Third Graders explore independence as they think, see and wonder!
The foundation of Third Grade is grounded in the building of community within the classroom. This sense of ”Community” or “family” is the thread that links everyone together. Here, the need for belonging, knowledge, joy in the sciences, the arts and fun is lovingly met. Character, responsibility, respect for others and the environment, interconnectedness and friendship are practiced daily and highly valued. A love of learning is nurtured.
The Third Grade curriculum is taught thematically. Language arts and social studies are highly integrated. Math is integrated as often as possible. Frequent meetings with co-curricular teachers insure integration with science, art, music, physical education and French.
The central yearlong theme of our social studies curriculum is Northern Michigan Community with a focus on Traverse City’s history. It provides a year of growth in social perspectives starting at “our own back door.” Our journey begins at home in our own classroom community. Students create their own classroom rules and enjoy activities, which build character and friendship. As the year progresses, we broaden our scope to include a study of the local area from pre-history to today. Our last week touches on the future of Traverse City. A spring walking tour of Traverse City culminates the unit.
Every other year as a thematic unit, we alternate global studies with the celebration of young authors. The arts are a large part of these themes and a year end celebration involves parents and friends. Resources like internet web sites, library books, field trips and visiting guests help make these studies come to life.
The Third Grade Language Arts curriculum includes instruction in reading, writing, language, spelling, speaking, listening and penmanship. Reading is taught with trade books from many genres. At times, children work cooperatively in a group or with one buddy to read, discuss and report on a book they are sharing. Culminating projects such as skits, choral readings, readers theater and puppet shows enrich the reading experience. In language, students study story form, nouns, verbs, adjectives, sentence types and paragraph writing. Frequent oral presentations develop speaking skills. In third grade the students practice a five step writing process. The steps include pre-writing, drafting, revising, proofing and publishing. Published works are placed in the classroom library where they are read along with the other books. Students write personal narratives, book reports, research reports, essays, poetry, folk tales and tall tales, friendly letters and stories. Our spelling program is derived from a collection of high frequency words used in reading and writing. In penmanship, third graders review D’Nelian manuscript and refine their D’Nelian cursive. When penmanship books are satisfactorily completed, a cursive license is issued.
Our Math program is entitled Everyday Mathematics and is part of the The University of Chicago School Mathematics Project. This program is organized into six mathematical content strands that cover a number of skills and concepts including operations and computation, numeration patterns, functions and algebra, data and chance, measurement and reference frames, and geometry. Third Grade materials include a reference book, a journal and a tool kit, which houses some of the many manipulatives used in the program.
Third Grade is an exciting year of personal growth for children. It is a transitional bridge for youngsters as they begin to move from concrete to abstract reasoning and thinking. It is an adventure of self-discovery and, at the same time, a year of cultural and environmental awareness. It is special year in the life of a child.
Third Graders participate in co-curricular classes. They have French, art, music, science, computers, library, and P.E.
Throughout the elementary science program, our students will build an understanding of:
- How all things are connected
- How change affects all things
- How science connects to all we do
- What it means to “think like a scientist”
Each year topics are revisited in increasing depth, building upon understanding from prior years.
By the end of the school year, science concepts Third Graders will understand include:
- Atmospheric conditions and their relation to weather
- The composition of the Earth's layers, the history they tell, and the movement of tectonic plates
- The conditions on the moon and information about its exploration
- How matter is measured and why
- The nature of sound and light energies
- The purposes of simple and compound machines
- How our senses and our sense organs relate and why they need to be cared for
- Ocean vertabrates and invertabrates and their adaptations and habitats
- How plants are classified and what their requirements for life are
- How living things depend on the other living and non-living things within their ecosystem to survive and how this relates to adaptation and habitat
In our quest for scientific understanding, students participate in both independent and collaborative work. They generate reports, projects, journals, presentations and experiments. Learning happens both through demonstration and modeling of science skills and instruments, as well as through hands-on experiential learning, reading, open-ended questions and discussions, embracing mistakes as learning opportunities and appropriate use of technology. Children are encouraged to take intellectual risks and responsibilities. Assessment is through student-generated rubrics, reports, class participation, quizzes and tests.
The arts are integrated into the curriculum by the classroom teacher, with enrichment projects through cooperative ventures with the art teacher, such as creating dream catchers for a native American unit and art from a given country from a social studies unit. Students meet twice a week in the art studio. They are given the opportunity to become more proficient with the variety of media available. They work with clay, markers, tempera paint and watercolors, collage, printmaking (using linoleum blocks and water based inks), colored pencils and constructions. Students begin looking at the Art History timeline, covering artwork from Prehistoric through Modern times. They create works of art using natural found materials, clay, and construction materials. They also draw self-portraits and learn perspective techniques.