Third Grade

כיתה ג


As the first Upper Elementary year, third grade both continues to build upon the skills and competencies that students bring with them from second grade and, in significant ways, represents a new beginning. Students use the skills they learned in the lower grades – reading in English and Hebrew, writing, and basic math operations – as tools for acquiring new knowledge. They reinforce and extend their schoolwork with daily homework assignments; they undertake longer-term projects and work, individually and in small groups, with greater independence; and they assume greater responsibility for their own materials and belongings. They also undertake their first yearlong sustained community service project as a class, organizing and coordinating the annual, school-wide tzedekah drive.


In third grade, students begin their work in the art room with “art starts,” an exercise geared toward showcasing imagination and teaching students how to observe and comment upon others’ work. In groups of four, students create different pictures from lines and then look at each other’s work in order to appreciate the wide range of possibility. Students learn the language of art, what to look for, and how to offer comments and critique in a respectful manner. Other topics covered during the year include painting and drawing, symmetry, patterns in nature, “stuffed still life,” an artist study (Georgia O’Keefe in 2007-08), dream catchers and clay pinch pots (in coordination with their theme study of Native Americans), landscape, “feeling line” paintings, and free art.

Hebrew עברית

Third grade students are divided into groups according to Hebrew language proficiency. This arrangement makes it possible for students to study at the level best suited to their needs.


The language series on which the program in these grades is based, and which provides the continuity from class to class and year to year, is Aleph Bet Yeladim Lomdim Ivrit. A sequential program, Aleph Bet Yeladim Lomdim Ivrit follows a structured linguistic progression and integrates the four language skills – listening, speaking, reading, and writing – in each unit. Based on the most current understanding of language acquisition in children, it exposes students to multiple genres, including stories, conversations, poems, songs, albums, journals, bulletin board notices, and the like. Students are challenged to speak and write, using the language patterns they are learning in both familiar and new contexts. Additional reading materials and language exercises developed by the school complement the published units and ensure that students have ample opportunity to practice their emerging language forms and structures within a naturally occurring, functional context.


In the advanced classes, students read short stories, write extensively, creating travel pamphlets and short stories, and speak in full sentences using verbs in several conjugations, in all tenses, and in active and passive voices. In addition, they prepare and perform their own plays and make oral presentations.


In the intermediate groups, students review and reinforce their basic reading skills and learn to conjugate verbs in present tense and the infinitive form; in addition, they study agreement among nouns, verbs, and adjectives in gender and number. For all students, spoken Hebrew is reinforced through classroom routines and classroom phrases.

Jewish Studies

In third grade, Torah study focuses on B’reshit (Genesis) 18-25, continuing the lives of Abraham and Sarah and moving on to Isaac, Rebecca, and Jacob. Working in chevruta pairs and guided by their teachers, students read, comprehend, discuss, analyze, and interpret the text, and pose “juicy” (probing) questions and share answers about it.


Among the grammatical skills students learn are identifying the subject and verb of a sentence; recognizing direct speech; transforming the tenses of verbs using vav hahipuch (the conversive vav); and analyzing complex verbs into shorashim (verb roots) and suffixes.


A new subject in third grade is Pitgam (rabbinic sayings), which serves as an introduction to Mishnah. During the year, students study a rabbinic saying each week, mostly relating to a Jewish value or a moral dilemma. The value or dilemma is often contextualized by means of a written scenario, a story, or a skit. Students then read and comprehend the pitgam using familiar vocabulary and shorashim (verb roots). Following a discussion about the meaning and possible interpretations of the text, the value or dilemma itself, and its application to students’ lives, the students prepare a page illustrating the pitgam.


In t’filah, the third grade students complete their study of the Amidah, learning the full text of each b’rachah, identifying its main themes based on key words, class discussions, and activities, uncovering its personal significance to them, and illustrating it in their individual siddurim. In addition to the Amidah, third grade is also introduced to new sections of the Torah service, Hallel, and Kabbalat Shabbat and additional prayers for the high holidays, Sukkot, Chanukah, and Purim.


The third graders’ insights into and knowledge of chagim (Jewish holidays) continues to deepen as they both revisit previous years’ experiences and introduce new aspects: studying basic texts from Rabbinic literature and the Torah. Students are exposed to different interpretations of these texts and form how they relate to our own observance of the holidays.


In Israel studies, the students study the various cultural groups within Israel and learn about their culture.

Language Arts

Writing and reading workshops are coordinated throughout the year. In writing workshop, students use their own experiences to learn the craft of writing both from the writing of professional authors and by living the writer’s life themselves. In reading workshop, they learn to live rich, literate lives by working from their chosen books to become expert readers and to understand the world complexly. At the same time, their teachers model the thinking, language, behaviors, and strategies of successful writers and readers and build communities in their classrooms in which the students can engage in reading and writing text in active, individual, and personal ways.


In reading workshop, students continue to build upon the comprehension and decoding strategies that they learned in the lower grades. Units studied during the year include character, non-fiction, comprehension strategies, and book clubs. The students keep reader’s notebooks to help keep track of their thoughts and to record their predictions, inferences, and interpretations. In independent book club discussions, students develop ideas and insights that arise from their reading and learn to extend their conversations.


