Grade Three Course Descriptions

Language Arts

The third grade language arts curriculum incorporates a balanced approach between the appreciation of literature and explicit skill development in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. The Junior Great Books Series exposes our students to high quality literature designed to engage them in inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration.  Through close reading, discussion, reflection, and writing, students exercise a wide range of language arts skills.  Guided reading lessons and opportunities to practice reading independently provide third graders opportunities to develop and enrich their vocabulary and learn comprehension strategies for both fiction and nonfiction texts.  The writing program is focused on developing paragraph-writing skills. Students write narrative, creative, and expository paragraphs using science and social studies content. They are given many opportunities to practice grammar and writing mechanics through revising and editing with teachers and peers. The spelling program uses a multi-sensory, sequential, phonics-based approach. Speaking and listening skills are developed through class discussions that incorporate open-ended questions regarding texts, reader’s theater, and Paideia seminars, which are collaborative, intellectual dialogues. Sample units of study:

  • Junior Great Books story units

  • Fiction/Nonfiction related to social studies units on rivers and explorers

  • Fiction/Nonfiction related to science units on animal studies, astronomy, and sound

  • Research for expository writing related to the social studies units on Asia and Ancient Rome


The Math in Focus (the U.S. version of Singapore Math) third-grade program provides challenging practice problems to help broaden children’s thinking skills and extend their understanding of concepts. The problem-solving questions are designed to challenge students to use relevant strategies for non-routine problems.   Sample units of study:

  • Building problem-solving skills and strategies

  • Using models to solve real-world problems involving the four operations

  • Making and interpreting data from bar graphs

  • Identifying fractions of a set

  • Finding angles and identifying lines

  • Understanding area and perimeter of figures

Social Studies

Third graders study challenging and interesting material as they engage in the Core Knowledge content for history and geography. In addition to reading trade books, students use the Pearson Learning /Core Knowledge history and geography texts for each social studies unit. Learning geography skills and working with maps are an integral part of the social studies program, and special emphasis is placed on studying the important rivers of the world.  Children learn to interpret facts, make connections, and conduct research while studying world and American history. Sample units of study:

  • Rivers

  • Spanish Explorers

  • Asia

  • Ancient Rome


In the Science and Technology for Children program, students experience the focus/explore/reflect/apply learning cycle. This learning cycle is based on research findings that indicate that each learner actively constructs knowledge and that children learn science best in a hands-on, experimental environment where they can make their own discoveries.  Sample units of study:

  • Animal Studies

  • Sound

  • Ecology with RiverLink.

  • Chemistry



Students increase their contact time to 100 minutes per rotating week, divided into two 30-minute sessions and two 20-minute sessions. This frequency allows students to quickly familiarize themselves with the demands and expectations of learning a new language. Phonemic awareness exercises aimed at consolidating and improving listening and speaking skills take center stage in third grade. Focus is placed on being able to describe situations and in sharing personal interests. Students are introduced to the use of the Symtalk methodology that allows them to manipulate parts of the language, creating communicational chunks, solidifying vocabulary and introducing simple language structures in a completely immersed Spanish classroom setting. Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (VAK) activities are aimed towards engaging students’ different learning styles, as we incorporate songs, art projects, role playing, realia, and a myriad of games. Cultural activities continue to enhance understanding and respect for the multiple and diverse Spanish speaking countries. Sample units of study:

  • Personal introductions

  • Conversation Starters

  • Descriptions using The Symtalk books (speaking, reading and writing)

  • Action verbs in present and continuous forms (descriptions)

  • Telling the time

  • Introduction to Geography: “The American Continent”

  • Vocabulary expansion

  • Self portrait puppet video project


In third grade art we continue to explore the elements of art through two and three-dimensional lessons and projects. Drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, folk crafts, and clay work round out the year. Children progress at their own pace, and process is much more important than product. Highlights include hand-built and glazed clay mugs, underwater creature watercolor painting, intricate paper cuttings, and paper mache sculptures. Specific projects may vary year to year in response to new ideas and academic classroom topics. Sample areas of focus:

  • Study the basic elements of line, color, texture, form and space

  • Expand on students’ vocabulary of art and design

  • Observe and interpret works of art

  • Explore art history through imagery and books


The third grade music experience creates an active space for the whole child’s creative potential. Meeting twice every 6 days for 45-minute sessions, the program focuses on introducing rhythm, melody, and notation while engaging the whole body in creative movement. Performance opportunities broaden the singer’s vocal literature and offer skills in public presentations. Sample units of study:

  • Recorders

  • Theatre

  • Extensive score reading for instruments

Physical Education

Our third grade physical education curriculum emphasizes team games and cooperative activities. Games and activities are designed so that all students can find success, regardless of experience or skill level. We will work on many sport- specific skills and gross motor skills in a variety of fun activities. The goal is to give students the tools necessary to live active and healthy lifestyles in and out of school. Components of our program include:

  • Throwing and catching games that focus on gross motor skills

  • Sport specific units: basketball, soccer, floor hockey, Frisbee, badminton, volleyball, baseball, and jump rope, yoga, gymnastics

  • Dance unit, which culminates with our annual lower school family dance

  • Field games unit, which culminates with Field Day at the end of the year

  • Fitness testing through Fall Fitness Day


The lower school library supports the Carolina Day School curriculum, encourages reading, and promotes research. More than 20,000 titles are available to students and parents via the web-based catalogue, along with a variety of electronic databases, print periodicals, DVDs, and audio resources. The library program is designed to foster a love of reading and to teach skills in locating and evaluating information. A primary focus is on providing appropriate and enticing materials for diverse reading interests and wide ranging reading abilities, so all students can find materials to support their learning and joy of reading. Lower school students are welcome to independently visit the library throughout the school day with their teacher’s permission. Third graders are invited to participate in voluntary Literary Lunch Societies during their lunch times. These single gender societies vote to select the titles they read and discuss. Weekly library visits include:

  • Book talks to promote reading across genres

  • Analysis and evaluation of new picture books to identify those deserving Caldecott recognition

  • Voluntary participation in the Caldecott Challenge reading and writing program

  • Reading books by the North Carolina Children’s Book Award nominees

  • One-on-one reader advising

  • Exploring the library’s arrangement of resources

  • Beginning to use the web-based catalog to locate books

  • Introduction to the library’s subscription databases

  • Direct instruction in reading nonfiction

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