Mathematics in Year 3

During the years of lower Key Stage 2 (Year 3 and Year 4), the focus of mathematics is on the mastery of the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) so that children can carry out calculations mentally, and using written methods. In Year 3 your child is likely to be introduced to the standard written column methods of addition and subtraction.

Number and Place Value

  • Count in multiples of 4, 8, 50 and 100
  • Recognise the place value of digits in three-digit numbers (using 100, 10s and 1s)
  • Read and write numbers up to 1,000 using digits and words
  • Compare and order numbers up to 1,000


  • Add and subtract numbers mentally, including adding either 1s, 10s or units to a 3-digit number
  • Use the standard column method for addition and subtraction for up to three digits
  • Estimate the answers to calculations, and use inverse calculations to check the answers
  • Learn the 3x, 4x and 8x tables and the related division facts, for example knowing that 56 ÷ 8 = 7
  • Begin to solve multiplication and division problems with two-digit numbers


Equivalent fractions are fractions which have the same value, such as 1/2 and 3/6 or 1/4 and 2/8
  • Understand and use tenths, including counting in tenths
  • Recognise and show equivalent fractions with small denominators
  • Add and subtract simple fractions worth less than one, for example 6
  • Put a sequence of simple fractions into size order


  • Solve simple problems involving adding and subtracting measurements such as length and weight
  • Measure the perimeter of simple shapes
  • Add and subtract amounts of money, including giving change
  • Tell the time to the nearest minute using an analogue clock
  • Use vocabulary about time, including a.m. and p.m., hours, minutes and seconds
  • Know the number of seconds in a minute and the number of days in a year or leap year

Shape and Position

  • Draw familiar 2-d shapes and make familiar 3-d shape models
  • Recognise right angles, and know that these are a quarter turn, with four making a whole turn
  • Identify whether an angle is greater than, less than or equal to a right angle
  • Identify horizontal, vertical, perpendicular and parallel lines
Parallel lines are those which run alongside each other and never meet. Perpendicular lines cross over each other meeting exactly at right angles.

Graphs and Data

  • Present and understand data in bar charts, tables and pictograms
  • Answer questions about bar charts that compare two pieces of information

Parent Tip

Most schools will have a calculation policy which sets out the order in which calculation strategies are taught. Check on your child’s school’s website to see if they have one for parents that shows what methods are used in school and when they are usually introduced.

English in Year 3 and Year 4

In lower Key Stage 2, your child will build on their work from the infants to become more independent in both their reading and their writing. Most children will be confident at decoding most words – or will have extra support to help them to do so – and so now they will be able to use their reading to support their learning about other subjects.

They will begin to meet a wider range of writing contexts, including both fiction and non-fiction styles and genres.

Speaking and Listening

The Spoken Language objectives are set out for the whole of primary school, and teachers will cover many of them every year as children’s spoken language skills develop. In Years 3 and 4, some focuses may include:

  • Use discussion and conversation to explore and speculate about new ideas
  • Begin to recognise the need to use Standard English in some contexts
  • Participation in performances, plays and debates
  • Explain thinking and feeling in well-structured statements and responses

Reading skills

  • Extend skills of decoding to tackle more complex words, including with unusual spelling patterns
  • Read a wide range of fiction, non-fiction and literary books
  • Recognise some different forms of poetry
  • Use dictionaries to find the meanings of words
  • Become familiar with a range of traditional and fairy tales, including telling some orally
  • Identify words which have been chosen to interest the reader
  • Ask questions about what they have read
  • Draw simple inferences about events in a story, such as how a character might be feeling
  • Make predictions about what might happen next in a story
  • Summarise ideas from several paragraphs of writing
  • Find and record information from non-fiction texts
  • Take part in discussions about reading and books
Children begin to identify how authors choose words for effect, for example by selecting ‘wailed’ instead of ‘cried’, or ‘enraged’ rather than ‘cross’. They may begin to make such choices in their own writing, too.

