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Curriculum » Third Grade

Third Grade

Third Grade Curriculum Overview
Language Arts
Third grade students consolidate their K-2 reading and writing skills and take a giant step toward becoming independent learners. They learn about how to get themselves organized and focused on the task at hand by learning study tools and personal tools for success. They learn to identify personal issues and to focus on methods for improvement. They begin to think more creatively and produce writing that is "juicier!"
Third Grade students focus on a variety of reading, writing, listening, and speaking opportunities. They continue to learn the writing process of pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and creating a final draft, and on writing clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs. They use topic and supporting sentences to develop a central theme, as they consider their audience and purpose. A variety of writing projects are explored at this level: book reports, personal narratives, letter writing, explanations and instructions, research reports, opinions and persuasions, poetry, journal writing, and creative writing.
Sentence structure, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and grammar are stressed in quizzes and writings. Spelling and vocabulary are expanded through word studies and vocabulary-building exercises as well as exploring contextual vocabulary in their weekly stories in the Scott Foresman Reading Street series. Students expand their understanding of grammar through use of the Daily Grammar Practice series.
In Third Grade, students explore a variety of literary genres, such as well-known children’s stories from around the world, myths and mythical characters in Norse mythology, biographies of famous people, poetry through the Open Court series, and other literature. Comprehension and thoughtful consideration of the literature’s meaning are stressed. Students continue to learn to distinguish between the structural features of the text and the literary elements of plot, setting, characters, and theme.
Students also continue to learn speech techniques and to do formal recitations and presentations.

Third Grade math emphasizes the representational nature of numbers, rather than numbers as numbers. To do this, students work with manipulatives to problem solve. This includes the use of place value disks and base-ten blocks. By using concrete objects, the tactile is engaged and students can ‘grasp’ problems more easily, especially word problems and algebraic problems. The use of manipulatives and games also aids in memorization of multiplication facts and conceptualizing long division and knowing when to deploy those different operations.


By taking numbers out of the abstract and into the concrete, math becomes more accessible for a broader spectrum of learners. The concrete approach to problem solving leads seamlessly into the study of units and unit conversion (including weight, volume, perimeter, area) as well as fractions. This approach to learning math lends itself to the many games, activities, small group work, and learning stations that are deployed in Third Grade math. That abundance of activities leaves students excited about math, which is an ideal environment for maximizing learning and retention.


Solving word problems and group problem solving continue to be emphasized through a study of Singapore Math techniques and challenging word problems.

Life science concepts covered in Third Grade, some of which deepen themes viewed in Second Grade, include the classification of animals through structural and behavioral characteristics, ecosystems and biomes, conservation, adaptations, and various human body systems. Earth Science concepts include the properties of soil, rocks, and minerals, the changes in landforms through volcanoes and earthquakes, and astronomy. Physical science concepts include the physical properties of matter, magnetism, electricity, light, sound, and optics. Hands-on experiments, reading literature, and videos are a regular part of the curriculum.

Each year the students do an individual science project for the annual Science Fair, helping them to learn the important concepts of observation, prediction, conducting an experiment, recording data, analyzing results, creating a display, and presenting the material to others.
Social Studies
Third graders study California History once a week, including the Native American history, pioneer life, the missions, the Gold Rush, railroad development and its effect on the state, the various regions and peoples of California, the important geographical features of the state, and the impact California has had on historical events. They take field trips to intensify their appreciation of our state. Examples of field trip extensions include Mission Dolores and a trip to Sacramento's old school house, railroad museum, and Sutter's Fort. As part of their Language Arts studies, students will read several historical novels reflecting California history in order to deepen their understanding of our state.
Third Grade dive deep into the history of immigration and how the Native Americans and their culture was impacted by westward expansion.
Third Graders also learn about Canada, Scandinavia, and the early civilization of the Vikings in an effort to better understand the whole world and its history. After studying the people, climate, history, animals, geography, and cultures, students will create a dramatic presentation for the International Fair in June.

Students in Third Grade expand the basic vocabulary they have already learned in Kindergarten through Second Grades and embark upon the first half of a first year high school text. They learn about questions, adjectives, professions, time, commands, forms of the verb to be, and the present tense conjugation of -ar verbs. Students have Spanish three times a week.
Students in Third Grade learn to observe how artists use light and shadow and two- and three-dimensional shapes in their art. They continue to discuss different kinds of pictures, sculpture, and architecture and study American Indian art in conjunction with their Social Studies topics. They continue to explore their abilities with hands-on projects in different fields of art, including pottery, weaving, and sculpture. Students have art class once a week.
Third Graders begin playing the recorder! They expand their understanding of music elements as they learn 4/4 time, eighth notes, bass clef, major/minor, and ABA form. They also learn to recognize and describe wood instruments and study Britten, Gershwin, Handel, and Bach. Students enhance their performance skills through participation in the Winter Fest and Spring Showcase. Students have music once a week. 
Physical Education
The Physical Education curriculum for Third Grade increases students' basic knowledge and skills in through individual skill development and sportsmanship through team work. They gain precision with increasing control and accuracy. Students have Physical Education two times a week.
Students continue to explore word processing and computerized slide-show presentations in conjunction with writing projects on their chromebooks. They use the computer to provide more depth in a fun way to their studies in Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies and explore various educational software for practice and enrichment. Students will learn how to create a presentation and advance their typing skills. Additionally, they will advance their comfort with using Google Classroom and coding.

Character Education
Third Grade students enjoy a weekly ethics class. They complete an in-depth study of Hilldale's monthly virtues, quotes, and villains. Additionally, they delve into Third Grade heroes. Students also explore  organization, study skills, positivity, and making the most out of one's circumstances. Students practice their Hilldale Habits of Respect, Leadership, and Independent, Lifelong Learning on a daily basis. All students participate in Service Learning projects which help students understand their relationship and responsibility to the world at a young age. Students participate in the Peace First curriculum designed to teach hands-on, social-emotional skills and nurture friendships. This year the focus is on communication and cooperation, including the use of "I" statements.
updated 08/19