during the fraction art project portion of the simulation. 
  • The accuracy of a careful gardener as they model fractions on a number line and make calculations while solving fraction word problems during the math-focused portion of the simulation. 
Core Inspiration's Fraction Flower Festival math project overview shot showing fractions on a number line and a word problem related to the fractions displayed.

The main focus of this math simulation is on third grade fraction standards. Throughout the project, students will:

  • Understand a fraction is a quantity formed by 1 part when a whole is partitioned into equal parts.
  • Represent a fraction on a number line diagram and understand a fraction as a number on the number line.
  • Recognize and generate simple equivalent fractions and create equivalent fraction models on a number line.
  • Express whole numbers as fractions, and recognize fractions that are equivalent to whole numbers. 
  • Compare two fractions with the same numerator or the same denominator by reasoning about their size. 

Which of These Projects Will You Bring To Your Classroom?

Your students are going to love the opportunity to apply their learning in creative ways using these math projects. I’d love to hear from you if you plan on using any of the projects described above. If you’re looking for a specific project you don’t see listed here, let me know in the comments below.

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I’m Laura Santos

I’ve been an elementary teacher for ten years, and love sharing tips and resources that make differentiated learning more manageable for you. Thank you for visiting.

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