Grade 3

In Grade 3, we focus on teamwork, cooperative learning, problem solving, and an increasing responsibility for directing one's own actions and learning.

To encourage students to become independent learners, we emphasize:

  • The development of good work and study habits

  • The development of organizational skills

  • Ongoing mastery of increasingly complex skills

  • The importance of respect and understanding when functioning in a diverse society

It is our hope that every child's interest, curiosity, and creativity will be stimulated by our program, and that each child will develop a true love of learning, along with a willingness to take risks. We try to motivate every child to fulfill his/her potential.

Language arts


The Reader’s Workshop method forms the focus of the Grade 3 reading program. Reader’s Workshop includes whole-group mini lessons, small groups, and individual conferring with the teacher, with an emphasis on strengthening comprehension skills. In addition, specific strategies used by all proficient readers such as: determining what is important, inferring, using prior knowledge, asking questions, monitoring text comprehension and creating mental images are emphasized throughout the year.

Children in Grade 3 develop their ability to choose "just right" books that match their individual reading skills. In order to select books they can read independently, students are encouraged to choose books that:

  • Sound like a conversation when read by the student (fluency)

  • Use familiar words, most of which the student understands (vocabulary)

  • Make sense to the student without struggling (comprehension)

When these criteria are met, students are best able to build their fluency, vocabulary and comprehension because they are not struggling with the text.

Grade 3 students begin to look at literature more critically by learning to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction, and to recognize and understand different types of fiction such as, realistic fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, plays and poetry. They study different types of non-fiction as well, including biographies and informational articles.


The writing program in the Lower School is based on the Writer’s Workshop approach, which is centered on research supporting the idea that children learn to write more readily when their writing is purposeful and directed toward a real audience. Teachers begin with mini lessons to give children a powerful model for the genre in practice. The writing program encourages children to see themselves seriously as writers and to gain confidence in their own writing as an effective form of communication. The Six Traits of Writing (ideas, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice and conventions) are used to revise drafts. Children also engage in editing and working together, benefiting from other children's questions and comments, as they begin to use rubrics to evaluate and improve their writing.

Grade 3 writing program includes:

  • Personal narratives

  • Report writing

  • Persuasive/opinion writing

  • Informational writing


A variety of multi-level word study activities that help students become fluent decoders and spellers form the basis of the spelling program. Word study focuses on high frequency words, common spelling patterns, words misspelled in children's writing and words drawn from all subject areas.


The lower school math program is based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards, which call for students to develop conceptual understanding and skill proficiency in number operations, measurement and geometry, through engaging problems and activities. Students are presented with lessons that provide learning experiences toward meeting grade-level math standards, and problems to solve in a small group and independently. Throughout the year, parents receive information about the mathematical content studied in each unit. Grade-level math standards can be referenced for more detail, but instructional time focuses on these four critical areas:

Operations and algebraic thinking
  • Represent and solve problems involving multiplication and division

  • Understand the properties of multiplication and the relationship between multiplication and division

  • Fluently multiply and divide within 100. (By the end of Grade 3, know all products of two one-digit numbers by memory)

  • Solve problems involving the four operations and identify and explain patterns in arithmetic.

Number and operations in base ten
  • Use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic, including fluently adding and subtracting within 1,000 using various strategies, understanding the concept and vocabulary of fractions, and multiplying any one-digit whole number by a multiple of 10 in the range of 10-90

Measurement and data
  • Solve problems involving measurement and estimations of time, liquid volumes, and masses of objects

  • Represent and interpret data from tables, graphs and maps

  • Understand concepts of perimeter and area; know the difference between, and relate area to, multiplication and addition

  • Understand that shapes in different categories may have shared attributes with a focus on quadrilaterals

Social studies

Grade 3 students have an increasing awareness of the world around them. They have mastered many basic academic skills and are ready to apply these skills to expand their knowledge. The Grade 3 social studies curriculum seeks to foster students' wonder and curiosity, while building research skills that will enable them to pursue their interests about the world.

The year is divided into two main units, each of which has a strong research goal. Students study contemporary London with a focus on using primary research skills. As part of this unit, the geography of the city and the UK is explored and students use maps, tables and diagrams to read and display geographic information and to understand how areas of the city have changed over time. Students look at where London is located in relation to the world as a whole. While engaged in primary research, students learn the research process: questioning, finding and sorting data, analyzing and displaying data, and synthesizing new information.

Grade 3 students also study the Victorian era. They are introduced to the discipline of historical research. Students examine the changes in the way people lived and worked that came about from the discovery of steam power and the Industrial Revolution. Through discussions, readings and observations of primary sources, students explore some of the causes and consequences of societal change during this era. With growing capability to grasp abstract concepts and use secondary research methods to find information, students learn to read more effectively for information and to search a variety of sources including books, reference materials, and the Internet to find answers to their research questions. In addition to these search techniques, students learn to pose research questions, narrow or broaden a topic of inquiry, take and sort notes, and develop strategies for writing informative reports.


Grade 3 students receive three lessons each two-week cycle, taught by the lower school science specialist. The pedagogy, materials and lessons are based on the Next Generation Science Stanadrds and center around Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading and FOSS Active-Learning units. Our science program uses an integrated approach connecting hands-on experiences with reading, writing and inquiry. The Grade 3 curriculum has an emphasis on earth sciences and forces. Woven throughout these units are opportunities for authentic discovery. Building upon curiosity and a natural tendency towards exploration and experimentation, Grade 3 students begin to devise test situations to prove, or disprove, their claims.

In the first semester, students study measurement and consider the need for standard units. Using the metric system, students practice using tools to measure distances, volumes of liquids, weight and temperature to develop skills in quantifying their observations. The focus then moves to weather and water, integrating with the Grade 3 social studies curriculum on the River Thames. This unit explores the concepts of air and atmosphere, phase change, the water cycle and weather patterns. Students investigate through first-hand inquiry, reading content-rich books, and writing to record observations and thinking. With an emphasis on asking questions and using tools to extend their senses, students collect data and create explanations from evidence. They discuss their findings with others to reflect upon how scientists engage in the practices of science.

In the second semester, Grade 3 students study gravity and magnetism. This unit immerses students in learning about forces and, in particular, gravity, magnetism and electrostatic forces. As in previous units, students compare and contrast their observations to build explanations from what they see and experience. They also develop an understanding that scientists continually seek to improve and refine their explanations. Drawing on their knowledge of simple Victorian toys from the Grade 3 social studies unit, students use their knowledge of forces to design and build their own simple toy.

Curriculum guides