Third Grade Curriculum


The reading curriculum provides students opportunities to read texts across many different fiction and nonfiction genres, develop their critical thinking skills, apply comprehension skills and strategies, respond to texts, read with greater fluency, and expand their vocabulary. The reading instructional time is divided between direct instruction using Reading Street by Scott Foresman and a workshop model. During the workshop time, students work in small groups with the teacher, make written responses to texts, and read independently.

Each reading unit focuses on a "big idea" and an essential question that connects learning. Students explore a new aspect of the unit concept every two weeks, acquire new vocabulary, and read related texts. The third grade reading units include:

  • Living and Learning - Which skills help us make our way in the world?
  • Smart Solutions - What are smart ways that problems are solved?
  • People and Nature - How are people and nature connected?
  • One of a Kind - What does it mean to be unique?
  • Cultures - What happens when two ways of life come together?


The writing curriculum encompasses instruction in the writing process, grammar, and spelling. The third grade writing units allow students to explore narrative writing as well as continue to develop their skills in academic writing. Through explicit teaching, practice applying strategies, studying mentor texts, and sharing writing, students engage in deep and thoughtful writing experiences. They produce numerous pieces of formal writing that involve the full writing/revision process. Additionally, in each unit students apply their new writing skills to respond independently to a writing prompt under a given time constraint, usually about 45 minutes. The Units of Study Program by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project serves as the core resource. The third grade curriculum includes the following core units:

  • Crafting True Stories: This unit extends students' work with personal narrative while engaging them more fully in the complete writing process, with increasing emphasis on drafting and revising their work.
  • The Art of Information Writing: Children write chapter books that synthesize a wide variety of information, and they learn to section their topics into subtopics. Each student chooses an animal they are interested in and would like to research more.
  • Changing the World - Persuasive Speeches, Petitions, and Editorials: This unit rallies third graders to gather and organize information to persuade people about causes that matter. Throughout the unit students work alone and in small groups to develop their writing.


District 27's K-5 math curriculum emphasizes deep mathematical understanding and reasoning through real-world problem situations. In addition to learning and practicing important math skills, students invent, question, model, represent, and explore math strategies to solve problems and deepen their understanding of math concepts. The mathematical concepts, skills, and strategies connect and build across the grade levels. In grades K-5 students explore math topics through Math Expressions by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The third grade units include the following:

  • Multiplication and Division with 0-5, 9, and 10: In this unit students learn how to use a variety of practice materials and routines to practice basic multiplication and division. They also learn how to use different strategies for multiplying and dividing, how multiplication and division are related, and how to use math drawings and equations to represent and solve word problems.
  • Multiplication and Division with 6s, 7s, 8s and Multiply with Multiples of 10: Students learn multiplication and division for 6s, 7s, and 8s and continue to practice the rest of the math facts covered in Unit 1. This unit also focuses on word problems.
  • Measurement, Time, and Graphs: Students explore ways to measure things and solve problems involving liquid volumes and masses of objects. They read time to the minute and solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of time. Students read and create frequency tables, pictographs, bar graphs, and line plots.
  • Multi-digit Addition and Subtraction: Students review place value and rounding numbers to estimate and check reasonableness of answers. They also practice addition and subtraction with multi-digit numbers.
  • Write Equations to Solve Word Problems: Students solve addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems involving unknown addends and factors.
  • Polygons, Perimeter, and Area: Students learn to recognize and describe different quadrilaterals by their sides and angles. They also develop methods to find the perimeter and area of a rectangle.
  • Explore Fractions: Students build fractions from unit fractions and explore fractions as parts of a whole. They find equivalent fractions and compare fractions with either the same denominator or the same numerator. They use their understanding of fraction concepts to solve real-world problems.


District 27’s K-5 science curriculum emphasizes scientific processes/skills and builds students’ conceptual knowledge in biology, physics, chemistry, and earth science. The science program deliberately attends to students’ existing scientific ideas, provides authentic science experiences, encourages science exploration, and develops students’ science literacy. The third grade curriculum includes the following units:

  • Plants: The Plant unit exposes students to the complete life cycle of a plant using the 40-day, rapid-cycling Wisconsin Fast Plants. Students study how plants grow and create new generations of plants. Students also study the theme of interdependence and explore the reasons why the bee and the flower need each other.
  • Earth’s Changes: The unit introduces students to the concepts of weathering and erosion. Students create numerous models of some changes to the Earth’s surface that are hard to observe directly in real life. For example, they use stream tables to observe erosion caused by the downhill movement of water. Following each experiment, they compare their lab observations to what they have seen in nature.
  • Magnetism and Electricity: During the first portion of the unit students experiment with a variety of magnetic and nonmagnetic materials to identify the laws that govern magnetism. During the second portion of the unit students are introduced to the basic properties of electricity and learn about electric circuits.
  • Nutrition: The Nutrition unit is designed to promote an understanding of the overall importance of nutrition, a balanced diet, and healthy food choices. The unit also includes basic information about the importance of physical activity and sleep. Students are introduced to major food groups, the concept of a balanced diet, and food labels.

Social Studies

District 27’s K-5 social studies curriculum addresses five key themes of social studies: Geography, history, government, economics, and culture. Certain themes are addressed in more detail at certain grade levels. Social Studies Alive by TCI serves as the core resource. In third grade, students broaden their awareness about the local and global communities in which they live. They learn the fundamentals of geography, explore different cultures, study immigration, and are introduced to global trade. The curriculum includes the following units:

  • Where in the World is our Community?
  • Where in the US is our Community?
  • What is the Geography of Our Community?
  • How Do People Become Part of Our Country?
  • What Makes Our Country Diverse?
  • How are Communities Different?
  • How Do Communities Change?
  • How Did One Community Change?
  • How Does Our Economy Work?
  • How Does Global Trade Affect Our Community?
  • Researching Your State's History
Third graders look at Augmented Reality lesson
Girl writes on clipboard