Housed in a cheerful green building on our lower campus, 3rd Graders mix it up with 2nd Graders throughout the day.
In Language Arts, we employ a variety of reading activities to create a literate life, where books are carried between home and school, and reading is viewed as a social, pleasurable activity. Great readers make great writers, and we utilize the writing process to explore a variety of different genres in Writer’s Workshop. We use quality mentor texts to demonstrate different genres; favorites include “Childtimes: A Three-Generation Memoir,” by Eloise Greenfield, “When I was Young in the Mountains,” by Cynthia Rylant, and, “Hip-Hop Speaks to the World,” by Nikki Giovanni. 3rd Graders are also introduced to cursive, using Handwriting Without Tears.
With the ancient cultures of the Inca, Maya and Aztec as our focus, 3rd Graders become historians, researchers, and anthropologists. Using primary and secondary source readings, a variety of projects, and discussion, we develop map skills, learn how to differentiate fact from opinion, discover multiple ways to record history, and compare and contrast cultures and cultural traditions. One highlight of our year is the creation of a time capsule, to be opened when the 3rd Graders are graduating our Upper School.
In 3rd Grade Math we focus on expanding the children’s knowledge of basic facts and applying them in problem-solving situations to create more fluent mathematical thinkers. We move into learning the concepts of multiplication and division, measurement, money, graphing, fractions, time, and geometry. Students practice their skills as applied mathematicians by working with real-world problems, and develop their fluency and conceptual understanding by maintaining a math journal, and working to develop multiple strategies for problem-solving. One example: Our 3rd Graders put their skills to good use by managing the calculations involved in our weekly Friday all school pizza order.
In science, 3rd Graders refine their understanding of the human body and its systems and explore the needs of individual species and their roles in the ecosystem. For their Earth Science unit, they explore properties of matter with particular emphasis on the water cycle, watersheds, and erosion. We study the changes in our planet and beginnings of life on Earth. We learn about plate tectonics and other planet-shaping processes, such as vulcanism. Once we reach the era of the dinosaurs, students conduct individual research on specific dinosaurs and the characteristics of the eras in which they lived.
Our Spanish curriculum exposes students to the language through songs, games, and children’s literature. They learn greetings and introductions and acquire knowledge of topics like colors, body parts, shapes, seasons, weather, clothings, animals, numbers, telling time, and feelings.
In equal measure, 3rd Graders continue their exploration of the arts and movement. Each week, they spend time in our art room, continue their study of violin, learn rhythms and songs in music class, and listen rapt to our librarian as she reads aloud to them, and learn cooperative games and sports in Physical Education. 3rd Graders learn the next level of rhythms during our drum and dance residency; rehearse and perform an original play during a Friday Gathering; and create an original film with our Media Arts teacher. Weekly time with their older buddies rounds out a week of exploring, learning, and creating.