Math is so important. As an engineer, I understand exactly how much can be accomplished with a solid understanding of math. However, I’m personally not a fan of the way math is taught in elementary school. All the repetition seems unnecessary and often kills a child’s love of math. I want my kids to have an open mind when it comes to solving math problems. I want them to see a difficult problem as fun challenge rather than drudgery. For that reason, I created my own math curriculum for my kids which covers all the same concepts as traditional curricula, but eliminates all the repetition.
First, I took notes on several different purchased curricula, such as Saxon Math, Singapore, Mammoth Math, and Kumon. I made sure to note the range in difficulty of the problems for each area covered. Then I used my notes and my own math knowledge to create a single 10 problem math worksheet for each of the 36 weeks of school. Each worksheet covers a problem from each of ten subject areas. For my third grade minimalist math curriculum, those areas are:
- Understanding Numbers
- Word Problems
- Patterns and Sequences
- Graphs, Charts, and Tables
- Telling Time
- Units and Measurement
For more details on how I created these worksheets, see my post on my “minimalist math” curriculum methodology. It is my belief that if a child has mastered these 360 problems during the school year, then they do not need the repetition of thousands of problems found in a traditional curricula. So far, all of my children are testing at or above grade level. (Though it should be noted, that I do not approve of tests for kids this age. Since we were allowed to opt out of testing due to the pandemic, I did not make them test this past spring.)
It should also be noted that since children are not given a lot of repetition of similar problems, it is to be expected that they will need help completing these sheets. My original plan was to make note of which problems my kids struggled with and revisit them later. So far I have not succeeded in doing this. Math repeats enough from year to year that even with this minimalist approach, kids will eventually fully grasp concepts.
I would also like to point out that a basic weakness of this approach is that it does not lead to memorization of math facts. If you want your kids to be fast with basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, you will need to supplement. This could be with some basic worksheets, like my free printable multiplication practice sheets. You could also check out Kate Snow’s Math Facts that Stick series. I am also a fan of games, such as Clumsy Thief or Prime Climb, to get kids eagerly practicing math calculations.
Recommended Age Range: Third Grade
Time Required: about 20 minutes per week
Difficulty: starts off fairly easy and gets harder as weeks progress
Cost: Free printable
Print out the curriculum and help your child complete one worksheet each week for each of the 36 weeks of school.
Minimalist Math – Third Grade Curriculum
Minimalist Math – Third Grade Curriculum – Answer Key
Click here for all the Minimalist Math curricula available for different grade levels.
Math Activities for Kids
Minimalist Math Curriculum Methodology
Learning Activities for Kids
Thank you so much for these! We do math using Life of Fred, and we love it, but I’m using your minimalist math sheets this summer as revision for our second- and third-grade work. My daughter loves math, and she loves your sheets too.
Awesome! That makes me so happy to hear, Helene! Thank you for sharing. :)
These are wonderful, thank you so much for sharing them! I can only imagine how much of your time went into creating them. From another post, it sounds like you’ve continued with this method. By chance, do you have a set available for the 4th grade level? Thank you!
Yes, I do! I’m hoping to get 4th grade posted this weekend. I’m so glad they are helpful! :)
Yay! That’s amazing news, thank you!! I’m homeschooling my 2nd and 4th grade daughters this year. We did the first sheets for grades 2 and 3 today and they were super helpful to see where their understanding is strong, and where they clearly need more support. Thank you again for sharing these!!
Hi Brooke! I just posted my fourth grade curriculum: https://researchparent.com/fourth-grade-minimalist-math-curriculum/ Enjoy! :)
Yay!!! Thank you, Michelle!
These really are amazing. Thank you! Will you continue with 5th grade?
Yes! I have 5th and 6th grade created for my kids, but I do not have solution keys made yet, so it will be awhile before I share them on my blog. If you would like the actual problems though, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the file!
Math is not easy, but we can learn by practicing more in order to let it become a natural skill. What I mean is to train yourself in order to handle higher level math. My strategy is to do more math worksheets in free time, and go over the problem with the answer to improve myself. I usually get the free math worksheets via Beestar. It gives you different levels of math worksheets, which I can always challenge myself.
Hi Javis! I agree that it is valuable to practice math in order to improve our fluency, comfort, and speed. What I love about what you wrote is that you are clearly self-motivated and trying to improve your own abilities. Personally, my issue is with forcing my own children to practice repetitive math skills using rote methods when they are reluctant or resistant. I just don’t think that is time well spent. At these young ages, I would rather they stay open to and curious about mathematical concepts and reasoning. If that means less time spent doing worksheets, then I am okay with that. On the other hand, if any of my kiddos are one day motivated to practice math in their free time as you do, then I would 100% support that endeavor!
This is an amazing resource!! I can’t believe it’s free! Thank you!
You are so welcome! I’m in process of going through and cleaning up a few typos (mostly in the answer keys). I’m hoping to have them in a little better shape in the next couple weeks!