Grade 3


In Reading Workshop, students begin the year by continuing to build a reading life at school and at home. Students practice daily reading routines such as strategies for selecting ‘just-right’ books, talking about reading with a partner, and writing about reading. Through an exploration of fiction, students follow characters into meaning and are exposed to various story elements, building theories about characters. Students read nonfiction texts, using text features to gain information about a topic and recount the details that support the main idea. Students then turn their attention from expository nonfiction to narrative nonfiction, including biographies. Diving deep into a mystery unit, they learn how to cite specific evidence in a text to help them collect clues and solve mysteries. The school year ends with a book club unit where students engage in in-depth conversations, comparing the stories to real life.

Across all units, students are challenged to interpret their reading to reach their highest potential towards more sophisticated reading work. They continue to practice strategies such as making connections, predictions, and inferences, with an emphasis on interpretation. They show their comprehension by citing evidence from texts and supporting their conclusions through speaking and writing. While exploring a variety of genres and implementing learned skills to all books they read, students work on reading fluently and with expression, using context clues to find the meaning of unknown words. They also determine the main idea of a book and recount key details using information to identify the purpose of a text. 


In Writing Workshop, students focus on qualities of good writing including ideas, organization, sentence fluency, conventions, voice, and word choice. They produce three modes of writing (narrative, informational, and opinion) throughout the year and practice these modes through a variety of writing projects. Students begin the year collecting ideas and write pieces about a ‘small moment’ in their own lives with an emphasis on thoughts, feelings, and actions. Students write an opinion piece about a topic they care deeply about in our world. While reading nonfiction, the students write informational pieces on a topic they are interested in or feel they know like an expert. The students return to narrative writing, using what they learned from their ‘small moment’ piece and incorporating more descriptive language and detail. Students partake in an in-depth research project that coincides with the social studies unit of study on explorers. They learn how to identify important information in an article or book, and paraphrase it into their own words. Students return to opinion writing sharing their views on a global issue that we study throughout the year. To wrap up the year, the students study Poetry and write a variety of poems.

Across all units, students generate ideas and focus on organizing their pieces so their writing is clear, coherent, and sequenced logically with the reader in mind. As growing authors, students work to connect their ideas using descriptive words, and integrate dialogue and actions to enhance meaning. They develop, organize, and strengthen their writing pieces by planning, revising, and editing. Students apply grammar rules to their sentences and paragraphs, using correct punctuation, capitalization, and spelling of high-frequency words. Students learn and practice spelling rules and letter patterns. They became proofreaders as they take mental pictures of words and learn to identify misspelled words in their own writing. Students strive for accuracy and neatness when presenting their work. 


Students explore mathematical concepts through a balanced program that is rich in real-world problem solving and hands-on learning opportunities. Addition and subtraction fact knowledge is expanded to larger numbers, multiplication, and division as the children explore various algorithms for solving problems. Students use their knowledge of patterns and functions to help them represent various rules for solving problems and demonstrate the importance of order of operations. Developing an understanding of the uses and representations of whole numbers, decimals, and fractions, they learn to compare and find equivalencies. As students collect and represent data, they analyze and draw conclusions. Basic concepts of probability are applied as students learn to represent likelihood of events in both words and fractions. Systems of measuring are examined as the children learn to measure accurately with various tools. Prior knowledge of two-dimensional shapes progresses to three-dimensional figures as students compare and contrast various geometric elements. Throughout every unit of study, students are challenged to not only solve problems, but also understand why their strategies work and explain how they arrive at a solution.

During the year, skills are covered in a spiraling fashion, giving students the opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of new information on multiple occasions. Students use their knowledge of place value to read, write, compare, and order whole numbers up to one million, decimals through hundredths, and fractions, representing these numbers in a variety of ways. Through repeated practice, students build their automaticity with addition and subtraction facts through 20 and multiplication facts through 10 x 10. Various strategies, including estimation, are used to help children solve problems in all four operations. Students tell, write, and calculate elapsed time to the nearest minute.  When comparing two- and three-dimensional figures, students use geometric terms to describe their observations. Students estimate and measure length and apply this information to calculate perimeter and area. Third-grade mathematical skills are continually reviewed so that as students demonstrate proficiency, they can then apply these skills to more challenging, critical-thinking tasks.

