A student stands holding a microphone surrounded by red, white, and blue balloons

Grade 3 Curriculum

The third grade program builds on the skills and knowledge children have learned in preceding years and encourages critical thinking, creativity, and respect for self and others. Students continue to gain skills and confidence working independently and taking on more in-depth concepts and projects. Third graders explore and organize information, research topics, and present information in a variety of forms. They perform the first class play of the year, march in the parade of states, engage in community service, and participate in Friendship Group lunches.

Program Highlight

  • Class play
  • Buddies with seventh grade
  • Person of the Week
  • Sharing days
  • Character Can
  • Animal adaptations
  • State project and fair
  • Snowshoeing

Specialist Time

  • French twice a week for 45 minutes
  • Art studio once a week for 45 minutes
  • Music once a week for 45 minutes
  • Theater arts once a week for 45 minutes
  • Woodworking once a week for 45 minutes
  • Physical education three times a week for 45 minutes
  • Library once a week for 45 minutes

Grade 3 Subjects

  • Language Arts
    A student holding a pencil leans forward at his desk during a writing assignment


    The third grade reading program fosters student enjoyment of literature and provides rich experiences for students to become fluent readers and learn comprehension skills. Students meet in small groups for shared reading experiences and direct instruction. The students compare and contrast their reading books with an emphasis on plot, setting, character traits, and sequence of events. They also explicitly learn about reading comprehension strategies, including activating schema, making predictions, asking questions, making inferences, creating sensory images, and making connections. Reading practice in school and at home helps build their fluency, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. Throughout the year, students work on decoding, reading fluently, and reading with expression. The program also provides many opportunities for reading a variety of genres: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biography.

    Our third grade students will:

    • read and discuss a variety of fiction and non-fiction materials
    • analyze words and extend their vocabulary through context clues
    • develop literal, inferential, and evaluative reasoning
    • develop word recognition skills and comprehension strategies
    • organize and sequence events
    • identify and summarize the main idea
    • predict outcomes
    • differentiate fact from opinion
    • identify setting, main characters, purpose, problem, solution, and resolution
    • compare and contrast information

    Class books have included:

    • Who Was Jackie Robinson?
    • Stone Fox
    • Because of Winn-Dixie
    • Night of the Spadefoot Toads
    • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson


    The third grade writing program includes the study of spelling, grammar, mechanics, usage, and composition. Students generate ideas, write stories, recap memories, and create characters in their writer’s notebooks. They are also given formal writing assignments and practice skills enhancing word choice, descriptive language, varied sentence structure, catchy openings, dialogue, sensory details, and similes. Specific rules of writing are explicitly taught, including correct grammar, sentence structure, capitalization, and punctuation. Students learn to write in various styles for a variety of purposes such as free writing, persuasive writing, research writing, personal narrative, and formal paragraph writing. They participate in weekly Writers’ Group, a free writing time that allows for the students to also practice giving and receiving feedback about their writing. The State Report provides an opportunity for students to integrate their writing skills.  Students also learn how to write in cursive, using the Zaner-Bloser style of writing.

    Our third grade students will:

    • generate topics for writing
    • use the strategies of the writing process such as planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing
    • share writing and receive feedback
    • organize and sequence ideas
    • use increasingly sophisticated descriptive language
    • write in different genres
    • research topics using the Internet, library, and other sources
    • understand and demonstrate the process for writing research papers (in conjunction with social studies reports)
    • build confidence and clarity in writing through the development of specific language skills
    • understand and use parts of speech correctly: nouns, pronouns, verbs, and adjectives
    • understand and apply correct capitalization
    • understand and apply punctuation: apostrophes, commas, end punctuation, and quotation marks
    • understand how to develop and write a good paragraph
    • develop research skills
    • develop spelling skills
    • form cursive letters in a developmentally appropriate manner

    Listening and Speaking

    Through small and large group experiences the students develop skills in listening attentively, comprehending and retaining information, and presenting ideas to a group.

