Third Grade is the culmination of the Lower School experience. Students learn to question and to consider multiple perspectives as they immerse themselves in the study of Native Americans.
The study of Native Americans of North America forms the center of the Third Grade social studies and language arts curricula. The year-long period of time devoted to this core study creates opportunities for ideas, skills and relationships to be developed slowly, thoroughly and with the aim toward fostering intellectual curiosity. Two overarching themes set the framework for exploration and reflection: the Native American view that humans are at one with, and exist in harmony with, all living things and the ability of Native Americans to successfully adapt their culture to widely diverse environments. Our core study of Native Americans provides a natural forum for discussions about stereotyping, assumptions, discrimination, equity and social justice.
The Third Grade literacy curriculum is designed to engage students in a balanced program that further develops independent writing and reading. Our curriculum utilizes a combination of a strong phonics program that augments the methods in the Reading and Writing Workshop. The program is designed to further develop independent reading and writing skills, to increase comprehension, word recognition, and vocabulary usage, and to promote critical and analytical higher-level thinking.
Library:In Third Grade, students explore informational books in greater depth. While students have already developed a strong understanding of non-fiction text features such as captions, headings, glossary, and index, in Third Grade they are challenged to look more deeply at the underlying text structures most often used in non-fiction: problem/solution, compare/contrast, and cause/effect. They continue to use non-fiction books as research tools as they investigate the accuracy of the historical events depicted in picture books about the civil rights era, but they also start to use the online Encyclopedia Britannica as an additional resource. Third Graders have become expert library users and are welcome to start exploring the upper school shelves of the library in addition to the lower school shelves they have gotten to know so well in previous years.
In Third Grade mathematics, students are encouraged to link past experiences to new concepts, become flexible, creative problem solvers, work cooperatively and discuss possible solutions, and apply mathematics to their everyday lives. In addition to basic arithmetic, students will continue to build their concepts and skills in the following topics: Numeration, Operations and Computation, Data and Chance, Measurement, and Geometry. Additionally, while studying Lenape Native Americans, a culminating, project-based learning activity helps students to explore the relationship between perimeter and area by creating blueprints for a Lenape Longhouse. The greatest change for students is the move to more abstract thinking, making connections and early algebraic reasoning.
In Third Grade French class, we continue to provide the students with meaningful and comprehensible language. The children engage in conversations on topics related to their immediate environment or interests. A typical lesson may include a variety of story-based and hands-on activities, music, and movement. While the students are given multiple opportunities to use their language skills, they are also taught how to best “learn” a language within the limits of a classroom setting.
Music: In Third Grade, students embark on a practical application of their music literacy to an instrument: the recorder. Evidence of recorder type instruments have been found in practically every native culture as far back as the prehistoric ages. The recorder’s appeal for this age group lies in its gratifying accessibility (it’s fairly easy to play and to apply concepts) and in a sound that children can relate to (the recorder possesses a timbre and range similar to children’s voices.) Native-American, early American, and African-American folk songs and games, many of them pentatonic, lend themselves nicely to the recorder and tie in well to the Third Grade core curriculum. The recorder ensemble performs in Morning Meeting and at Instrumental Night with the Second Grade as part of the Lower School Philharmonic. Students learn how to work independently towards common long-term goals by establishing good practice routines at home. Students continue expanding their solfège, rhythmic, structural, and vocal understanding through Far Brook songs, songs of other cultures, and formal repertoire of the classical canon. A short exploration of folk songs brought in by the early American settlers - such as cowboy songs and play parties - has been a complementary tangent to their social studies curriculum.
Dance: The third graders will create dances based on Native American customs and culture, considering the ceremonial and social aspects of dance and how to re-interpret this in a modern setting. Using the knowledge of classroom study and their previous dance knowledge, students will work collaboratively in small groups to create original work to reflect upon the history and culture of the Native Americans, and will present their work in performance as a part of a larger group work. Considering rhythms and creating their own music using claps, snaps and other body percussion as well as voice, the third graders will continue to develop a sense of personal artistry and performance.
Art: Our art curriculum echoes third grade’s core curriculum and focuses on the intricate decorative iconography and applied arts of various tribes. Students create weavings and their own original totem poles using foam core, wood and paint. In addition, students learn to modify a three dimensional object from an original two dimensional sketch. These works demonstrate original thinking combined with an historical perspective.
Woodshop: Third Grade students continue to think deeper about design as it applies to the Far Brook community. They are tasked with re-thinking an area of the school that they are familiar with, like the playground or the woodshop classroom. They then build a model or a prototype of the product they think would improve these areas of campus. Additionally, an integrated project is created to go along with the third grade core curriculum at the close of the year.
Third Grade students have sports 4 times per week for 30 minutes each class. The students continue to develop basic motor skills and sport-specific skills through participating in games and activities. Sportsmanship, team play, and fair play are an emphasis throughout the year. The importance of character development is refined and becomes more of an expectation.
Through the Open Circle curriculum, essential social and emotional skills are developed that are related to five key areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Children further develop skills needed to be good learners and to form healthy positive relationships.