Grade Three Curriculum
When the third grader returns to school in September, they are ready to get to work, to use their hands and eager to participate. They are also on the verge of experiencing themselves cast out into the world for the first time with the feeling of separation from their parents and the search for their own emerging inner life. They are taught how native peoples lived and built their homes, and how to shelter themselves. They are taught how to quantify the world around them through measurement. Each aspect of the third grade curriculum serves a living purpose for the nine-year-old child.
Each year students review and strengthen skills learned in previous years. In third grade, stories about farming and nature, as well as the Hebrew Scriptures, form the background for the language arts curriculum. Cursive writing is introduced and grammar studies begin. The ideas behind nouns, verbs, and adjectives can be illustrated through the stories within the curriculum. The four basic sentences are introduced, as well as basic paragraph construction with indentation and punctuation. Written work is created independently as well as together as a class with the teacher writing on the board and the students copying into their books.
Morning activities continue to include poetry and speech exercises and recitation. Reading groups continue and teachers choose readers that are appropriate to each child’s level. Classroom libraries are stocked with a range of reading books and children may bring books from home or their local libraries. The children begin to read chapter books that augment the curriculum, Farmer Boy, the Little House series, and Stone Fox, for example, are appropriate for the third grade. Teachers also read with each child individually during the year to assess their progress. Parents meet with teachers during conferences and are kept informed of their child’s progress.
Third grade is the year of practical math. The children begin to build on the skills they have acquired during the past two years. They are expected to know the time’s tables by heart, although children who are struggling may use a multiplication chart. Long division and long multiplication begin this year, and place value is continued up to the millions.
Through an imaginative story, the concept of “standard of measure” is learned. The children begin to use linear, liquid and solid measure through a building project, through baking and through weighing objects—including themselves! They learn to tell time, first through observation and then by the clock. Money is introduced and the children practice making change up to $20.00.
Daily mental math continues using rhythmic physical movement with clapping songs, beanbags and rhythm sticks to practice multiplication tables.
In third grade, the students are introduced to farming and house building and learn about various dwellings from several cultures. Teachers may choose to create a building project for the students to take part in. Farming is explored through in-class lessons and weekly visits to a local farm. During the visits, the children are given tasks that are related to the running and maintenance of the farm.
Each year the third grade class attends a weeklong farm trip during which they immerse themselves intensively in the experience of farming.
The study of house building in the third grade is presented as a multicultural survey to show how global citizens utilize the materials available in each part of the world to build dwellings appropriate for the climate and environment that surround them. The study of farming further emphasizes how humans are affected by climate and weather; it instills the importance of the earth’s natural rhythms and strengthens the children’s connection to the earth by allowing them to partake firsthand in the archetypal actions of reaping and sowing.
In third grade, the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures draw together the cultural and metaphorical history of Western humanity and the biographies of real people, weaving together the mythic and historical cultures into one fabric that is extremely age-appropriate for the students. The biographies of biblical characters are imbued with the same elements (flawed genius, over-reaching striving, a strong leader’s capacity for causing good or harm to his people) that the children will experience later on in their study of both classical and modern historical figures. It also introduces the cultures of
Egypt and Babylon from the perspective of the Israelites. When these cultures are studied again in fifth grade, it will be from the perspective of the Egyptians and Babylonians. The fluidity called upon to examine a culture from two opposite perspectives is sowing the seeds for comprehending the history of humankind.
Third grade continues with a similar format, but the presentations are more in-depth and involve more practical concepts. In addition, the children keep a Spanish book in which they begin to write short, easy sentences that express a simple thought, and illustrate the concepts and vocabulary that have taken root in the first and second grades. Dialogue and role-playing are used to carry out detailed instructions. The challenge this year is to form complete sentences. The children are invited to retell stories in order to enrich their vocabulary and build confidence in their pronunciation.
Songs accompany many areas of the curriculum through pentatonic flutes, recorder, and singing. The children are introduced to the full C scale by way of the material brought, and toward the end of the year, rounds are introduced. Movement activities are also part of the classroom music experience.
Children in the third grade have chosen a stringed instrument and begin weekly one-on-one instrument lessons and twice-weekly group strings classes.
Art is an integral part of each area of focus. The children explore each area of the curriculum through drawing, painting, sculpture, movement, and music. They draw pictures that are based on the main lesson content in their books and are instructed in new methods of drawing. In the third grade year, the teacher continues to guide the children in exploring color moods and relationships along with how to bring more form into their painting. Building and shelter, farming or Hebrew legends often provide the theme for a painting session.
Form drawing is practiced each week or in a block. The children continue to draw running, symmetry forms and forms with strong shape gestures. They begin to work with metamorphic forms and forms based on geometrical shapes.
In the third grade eurythmy curriculum, social harmony and an artistic sense are fostered through the use of group forms that are more extensive and complicated than in previous years, notably the five-pointed star. The teacher works to awaken an intelligence and independence of movement coupled with a solid orientation in space. Many concentration and stepping exercises are done to help harmonize the child within his/her constantly growing young body and with the space around him/her. Tone eurythmy explores the beauty of the C major scale in gesture and form. The gestures for the vowels are aroused in the consciousness of the child through repeated practice.
Third grade games continue to be presented by the main lesson teacher as an active part of the curriculum. With a double period of farming each week and two main lesson blocks focused on building, the third graders have increased opportunities for active participation, teamwork, and collaboration. Group dances are often brought, in relation to the stories of the Hebrew people.