    Our third grade students will:

    • listen actively when others are speaking
    • listen actively during a group discussion
    • demonstrate appropriate ways to be heard
    • respond meaningfully in conversation
    • follow multi-step verbal instructions
    • recall specific information
    • share thoughts and ideas when participating in class meetings and when problem-solving with peers
    • plan and confidently share research presentations

  • Math
    Two students share their math work with a teacher

    The third grade curriculum is designed to develop students’ knowledge of and facility with place value, multiple digit addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, compatible numbers and estimation. Students construct models and complete fact families to demonstrate their understanding of the relationship between the operations. They practice strategies to learn addition and subtraction facts with automaticity and learn skills in solving basic multiplication facts. They also practice identifying and implementing a variety of problem solving methods and learn to communicate how they understand, plan for, solve, and check number stories. Third graders practice skills and strategies when solving multi-step number stories, and they expand their understanding of fractions when identifying, comparing, and combining fractional amounts. Students also study geometric concepts and skills that encompass two- and three-dimensional figures.

    Our third grade students will:

    • use place value understanding and properties of operations to solve multi-digit arithmetic problems
    • develop an understanding of fractions as numbers
    • represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division
    • understand properties of multiplication and the relationship between multiplication and division
    • solve problems involving the four operations and identify and explain patterns in arithmetic
    • reason with shapes and their attributes
    • recognize perimeter as an attribute of plane figures
    • understand concepts of area and relate area to multiplication and to addition
    • solve problems involving measurement and estimation of length, intervals of time, masses of objects, and liquid volumes
    • represent and interpret data
    • construct and analyze tables, bar graphs, and picture graphs
    • develop and practice problem solving techniques

  • Social Studies

    The third grade social studies program begins with a focus on map reading and map making skills. Map skills include cardinal and medial directions, map keys, scale, and coordinates. With these skills, students design their own treasure islands with a corresponding map key and instructions for finding their hidden treasure. Students also learn about the state of Massachusetts with an emphasis on geography, civics, government, economics, urban, suburban, and rural communities. Students design their own community as a culminating project. Third graders embark on a major research project—their State Report. The report includes researching people, places, and things from a state of their choosing. The students work closely with the librarian to build their research skills.

    Our third grade students will:

    • develop research skills
    • develop critical thinking skills: compare and contrast, making observations, making connections, and forming inferences
    • practice presentation skills
    • develop map skills: reading and creating maps
    • describe and identify local government, goods and services, and the regions of Massachusetts
    • describe and identify the geography and regions of the United States through an in-depth study of one state (focusing on people, places, and things)
    • uses globes, maps, and atlases as resources to locate continents, countries, states, cities, rivers, mountains, deserts, oceans, and bordering countries
    • respect and appreciate cultures, people, and history very different from their own
    • appreciate the contributions individuals and groups have made to this country
    • appreciate the significance of traditions celebrated within the Belmont Day community

  • Science
    A student wearing a lab coat, hair net, and gloves conducts an experiment

    The third grade science program helps students construct meaning through observation, research, investigation, data collection, and the sharing of findings. Students learn to value science and appreciate the role of science in the world. They become confident in their own scientific ability and communicate and reason scientifically by discussing, writing, and drawing ideas. They also investigate various biotic and abiotic features of ecosystems and the four main components that define an ecological biome, including climate, soil, plants, and animals. The program guides students as they become aware of their personal impact on the environment by studying positive and negative human impacts on ecosystems. They expand their understanding of the scientific process as they make predictions, collect data, make observations, form conclusions, and share their findings. Students learn about honeybees, including physical and behavioral adaptations, life cycle, place within a food web, and human impact on their survival.

