Third Grade Curriculum
Language arts curriculum encompasses skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Goals of this curriculum include oral and silent reading fluency, foundational understanding of literary elements and story structure, use of nonfictional text structures, differentiation of and patterns within different genres, and research skills. Students also bolster writing skills through spelling of high frequency words, application of expected spelling patterns, use of Latin stems to increase vocabulary, beginning use of cursive, revision and editing skills, and peer editing work. Units include book clubs, elements and patterns of fictional narratives, writing workshops, poetry, writer’s notebooks, writing workshop, and opinion writing.
Math units at the third-grade level focus on skills including using bar modeling to describe addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; standard algorithm use in all four mathematical operations; mastery of multiplication and division facts. Core units include place value to 10,000; modeling addition and subtraction with bar models; multiplication and division concepts and facts; units of measurement—time, metric, money.
Third grade students discover answers to questions such as: “How can the impact of weather-related hazards be reduced? How do organisms vary in their traits? How are plants, animals, and environments of the past similar or different from current plants, animals, and environments? How do equal and unequal forces on an object affect the object? How can magnets be used to solve problems?” Third graders understand the idea that when the environment changes some organisms survive and reproduce, some move to new locations, some move into the transformed environment, and some die. They apply those concepts to design solutions to problems using animal structures and biomimicry. Third graders determine the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object and the cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other. Students design and build series and parallel circuits and investigate static electricity.
Design & Engineering
Students will incorporate STEAM education components (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) to create physical projects with an eye on design. Utilizing the design and engineering center’s facilities, students are instructed and have age-appropriate access to wood and metal working tools, computer design technology, and electronic and robotic building components for projects. Third-grade projects have included designing and flying kites, box of stars, and snowflake weathervanes.
Third-grade social studies are designed around the Santa Barbara region. Students explore how the region has changed over time and causes of those changes, with emphasis on big ideas of patterns and change. Units include geography, Chumash, explorers, California ranchos, and the branches of government.
Technology skills continue to grow in third grade—students learn skills that include switching between multiple applications, interacting with applications using all menus, choosing appropriate application tools for specific tasks, inserting and ejecting external memory, displaying proper handling of storage, selecting specific print parameters, creating folders, and sorting/finding files. Third-grade students use applications including Google and Moodle to complete class and homework, and Google Slides and iMovie applications to create projects connected to classroom units of study. Students are introduced to formalized typing skills, as well as coding that includes conditionals, algorithms, binary code, debugging, functions, and nested loops. Digital citizenship is strengthened through units on online safety, private/personal information, and cyber-bullying.
Students use the entire school library media center in connection with cross-curricular projects throughout the year. Additionally, library classes focus on topics including the Dewey Decimal System, use of automated card catalogs, practice of main idea and summarization, and use of digital and print reference materials to complete basic research. Students continue to be supported and encouraged to love books and reading.
The head of Lower School leads lessons focused on owning one’s actions through the understanding of “I” statements, learning to advocate for oneself and others when necessary, understanding peer pressure, and exploring those qualities and characteristics that define social hierarchy within a group. Students also practice problem solving in activities and then reflect on the process.
Students take an active role in performing arts through singing, creative movement, participation in xylophone and ensemble percussion, and the Orff Schulwerk approach. The music curriculum focuses on complex pattern recognition and singing. The theater arts curriculum focuses on character development through more specific physical and vocal expression, the exploration of five W’s (Who, What, Where, When, Why) as well as improvisational theater.
An important component of performing arts curriculum is building a foundation for public speaking. To culminate the year of public speaking, students present for an all-school assembly. Students also participate in Lower School Winter Sing and have the option to participate in Music Hour and Friday Assembly Spotlights.
Third-grade students are full of energy and are beginning to adjust more freely with challenges and are flexible with rules and disappointments during activities. Students will learn to apply developmental and fundamental motor skills appropriate for their age group. A variety of lessons including refining movement skills, the introduction of team sports to teach manipulative skills, participation in co-educational intramural sports, and competition with five local schools in a track and field meet define third-grade physical education. Positive encouragement and support help maintain an atmosphere of active, consistent participation, as well as a willingness to try new tasks. Foundations for healthy lifestyle and good sportsmanship are fostered through curriculum.
Third-grade Spanish units incorporate the five C’s—communication, cultures, connections, comparison, and communities—of the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL). Students cover the first three units in the Viva el Español, Level Hola textbook and workbook. Each unit has three components: communication and vocabulary building, structure of the language, and culture. Topics of units covered include: vocabulary for classroom objects and school supplies, colors and shapes, animals, days of the week, locations; language structures for singular and plural forms of nouns, masculine and feminine endings of adjectives, definite and indefinite articles, singular and plural conjugations of the verb “to go” in the present tense; cultural understanding of similarities and differences between English and Spanish, broad understanding of Spain, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, flags of Spanish-speaking countries, and animals and biodiversity in Latin American countries. Celebrations throughout the year to commemorate Mexican Independence, Day of the Dead, and Mother’s Day will also take place.
Third-grade artists will be encouraged to explore their great ideas through various media and creative processes. Artists will work together to create and support a safe, cooperative, and engaging community space where all can thrive. Projects will continue to build fine motor skills, keen observation skills, problem- solving skills, critical thinking skills, and team building skills. Artists will continue their study of the elements of art and color theory, and will learn how to create form using various media. Students will be challenged to work with great craftsmanship, to consider the entire piece of art while creating, to add detail, and to add their personal voice to their work. Students will study and be inspired by famous artists and illustrators, as well as various world cultures, and will learn to use art vocabulary to share ideas about their work. Artists will also further explore their core classroom study of the Chumash and famous explorers in the studio while creating pieces to celebrate these key third-grade units. Third-grade artists will also participate in our annual Dessert Imposter Challenge.
Signature projects that define the third-grade experience include world map creation; the creation of a Chumash village; an explorers wax museum; a simulation of life on a California rancho; Beat poetry and songwriting; mock trial based on literary characters.
Off-campus day trips may include the Wishtoyo Chumash Village, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Rancho Camulos, Sedgwick Ranch/Arroyo Hondo, and Presidio.