Third Grade is a challenging year for the children. They are expected to master most of the skills taught in first and second grade and are now introduced to new skills. Third graders are expected to read beginning chapter books and write more in-depth and detailed reading responses. The children write longer and more detailed stories and focus on identifying and using author’s craft in their own writing. Many of the previously taught math skills are mastered in third grade. Students read and write numbers up to 1,000,000 and begin working with fractions, multiplication and division. The integrated science and social studies themes focus around Africa and the Savanna habitat. The classes are taught and activities completed with students engaging in small group activities, whole class discussions and independent assignments.
Third graders are now reading and writing whole numbers up to 1,000,000. They read, write and model fractions and solve word problems involving fractional parts of a whole. Students are now expected to master the all addition and subtraction facts through 10 + 10 and begin to use the basic facts to compute fact extensions such as 80 + 70. They also begin actively working with multiplication and division using arrays, mental arithmetic, paper-and –pencil algorithms, and calculators to solve 1 digit numbers multiplied by 2 and 3 digit numbers. Children measure the length of objects to the nearest ½ inch and ½ centimeter and tell time to the nearest minute. They continue to collect and organize data and compute the maximum, minimum, range, mode and median of a set of data. Problem solving skills are reinforced by having the children decide which of the four operations to perform as opposed to just addition and subtraction in second grade. Many math concepts are reinforced through math games. Computational skills are developed through daily review exercises.
Third graders are more independent readers and writers. They are reading beginning chapter books and are involved in more whole class shared reading of chapter books that they are not yet ready to read on their own. They are writing more in-depth and detailed reading responses with the focus on getting the students to include more of their feelings about what they read. Making connections, visualizing and asking questions continue to be an area of concentration when working with comprehension strategies. The students are now introduced to using predictions to “read beyond the text”. They take part in independent reading, shared reading and guided reading. Third graders write daily and they now begin to focus more on author’s craft and trying to recreate that through their daily writing. Several authors are chosen and a book study is done to identify the author’s style. Students continue to publish their writing but not as frequently as in first or second grade as their writing pieces are longer and the students spend more time revising their work. Daily mini-lessons teach story elements, grammar, punctuation and author’s craft. Spelling is taught through word patterns and word walls concentrating on compound words, contractions, prefixes and suffixes. Students learn cursive handwriting.
Sound, plants and simple machines are the focus in third grade Science. Third grade finds the students making models of the ear, speaking with an auditory specialist and exploring the different functions of the ear. When discovering plants, the children plant seeds and experiment with the levels of water, light and soil. Simple Machines is a fun unit as they learn how the pyramids were built in ancient Egypt. The themes are taught in six week intervals through hands on activities. Children are encouraged to explore the themes through the scientific method of observing, forming a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis and forming a conclusion. Themes are taught with a short daily mini-lesson and children complete experiments or activities in small group centers.
The focus in Social Studies is Africa, the Savanna and Ancient Egypt. The year begins with the students completing a simulation on the Massai tribe of Kenya. They learn about the lifestyle and daily habits by pretending to be foreign journalists. They make murals to illustrate the villages and cook some of the food. Because a large part of Africa is a savanna or grassland the children embark on a study of savannas around the world including the prairie, steppe, pampas and tundra to name a few. The children compare the plant and animal life as well as the weather in each of the areas. They also discuss how the grasslands affect our lives and how we as human affect the grasslands. The year ends up with the study of Ancient Egypt. This theme involves the children in reading about the Egyptians daily life and then making replicas of the houses, building the Nile River, making the clothing, reenacting the process of mummification along with many other activities. Basic geographic terms and principles such as lines of longitude and latitude, prime meridian, oasis, delta and savanna are taught and worked on through the above themes.
The third grade sociales program is a study of three of the main regions of the Dominican Republic, the south-east, south-west and north. The children focus on the economy, products, important places, traditions and geographic aspects of each region. They research using books, articles and the internet for specific information on these topics. They visit each region after their study to see the important places in that region and speak with the people. They also spend six to eight weeks learning about the Dominican carnival. They learn about the different costumes, songs, and dances for the different regions of the country. As a culminating activity, the third grade classes make costumes and learn the dances from various parts of the country. They then perform these at the school’s Dominican Independence celebration. Sociales classes are taught solely in Spanish beginning with a daily mini-lesson. The children complete experiments or activities in small group centers.