Writing skills

  • Write with joined handwriting, making appropriate join choices
  • Spell words that include prefixes and suffixes, such as anticlockwise
  • Spell some commonly misspelt words correctly, taken from the Y3/4 list
  • Use a dictionary to check spellings
  • Use possessive apostrophes correctly in regular and irregular plurals, such as children’s and boys’
  • Use examples of writing to help them to structure their own similar texts
  • Plan out sentences orally to select adventurous vocabulary
  • Use paragraphs to organise ideas
  • Use description and detail to develop characters and settings in story-writing
  • Write interesting narratives in stories
  • In non-fiction writing, use features such as sub-headings and bullet points
  • Review their own work to make improvements, including editing for spelling errors
  • Read others’ writing and suggest possible improvements
  • Read aloud work that they’ve written to be clearly understood
  • Extend sentences using a wider range of conjunctions, including subordinating conjunctions
  • Use the present perfect verb tense
  • Use nouns and pronouns with care to avoid repetition
  • Use conjunctions, adverbs and prepositions to add detail about time or cause
  • Use fronted adverbials
  • Use direct speech, with correct punctuation
Young children have a tendency to repeat nouns or pronouns, leading to several sentences containing ‘He’ or ‘They’. They can use alternatives to make writing more interesting. For example, alternatives for describing an individual character might include: he, the burglar, Mr Smith, John, the criminal, the villain, etc.
To add information to a sentence about its location, children might use conjunctions (“Although it was still early...”), adverbs (“Early that morning...”) or prepositions (“At about six-thirty that morning...”). Often these techniques allow children to write more complex sentences.

Grammar Help

For many parents, the grammatical terminology used in schools may not be familiar. Here are some useful reminders of some of the terms used:

  • Present perfect tense: a tense formed using the verb ‘have’ and a participle, to indicate that an action has been completed at an unspecified time, e.g. The girl has eaten her ice-cream
  • Fronted adverbial: a word or phrase which describes the time, place or manner of an action, which is placed at the start of the sentence, e.g. “Before breakfast,...” or “Carrying a heavy bag,...”
  • Direct speech: words quoted directly using inverted commas, as opposed to being reported in a sentence

Parent Tip

When children are writing outside of school – or when you are looking at school work with them – why not discuss their choices of vocabulary? Some common words, such as ‘went’ and ‘said’ can often be replaced by more specific words that give a sense of the action, such as ‘raced’ or ‘yelled’. You can also take opportunities to look at words like this that crop up in books you read with your child, considering how the choice of word affects your understanding of a story.

Science in Year 3

During Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6), the strands of science begin to become more recognisable as biology, chemistry and physics, although they will usually be grouped together in primary school. Children will continue to carry out their own experiments to find out about the world around them, and to test their own hypotheses about how things work.

Scientific Investigation

Investigation work should form part of the broader science curriculum. During Year 3, some of the skills your child might focus on include:

  • Set up simple comparative tests, ensuring that they are carried out fairly
  • Make systematic observations, using appropriate equipment and standard units
  • Gather and record information to help to answer scientific questions
  • Use results to draw simple conclusions or to raise further questions
  • Use straightforward scientific evidence to answer questions


  • Identify the basic functions of a plant’s roots, stem/trunk, leaves and flowers
  • Understand that plants need air, light, water, nutrients and room to grow
  • Understand the role of flowers in the life cycle, including pollination and seed dispersal
Pollination is the act of reproduction in which pollen is transferred – usually to another plant – to make seeds. Seed dispersal is the distribution of seeds by actions such as sprinkling, through the wind, or by being eaten as part of a fruit.

Animals including Humans

  • Know that animals get their nutrition from food, and need the right types and amounts of nutrition
  • Identify that humans and some other animals have skeletons and muscles, and know their basic functions


  • Compare and group different types of rocks based on their appearance and properties
  • Describe how fossils are formed
  • Recognise that soils are made from rocks and organic material
At this level, rocks are often grouped into one of three categories: Igneous: rocks formed from magma under the Earth’s surface, often after a volcano, or deep underground.

Metamorphic: rocks formed under great heat or pressure under the Earth’s surface, such as slate or marble.

Sedimentary: rocks formed where sediment builds up in deposits under lakes or oceans.


  • Recognise that we need light to see things
  • Notice that light is reflected from surfaces
  • Know how shadows are formed, and identify how the size of a shadow changes

Forces and Magnets

  • Notice that some forces need contact to act, but that magnetic forces can act at a distance
  • Observe how magnets attract or repel each other, describing magnets as having two poles
  • Compare and group objects according to whether or not they are magnetic

Parent Tip

Many families will have a magnet of some form about the house, and this makes a great tool for scientific investigation. A fun experiment is to compare whether household objects are attracted to magnets, such as keys, tins, cans, and even different denominations of coin.

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