Social Studies

The year launches with students connecting to the members of their community. Students investigate the systems of governance in and outside of school and expand their views to city, state, country, and the world. Students learn to interpret and analyze different kinds of maps and continue to practice map skills as they begin their study of Mannahatta. As students analyze its various habitats to present-day Manhattan, students apply their understanding of the habitats to interpret information and create two- and three-dimensional landforms. They embrace the study of the Lenape people, the first residents of Mannahatta, through storytelling and contrasting between their own culture and the Lenape culture. The unit on exploration begins with making inferences from photographs of famous explorers and their expeditions. Students ask questions, share ideas and role-play life as an explorer. They work collaboratively, evaluating tools of exploration and examine how they have changed over time.  In conjunction with our nonfiction reading and writing units, students make a thoughtful choice to investigate an explorer for their cumulative research project. The dual themes of individuality and community, which have been investigated throughout the year, appear again in our country study. The 3rd grade curriculum is a meaningful journey of self, exploration and discovery of being an empathetic and engaged citizen of our classroom, community and world. 

The 3rd grade social studies curriculum is a comprehensive study of people and places from the past and present. Students recognize themselves within the context of the world’s history, and analyze the roles of the individual and community across time. Throughout the curriculum students are developing their critical thinking and higher reasoning skills through exploration, research, hands-on projects and field trips. 


Students begin with a study of biomes and habitats, where they learn about rain and temperate forests, deserts, oceans, tundra, taiga, and grasslands. Next, 3rd graders embark on a study of architecture and structural engineering. They build towers out of newspaper and straws to learn about force and load, and create trusses to test the relative strengths of various shapes. Using what they learned, the students then build and test simple paper bridges. They apply their knowledge of shape strength to design their own skyscrapers using CAD software, which are built using the 3D printer. The students cap off their study by using the video “Caine’s Arcade” as inspiration to build their own creative structure out of cardboard and other materials. Over the winter, students learn about states of matter. They melt ice and use the triple beam balances to determine that mass stays the same when changing states. They also mix vinegar and baking soda to determine that gas has mass, and they make oobleck, a material that has both liquid and solid properties.  Afterwards, students study owls and biology. They work in pairs to dissect an owl pellet and to reassemble skeletons they found inside. The students use the bones they found to learn about the anatomy of small mammals and the structure of various joints.  Finally, they make connections between rodent bones and the human skeleton.

In the spring, students learn about plants and botany. They engage in a dissection of a lima bean plant, as well as sprouting their own peas and beans. The central piece of this unit of study is an experiment that involves independent and dependent variables. Students work in small groups to develop their own hypothesis about plant growth, and then design an experiment to test that hypothesis. Classes also go on weekly visits to the Battery Park Urban Farm, where they plant, cultivate, and harvest several kinds of delicious vegetables.


In 3rd grade, students start with a review on the themes they have worked on previously. Pinyin is introduced to students this year, as a tool to support their development in reading Chinese characters. Students also learn to use Pinyin to write and type in Chinese, which will build on the simple characters students have learned to recognize in 2nd grade. They will also be expected to recognize characters of the vocabulary taught in each thematic unit. During the year, students will work on projects related to the material covered in class. Students also learn about cultural holidays that the Chinese celebrate more in depth, and there will be opportunities to demonstrate knowledge through arts and crafts.


In 3rd grade, students start with a review on the themes they have worked on through 2nd grade. Through practicing basic dialogues, students learn the use of simple verbs such as “to have” and “to be”, food likes and dislikes, and the use of verbs “to eat” and “to drink”. Through conversations, students learn how to describe others, and they practice communicating in complete sentences using the vocabulary they have studied. During the year, students work on individual and group projects related to the material we have covered in class. They are exposed to some of the main celebrations and cultural topics in the Spanish-speaking world.


In 3rd grade, students start with a review on the themes they have worked on through 2nd grade. Through practicing basic dialogues, students learn the use of simple verbs such as “to have” and “to be”, food likes and dislikes, and the use of verbs like “to eat” and “to drink”. Through conversations, students learn how to describe others, and they practice communicating in complete sentences using the vocabulary they have studied. During the year, students work on individual and group projects related to the material we have covered in class. Students are exposed to some of the main celebrations and cultural topics in the Francophone world.

Visual Art

In 3rd grade, students develop their ability to create and respond to visual imagery, to experiment and problem solve using different mediums, to express their ideas, and to reflect on their finished work and works in progress.

