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 their reading. Through an exploration of fiction, students follow characters in stories to build theories and are exposed to various story elements. 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 from 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 applying learned skills to all books they read, students work on reading fluently, reading with expression, and using context clues to find the meaning of unknown words. They also determine the main idea of a book and recount key details 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. The students write informational pieces on a topic they are interested in or feel they know like an expert, while reading nonfiction. The students later return to narrative writing, using what they learned from their ‘small moment’ piece and incorporating more descriptive language and detail, which leads them to writing original fairytales. 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 write an opinion piece about a topic, by sharing their views on a global issue that that they care deeply about.

Across all units, students generate ideas and focus on organizing their pieces so their writing is clear, coherent, and sequenced logically, while keeping the reader in mind. As growing authors, students work to connect their ideas using descriptive words, figurative language, and 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 also learn and practice spelling rules and letter patterns. They become proofreaders as they take mental pictures of words and learn to identify misspelled words within 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 are introduced 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 compare and find equivalencies. As students collect and represent data, they analyze and draw conclusions. Basic concepts of probability are applied as students represent the 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 to 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 inside 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 work collaboratively, evaluating tools of exploration and examine how these tools 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 3rd Grade social studies curriculum is a comprehensive study of people and places from the past and present. Through a meaningful journey of self, exploration, and discovery, students become empathetic and engaged citizens of our classroom, community, and world. 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 Grade students 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 3-D printer. The students cap their studies 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 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 Mandarin, students review and build on previously learned material. Students continue to mimic what they hear and see in the language and begin to take risks in producing language independently. New vocabulary and structures are also introduced and practiced in a variety of familiar contexts. Students begin to read pinyin as another way to access the pronunciation and meaning of Chinese characters. Students also begin to write in Pinyin in order to express themselves in Chinese. They also begin to consistently interpret very short and familiar Chinese characters through reading. Proficiency-based performance tasks reinforce newly introduced content in all four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Through learning language, students are also exposed to cultural celebrations from different Mandarin-speaking countries.


In 3rd Grade, students review and build on the content they have previously learned. Through practicing basic interpersonal communication, students learn to recognize and use high frequency structures to make descriptions, to express likes and dislikes, and to communicate in simple memorized sentences. During the course, students work on proficiency-based performance tasks related to the course content. Students are exposed to more of the main celebrations and cultural topics from the Hispanic world.


In 3rd Grade, students review and build on the content they have previously learned. Through practicing basic interpersonal communication, students learn to recognize and use high-frequency structures to make descriptions, to express likes and dislikes, and to communicate in simple memorized sentences. During the course, students work on proficiency-based performance tasks related to the course content. Students are exposed to more of the main celebrations and cultural topics from the Francophone world.

Visual Arts

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, Kathe Kollwitz and paintings by Edvard Munch. 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 goggles, 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 it. 

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 continue to play repertoire in D, A, and G Major while exploring new keys and tonalities, and practicing scales, arpeggios, and new song repertoire. 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 parts 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

Students in the 3rd Grade participate in both competitive and cooperative activities. Our curriculum offers a balance that allows each student to be successful throughout the school year. 

Through warmup 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.

Students in 3rd Grade Swim will review freestyle and backstroke and develop their breaststroke. They will also be introduced to learning open turns and flip turns. 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, performing a reaching assist, and most importantly, learning how to keep safe while helping others.

More Resources

To see curriculum for another grade level, please select an option below:

Contact Us

  • Phone
  • 212-232-0266
  • Fax
  • 212-232-0284
  • Lower School
  • 41 Broad St
  • New York, NY 10004
  • USA
  • Upper School
  • 1 Morris St
  • New York, NY 10004
  • USA

Social Media

Request Information

Copyright 2015 Léman Manhattan

Request Information