Learning About the Past, Present, and Future

Third Grade

In third grade, children start putting the learning pieces together to take on more complicated assignments. This is the first year they begin to do some work independently rather than with the explicit directions given in earlier grade levels.

The third-grade curriculum focuses on learning about the past, present, and future. Literature, social studies and even science follow events over time, such as observing the phases of the moon or how rocks erode into sand. Third grade students use and build simple machines and become informed citizens through learning about our nation’s government. They use math in relevant ways, and are introduced to multiplication and division. Third grade is an exciting year because before third-grade, students learn to read – but beginning in third-grade, students read to learn!

Two students using calculators


Students read a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts which relate to all content areas and personal interests while developing strategic reading skills, such as word analysis and construction of meaning from text. Students continue to use comprehension strategies to compare and contrast story elements and differentiate between fiction and nonfiction. Teachers encourage the development of reading skills foundational to effective comprehension and critical thinking.


Students use the writing process to plan, draft, revise and edit writing in a variety of forms. Student writing becomes more complex, and students learn to select details to elaborate on the main idea of a paragraph. Teachers encourage the development of writing skills foundational to effective written communication and critical thinking.


Emphasis is on exploring multiplication and division concepts as well as basic addition and subtraction facts. Concrete materials and two-dimensional representations are used to introduce addition and subtraction with fractions and the concept of probability as chance. Students investigate polygons and identify relevant properties of points, line segments, rays, angles, vertices and lines.


There is an increased emphasis on conducting scientific investigations using scientific process skills and the engineering design process. Students focus on simple and compound machines, energy, matter, food chains, ecosystems and behavioral and physical adaptations of animals. Also, patterns in the natural world are explored and geological concepts are introduced through the investigation of the components of soil.

Social Studies 

Students focus on world cultures, including an introduction to the heritage and contributions of the peoples of ancient China, Egypt, Greece, Rome and the West African empire of Mali. Students should continue using artifacts and primary and secondary sources, developing map skills and demonstrating an understanding of basic economic and civics concepts. Students will examine the social, cultural and political characteristics of major ancient world cultures. Students will recognize that many aspects of ancient cultures served as the foundation for modern governments, customs, traditions and perspectives.


Visual Arts enable students to use their knowledge and skills to synthesize information, thus allowing them to produce and respond to works of art. Emphasis is on communication of personal values and beliefs in art appreciation and production. Students gain fluency in using and understanding the elements of art (color, form, line, shape, space, texture, value) and the principles of design (balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, proportion, rhythm, unity, variety) as they relate to artistic expression and communication.

Health & Physical Education 

Students develop proficiency in games, dances and educational gymnastics while demonstrating specialized skills alone, with a partner or in a small group. They access and use resources to improve personal fitness and continue to develop responsible personal and social behaviors as they work with others in safe and respectful ways.


During weekly library visits, students will experience lessons that focus on multiple literacies integrated into grade-level core content. Literacies such as reading, digital, information and multimodal are immersed with the National School Library Standards defined by the American Association of School Librarians. Students have the opportunity to check out books from the school library each week.


General music standards enable students to use music knowledge and skills to synthesize information and create music. Students continue to read, write and compose music, using increasingly complex rhythms and meters. They begin to develop choral skills, including singing in two-and three-part harmony. Students explore and perform a variety of music styles and develop personal criteria to describe and analyze musical performances.


Students master the integration of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) content, practices and processes to investigate and solve real world problems while engaging in meaningful, purposeful and relevant hands-on inquiry-based, problem-based learning experiences.

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