Our focus in third grade is Emotion in Art. We start the semester by looking at facial expressions. Students study facial proportions and create a self-portrait, which expresses an emotional state. We continue with the theme of emotion when approaching our ceramic unit and think about how to express emotion through a three-dimensional form. For our printing project we look at prints by the German Expressionist, Kathy Kollwitz and paintings by Edward Monk. Students then create a print that captures sadness or sorrow.


The woodworking curriculum is centered on four main principles: the practice of individual safety and awareness of others, teamwork and cooperation between students, the development of tool usage, and a lasting sense of accomplishment and success. The overall goal of the program is for students to increase motor skills and tool usage, as well as develop a strong sense of personal accomplishment, success, and ownership by completing meaningful projects. Students learn how to use straight and coping saws, safety googles, files, c-clamps, hammers and wood glue to build their projects. Once the project is assembled, students design their project with paint and ink to give it a finished quality and promote ownership and achievement.

The first woodworking project in 3rd grade is a transporter.  Students draw, design, and build a unique vehicle. The goal is for each student to choose the form of a vehicle and to construct it in such a way that it clearly uses the three criteria given: it needs to be able to carry something, it must have four wheels and there must be a way to pull the wagon.

Next, students create 3-dimensional sculptures from 2-dimensional drawings. Each student creates a drawing and then, based on the image the students cut and shape the individual elements of the drawing out of wood. These individual pieces are subsequently filed, sanded and attached onto a “background” piece, creating a three-dimensional picture entirely out of wood. The creation of these projects places the student in the role of artist, designer, and builder. The process of creating this work promotes personal choice, creativity, and command of the materials as artistic expression.


In 3rd grade, students build on the skills and knowledge cultivated in previous years and continue to develop as musicians and instrumentalists. They are invited to take more ownership of their technical development; continuing to set goals and self-assess their progress. Elements of violin technique including violin posture, left hand position, bow grip, bow contact point, and sound quality continue to be important points of focus during each class. Students sing throughout each class and continue to build ensemble skills in preparation for their involvement in Band or Chorus during 4th grade. 

Students are introduced to the keys of C and E while continuing to play repertoire in D, A, and G Major. They practice scales, arpeggios, and song repertoire in these new keys.  Students continue to build music literacy by making the connection between the notes they play on the violin and their location on the five line musical staff. Students identify the four open strings, read tonal patterns, and read and write melodies on the staff.  Students combine melodies and rhythm patterns into an individual composition project synthesizing their knowledge. Students continue to build their repertoire of songs, adding many folk songs in varied genres including “This Land is Your Land”, “C Monkey”, and “Old Joe Clark”. They practice playing songs in many such as “The Instrument Song”. Differentiated repertoire continues to be an important component of the curriculum and includes bassline, melody, upper octave and harmony parts. 

Physical Education

Third grade students participate in both competitive and cooperative activities. Our curriculum offers a balance that allows each student to be successful throughout the school year. 

Through warm-up games and activities, students practice jogging and basic fitness concepts. Students will participate in a variety of team sport units, including soccer, basketball, floor hockey, diamond games, and badminton. Students are introduced to positions for each team sport and how to play those positions. Our cooperative units include jump bands, adventure and strategy games as well as fun fitness. The highlight of our year is the circus arts unit, which incorporates all of the above skills. Students learn the beginning steps of juggling balls, learning to manipulate devil sticks and yoyos, and how to walk/balance on a slackline. The culmination of the school year is our Lower School Field Day. On this day students compete in relay races and activities, displaying good sportsmanship and respect for classmates. 


Students spend the first few weeks of school discussing the importance of water safety, which includes our pool rules and routines. Throughout the year students review skills learned previously and build upon those skills to enhance their stroke development. Each lesson allows for practice of these skills and the time to develop the endurance needed to be a capable swimmer.

The first stroke we break down into phases is the front crawl. Students work on mastering the flutter kick, working on technique and endurance. We then break down the pull phase, teaching the students to breathe to the side. Eventually we combine both arm and leg movements to have a complete stroke. Students also learn backstroke and breaststroke in the same manner. The highlight of the year is our junior lifeguarding unit. During this unit, students learn the very basics of being a junior lifeguard, which includes treading water, surface diving, assessing a scene, preforming a reaching assist and most importantly, learning how to keep safe while helping others.

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