In Third grade, the focus starts to shift to reading and writing French. Children learn to introduce themselves, and design a small poster displaying name, age, birthday, place of residence, likes and dislikes. Questions and answers on this topic are practiced and learned. Third graders study the parts of the day and learn to say the time. The students design analog clocks to practice in class. Two texts are used to support this topic: La journée de Miko and Une Journée avec Émilie et Thomas. The children, modelling these, write a sequence of their own day. Through this exercise, singular personal pronouns are differentiated and recognized.
The primary focus of the third grade year is learning to hand craft items that relate to a variety of folk crafts, particularly from the periods that they are investigating in social studies. The year begins with Aesop’s fable, The King of Birds – a story that celebrates the uniqueness of the individual. Each child creates a puppet that represents the bird of their choice (New Jersey natives) from the story. They learn to use a paper pattern, piece together a project, sew, and trim the puppet. Even though each project starts with the same exact pattern, the students take cues from the story to create strikingly individualized puppets. The hand work reflects the distinctive design decisions made by each child and so the puppets develop their own unique personality as the designer continues to work. The final event for this project is a Morning Gathering presentation of the puppet play.
Third grade is a time for discovering self-sufficiency in the shop by acquiring a range of ways to get information about the task at hand. Before asking the teacher for guidance, they learned to: check the posted list of steps, ask a friend, or evaluate their project and make use of what they know. The Bench Project, an outgrowth of their classroom study of Lewis and Clark’s exploration, gives the students an opportunity to test the waters of independence. The native peoples that the adventurers encountered in the Pacific Northwest are renowned for telling their legends in stark graphic representations carved from native cedar; think totem poles. The children read some authentic creation tales, which they represent in a bench crafted out of Eastern white pine and Western red cedar. The cross piece of the bench is meant to bear the likeness of an animal from their legend. In addition to building an understanding of the qualities of the different woods, the students learned to fine tune their construction skills. They practice mitering corners, assembling with screws, and shaping with a coping saw, which prepares them for more challenging projects in the fourth grade.
Third grade students become thoughtful readers, compelling writers, attentive listeners, and articulate speakers. Participation in reading workshop improves their comprehension skills, vocabulary, and recognition of both story elements and figurative language. Small group instruction provides further support for students as they assimilate new skills. In the group format of the writing workshop, students learn writing conventions, hone their sense of voice, and become well-rounded, successful writers. Students engage in peer and teacher conferences to further reinforce writing skills. Additionally, students receive a personalized spelling program tailored to their individual skill level.
In third grade, students learn to use parts of a book such as the table of contents, index, and glossary, as part of the search for information within reference materials such as encyclopedias and atlases. In addition, collaborative units of study focusing primarily on the social studies curriculum are a focus of third grade library instruction. Students participate in research activities using pathfinders that are designed to support these classroom units of study. The teaching of nonfiction narrative structure is addressed and students are given opportunities to practice related reading and comprehension skills to support their content work in the classroom. Read alouds move from picture books to a novel, offering students the opportunity to hear proper fluency and greater vocabulary.
Third grade uses the Singapore Math based program, Math in Focus. The program is designed to enhance problem-solving abilities through an approach that emphasizes skill and strategy development, conceptual understanding, and metacognition. Topics covered in third grade include place value, mental math and estimation, addition and subtraction up to 10,000, multiplication, division and basic long division, money, measurement (length, mass, and volume), bar graphs, line plots, and basic fractions. Additionally, third grade math is supplemented with engaging puzzles and practical math problems. Students utilize partner and small group support as well as independent and teacher lead work. Students use manipulatives and graphic representations of concepts to gain further understanding.
In third grade, students build on what they know of the pentatonic scale by adding low la and low so. They learn about major (do-centered) and minor (la-centered) pentatonic scales. In rhythm, students learn syncopated quarter and eighth note combinations. They learn to read, write, and identify these new elements in their folk songs and singing games. They sing rounds regularly to develop their intonation and musical independence. Students begin the study of two-part choral music, and they begin learning to read a multi-part vocal score. On the instruments, third graders continue to refine basic skills such as playing on the beat without rushing, and listening more closely both to their own part and to the whole ensemble as they incorporate more syncopated rhythms into their working knowledge. Students also focus on mallet technique, specifically playing with alternating hands whenever possible.
Third graders study soil, mystery powders, electricity, and the solar system. Students collect and analyze soil samples from multiple locations on campus. To understand what makes good soil, children learn how macro-invertebrates turn leaf litter, organic materials, and compost into nutrient rich soil. Worms are analyzed in great detail as their external and internal anatomy, digestion, and tunnel digging activities are studied. A pumpkin is used as a teaching tool. After the pumpkin is weighed and measured, its seeds are counted and it is placed in a pumpkin patch to rot. Data is taken weekly throughout the school year as children observe the various states of decomposition and learn for themselves the circular nature of the life cycle of the pumpkin. Five mystery powders are studied and identified as the children practice accurate measuring, proper handling of chemicals, experimental methodology, and detailed data recording and analysis. While learning about electricity, third graders study atoms, protons, electrons, static electricity, electric currents, electromagnetism, open and closed circuits, generators, and magnetic fields. They work with batteries, series and parallel circuits, circuit diagrams, and magnets. The solar system is studied through investigations that involve observation and approximation. Scale models are created to estimate size, demonstrate sequence, and deepen the students’ understanding of the organization of the solar system and the relationships among the various bodies that comprise it.
The third grade social studies curriculum focuses on the themes of movement and change, specifically in the formation of the United States. The students learn about explorers, the thirteen original colonies (with particular focus on Jamestown and Plymouth), Louis and Clark’s journey, and the role of westward expansion in the geographic development of our nation. They consider reasons for immigration and its effects on culture as they discover past and present motivations for relocation to the United States, the role of Ellis Island, and their individual family’s immigration history. Additionally, the students focus on map skills and learn to identify all fifty states and capitals with an understanding of how our nation became what it is today. Throughout the year, students role-play, create historical journals, and participate in field trips. They are immersed in historical novels, non-fiction texts, and primary sources. Social studies provides an opportunity for students to contribute meaningfully to class discussions and articulate their views and opinions. Third graders practice public speaking and learn to be engaged, respectful listeners.
The third graders work on a series of projects that pertain to the themes of design and abstraction. Students spent time working with concepts such as organic and geometric shape, complementary color, overlap, contrast, symbolism, story telling, space, and design by viewing, engaging, and discussing works of art from cultural and master artists such as Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, the artists of the Op Art Movement, Faith Ringgold and the Tlingit Native American artists. Projects include geometric and organic shape collages, leaf inspired abstract watercolor paintings, optical illusion designs, pastel spirit animals, and acrylic painted story quilts. Each project is designed to enhance students’ artistic skills, craftsmanship, and understanding of art room concepts, while encouraging each student to develop his or her unique artistic voice.
Grade three is a pivotal time in the development of students’ movement skills. In grade three, students begin to focus on combining locomotor and nonlocomotor skills into new movement sequences. Students who cannot perform the skills using the proper technique will need additional learning and practice opportunities to improve these foundational skills. Practice opportunities throughout the school year allow them time to develop the proper form for manipulative skills, such as rolling an object, throwing, catching, dribbling, kicking, and striking. By the end of grade three, students should have mastered the proper form for locomotor and nonlocomotor skills and learned to manipulate objects in a variety of ways.