    Our third grade students will:

    • create a nature journal through the Belmont Day School Trail/Tree Observation project
    • use the class snowshoes to continue to explore the local environment throughout the winter months
    • actively engage in science process skill labs and activities
    • research and observe the human impact on the environment
    • actively engage in community service: recycling, composting, and Green Light Patrol
    • identify the ecosystems of Massachusetts and biomes of the United States and the world
    • understand how sound vibrations travel and the process of hearing
    • identify the producers, consumers, decomposers, and scavengers in food chains and webs
    • research and identify animal life cycles and adaptations

  • World Language
    French class skits

    At Belmont Day, exposure to world language begins in pre-kindergarten. The students have a variety of informal language experiences in the classroom based on languages spoken by the classroom community. Twice a week, the students are also introduced to French through songs, poems, videos skits, and games. From third to fourth grade, the emphasis is on communication by reinforcing oral skills and developing reading and writing skill.

    The topics are revisited and broaden each year and include:

    • greetings and civilities
    • expressing moods, needs, feelings, and ailments
    • numbers
    • colors
    • clothing
    • house and furniture
    • physical and personality description
    • foods likes and dislikes
    • family members and their relationships
    • pets, sports, activities and hobbies
    • time, days, months, and seasons
    • weather expressions
    • prepositions
    • actions verbs, including classroom directions
    • facts about Europe, especially France

    The students are introduced to French reading rules. They are introduced to basic, but crucial, grammar concepts such as word order, gender, noun adjective agreement, personal pronouns, and tenses. They also write short texts about themselves and practice communicating missing pieces of information.

  • Visual Arts
    A teacher helps a student reveal his fish print

    Students in third grade continue to explore a wide variety of materials and processes. As they engage in the world of visual expression, students learn about artistic concepts such as color, shape, texture, contrast, form, and pattern. They draw, sculpt, paint, print, and combine materials to create two and three-dimensional artworks. Self-expression and connections between visual art, nature, daily life, other artists, and cultures are explored as students design and develop their artworks.

    Third graders create their own sketchbooks in which they draw from observation and their imagination. Student art making experiences also include combining materials to create mixed-media studies of flowers, printing a signature ‘chop’ to finish their painted hand and hanging scrolls, creating sculptures inspired by thematic study of China, and using embroidery to create pages of a book.

    Past third grade art projects include:

    • Scenery and prop design for the play
    • Composite portraits
    • Use of watercolors
    • Drawing realistic proportions
    • Printmaking
    • Embroidery, stuffed toy
    • Clay sculptural containers

  • Music
    Students perform with violins and guitars

    The third grade music program is organized into units that introduce students to specific musical concepts through musical games, folk dances, and composition activities. Every student learns basic instrumental skills through Orff arrangements that include melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic parts. Students learn the basics of composition by identifying musical elements such as motif, ostinato, and harmony. Every class also has a component of individual and group singing. Students sing in unison, in rounds, and in two part harmony.

    Our third grade students:

    • Sing songs in unison and in two parts
    • Study musical form, dynamics, and steady beats through singing traditional folk dances
    • Study various music genres and artists from around the world
    • Read more complex rhythmic notation such as sixteenth notes, dotted quarter notes, and eighth rests
    • Perform rounds and partner songs in the Winter Concert
    • Learn about ostinatos by performing rhythmic parts using drums, egg shakers, and tambourines
    • Learn about motifs by performing melodies on xylophones, boomwhackers, and piano
    • Learn about harmonies by composing and performing during class

  • Theater Arts
    Third grade theater arts production

    In third grade theater arts classes, students build on the fundamental skills of theatricality they acquired in second grade. Students begin to concentrate on more advanced public speaking skills such as intonation, volume control, and eye contact. Having become proficient at speaking with handheld microphones, they now concentrate on techniques for performing with shotgun microphones and cardioid hanging microphones. Through the use of drama games, creative movement, choreography, puppetry, poetry, and theatrical critique, students continue to expand upon their performing arts skills. In addition, early in the fall trimester students participate in the third grade musical production. They are tasked with learning lines and lyrics, acquiring choreographic moves, and helping with the creation of costumes and sets.