In writing workshop, students learn to build upon the writing process that they experienced in the Lower Elementary Division. In a workshop setting, they keep writer’s notebooks in which they record entries from their personal experience; choose writing “seeds” that seem promising; expand, extend, and build upon them with detail and description; share their writing with each other and respond to each other’s writing; and edit, revise, and publish their work. They gain experience in writing sentences, paragraphs, and multi-paragraph pieces; work on developing strong beginnings; and proofread for conventional spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Students also participate in writing clubs, where they experiment with various genres.


Students use many styles of writing in third grade, such as biographies, articles, informational books, reading response, and across-curriculum writing, including writing based on research. They also learn to write and read cursive script using the Universal Publishing handwriting system.


The following routines support and reinforce a mastery of written language: ongoing class work and homework on spelling: a word wall of high-frequency words, spelling explorations based on sounds, direct instruction in spelling rules and patterns, word puzzles, and independent work on personal spelling mistakes.


Third grade continues to place a balanced emphasis on understanding mathematical concepts as well as speed and accuracy in computation. Students work both individually and cooperatively with partners.
Key goals for the year include understanding multiplication and division, studying multiplication tables up to 10, adding and subtracting two- and three-digit numbers, and explaining solution strategies orally, in writing, and with pictures. To help students understand new concepts, tangible objects, physical models (e.g., number lines, 100’s and 300’s charts), and arrays are used; to help build fluency in computation, students use flash cards, mental math, and 60-second challenges.


Third graders study the following topics:

  • Review and extension of basic skills
  • Addition and subtraction of two- and three-digit numbers
  • Skip counting
  • Multiplication and division
  • An introduction to fractions
  • Measurement with standard units
  • Problem solving using alternative strategies
  • Math puzzles
  • Multi-step math projects
  • Money
  • Geometry
  • Graphing and surveys


In third grade, students are introduced to the recorder, through which they learn to read, write, and sing (solfege) the notes using the European method of do re mi (A B C). Among the elements they learn are measures, sharp notes, and 1/8 notes. The recorder study also facilitates playing in ensemble and being able to listen to others while playing; elements of rhythmic studies; composition; and ear training. A highlight of the year is preparation for and participation in the Carnegie Hall-sponsored Link Up! program, which culminates in a field trip to Carnegie Hall, where students play in an ensemble of thousands, with orchestra.


Throughout the year, students are exposed to different kinds of music, from Baroque to Classical, Romantic as well as modern. They also study about composers and their work from the different periods, and they create dances and movement in relation to the music that they listen to.


Students of Kitah Gimel continue to build their repertoire of Israeli and Jewish songs, including holiday songs. This students participate actively in the annual school concert in the spring. They perform both a vocal selection and on the recorder. In addition, those students who participate in the Elementary School chorus study other songs which they also perform.

Physical Education

In third grade, students strengthen basic skills such as kicking, throwing, and catching and reinforce these in games, such as toss and catch, soccer, and kickball. During soccer, students learn to use the entire field, as well as building their basic skills.


In third grade, the winter program is conducted in a gymnasium. Building on their kicking skills from soccer, students learn two different types of indoor kickball, dome-ball and end-line kickball. In the basketball unit, students receive an introduction to dribbling, passing, and shooting, and they play mini-games at both ends of the court. Teamwork, sportsmanship, and cooperation with classmates are taught during the games, as students are reminded to use their teammates.


The outdoor spring season in Central Park focuses on softball. Students work on proper throwing, catching, and batting techniques, and they learn rules and strategies.

Thematic Studies, Science & Social Science

The theme in third grade is culture. The students begin the year by inquiring, “What is culture?” Looking at both environmental and cultural influences, they explore a variety of constructs, including language, art, religion, values, and survival needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. They investigate the connections between people and the physical characteristics of the place in which they live.


Following a unit on the geography of the United States, in which students learn to read maps, the focus shifts to the case study for the class’s exploration of culture, the Native Americans. The students research specific topics of their choice relating to the environment and elements of Native American culture, such as clothing, housing, beliefs, history, and tribal structure. In their book research, they learn to read and comprehend non-fiction, identify the main idea of a paragraph, take notes and produce a final product that is a complete paragraph long. In the process, they learn to manage time and materials, organize an extended project, and work independently.


The children express their understanding of Native American culture in writing, through a creative component, and in an oral presentation. These products are on display at Longhouse Day, the culminating presentation that is a highlight of their Native American study and of the third grade year.


In science, the students develop an understanding of matter in its three basic states – solid, liquid, and gas. They generate definitions and understandings of the properties of each state and apply these definitions and understandings. In the process of gathering and applying evidence to support their hypotheses, they have repeated opportunities to revise their ideas and overcome common misconceptions. Throughout the year, they do an in-depth study of plants, specifically exploring how they grow. In addition to making observations and collecting data, students explore how varying conditions impact a plant’s growth. The second unit brings together the different elements of STEAM as the students engage in a unit on insects. They will learn basic STEAM and design skills in order to engineer an exoskeleton. Finally, the year culminates in an in-depth study of bees, their culture, and their relationship with plants. Through these activities and experiments, students learn about scientific methodology and develop skills in scientific thinking.