Place a selection of board games in the center with sets of flashcards. Students play by the standard rules, except that they must correctly answer the problem on the flashcard before taking a turn. You can also copy word problems onto cards or print state assessment practice problems onto cardstock in place of the flashcards.
Regular playing cards become a learning tool when students play Operations War with them and with a spinner marked with the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division signs on it. All cards are dealt evenly to the players. Each player turns up the top card from his or her stack, spins the spinner and completes the operation indicated with the numbers on the two cards; face cards count as 10 each. For example, if the two cards displayed are 4 and 7 and the player spins “+," he will add 4 + 7. If the other player spins “x," she multiplies 4 x 7. The player whose calculations yield the highest number keeps both cards, with the object being to “capture" all the cards. A tie in calculations results in each player placing three cards face down and one more face up. Players repeat the play process and the person with the highest number keeps all 10 cards: the two original ones, the six unrevealed cards and the final two used to calculate.
Let students race to reach 100 (or another targeted number) by rolling two dice and adding or subtracting to keep a running total. The first person to reach exactly 100 is the winner. Practice multiplication and division by raising the target number.
With these math center activities for third grade, your students will jump into learning and practice without even noticing that it's all about math!