    Our third grade students will:

    • begin to memorize and perform longer and more substantial scripts
    • become proficient at participating in and learning from theatrical productions
    • further expand their theatrical vocabulary
    • utilize physical expression techniques (with focus on Japanese Noh methodology)
    • act out Shakespearean death scenes to gain an appreciation for and understanding of William Shakespeare’s work
    • build upon previously learned improvisation skills to create and perform dramatic events & characters
    • continue to build their confidence as an orator and presenter

  • Woodworking
    Boy and girl in woodworking class

    Third graders enter the woodworking studio with the opportunity to build upon their woodworking skills and develop many new skills throughout the year. The students work on several projects such as the design and creation of an airplane, the magic marble cube, the “hole in a box” and a self-selected project. The projects require accurate measuring, consistent sawing with a miter saw, drilling, nailing, and gluing individual parts. Emphasis is placed on cooperation, the ability to share tools and to offer assistance to peers in the woodworking studio.

    Our third grade students will:

    • use tools to cut, measure, smooth, join, and finish projects
    • design, draw, and discuss plans for projects
    • recognize and use appropriate terminology
    • identify basic hand tools
    • demonstrate proper use and care of tools
    • learn accurate measuring skills
    • understand the properties of wood
    • develop safety habits

  • Physical Education
    A smiling student on an athletics field holding a scoop racket

    In third grade physical education, students continue to explore and develop a lifelong enjoyment of fitness and exercise. Students learn the use of manipulative skills in movement combinations, proficient movement patterns in games and activities, productive and respectful collaboration with others in achieving a common goal, and are introduced to basic sports concepts. Students engage in various movement activities including cooperative games, sledding, PE games, and dodging and fleeing games. Students also develop an understanding of the benefits of a healthy level of fitness.

    Our third grade students will:

    • develop knowledge of basic wellness principles and an enhanced concept of physical fitness
    • combine manipulative and locomotor skills in modified sports games
    • gain understanding of sportsmanship and teamwork while interacting with others in physical activity

  • Focus
    Two students outdoors playing I-Spy

    Focus class is a student support period providing students with additional academic support to increase confidence and success in the classroom.

    In third grade, the Focus curriculum follows along with grade-level content in math, language arts, social studies, and science classes. There is a balance between providing remediation in key foundational skills and reviewing and previewing current topics. A strong emphasis is placed on math fact fluency, writing mechanics, approaching multi-step tasks and long-term projects, as well as study skills for tests and quizzes.

    Examples of topics covered in third grade Focus:

    • developing vocabulary-building strategies and note-taking skills
    • identifying the main idea in text
    • making inferences when reading
    • sequencing ideas in logical order
    • identifying the parts of a sentence and a paragraph
    • writing a four to six-sentence paragraph using a graphic organizer
    • editing and revising writing
    • using mental math strategies to improve math facts in the four operations
    • dividing using place value chips, manipulatives, or the break-apart strategy
    • identifying and comparing fractions, finding equivalent fractions, adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators
    • creating a model to solve one and two-step word problems
    • developing time management, planning, and organizing skills and homework strategies

  • Information Literacy and Technology
    A girl doing online research

    In the third grade, students exercise mindfulness while using technology in a variety of ways. Students learn cursive writing fundamentals at their own pace by watching videos narrated by different faculty and staff members demonstrating proper letter formation as well as conduct research on ecosystems in the classroom. Students also learn how to leverage the online catalog to identify and locate materials. The librarian works closely with the classroom teachers to familiarize students with the research tools available to them in both the library and online. Information literacy lessons introduce the students to the structure of a library and particular search engines. The students use these tools when completing their in-depth research projects on the states in our country.

    Our third grade students will:

    • conduct research using print and electronic tools
    • find books using the online catalog with assistance
    • understand there is a Dewey Decimal System to classify library materials
    • understand that libraries are places for finding information, for recreational reading, and for special programs throughout the year
    • distinguish among literary genres
    • recognize and choose intermediate chapter books for recreational reading
    • use geospatial resources to locate and identify landforms
    • locate fiction by author’s last name
    • identify famous authors and illustrators
    • identify and use textual features on nonfiction books
    • use print and online resources such as encyclopedias, maps, and databases to locate information for personal or classroom research
    • use the library independently for locating, selecting, and borrowing materials

Our Teachers

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