California State Standards

       Image                                  Third Grade


English/Language Arts, Mathematics, History/Social Science, Science, Phyical Education Standards, Health Education, Visual Performing Arts, Technology

Characteristics of the Third Grade Student
While calm may describe second graders, "exciting" is a good description for most third graders. Dramatic and inquisitive, they will willingly tackle a great deal more than they can handle. Enthusiasm and curiosity are high and children at this age have a seemingly limitless reserve of untapped energy.

Eight year olds will undertake almost anything. They anticipate and frequently adopt a "know-it-all" attitude. Impatience is common, however, and interest may be short-lived. Some may appear to be verbally "fresh". They become critical of others, often exaggerating, but they may also become self-critical. They can be demanding of both parents and teachers.

Happiness often results from achievement for this age group. They are still active seekers of praise. Most have good communication skills. Self-expression seems to come easily, and their sense of humor is increasing. Although third graders are beginning to understand that others have needs, they continue to focus mainly on meeting their own needs.

Peer group relationships now play an ever more important part in the lives of these children. While families and teachers are still important, the larger peer group is now very much an influence. Spontaneous groupings of short duration occur; best friends are acquired; and a stronger differentiation between genders develops. In addition, eight year olds are able to assume more responsibility for their actions. They are now more ready to accept blame for wrong doing.

English/Language Arts

The English-Language Arts curriculum provides students, through their study and understanding of literature, with intensive experiences in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students progress at their own individual pace through levels of mastery. In grade three, the major focus is developing fluency skills and reading to learn.

The third grade grade student will…


Word Analysis, Fluency, and Vocabulary Development
• Understand and apply the basic features of reading (letter patterns, phonics, syllabication and word parts) in both oral and silent reading.
• Know and use word families to decode unfamiliar words.
• Use knowledge of antonyms, synonyms, homophones to determine meaning of words.
• Demonstrate knowledge of relationship among grade-appropriate words and explain the importance of these relationships (e.g. dog/mammal/animal/living things).
• Use context clues to define new words.
• Use the dictionary to learn the meaning and other features of unknown words.
• Use knowledge of prefixes and suffixes to determine the meaning of words.

Reading Comprehension
• Use titles, table of contents, chapter headings, glossaries and indexes to locate information in at text.
• Ask questions and support answers by connecting prior knowledge with literal and inferential information found in text.
• Demonstrate comprehension by locating answers in text.
• Recall major points in text in order to make and revise predictions about coming information.
• Distinguish between cause and effect, fact and opinion, and main idea and supporting details in expository text.
• Extract appropriate and significant information from text, including problems and solutions.

Literary Response and Analysis
• Distinguish among common forms of literature such as poetry, drama, fiction and non-fiction.
• Comprehend basic plots of classic fairy tales, myths, folktales, legends and fables.
• Determine what a character is like from what he/she says and does.
• Determine the theme or author’s message in fictional and non-fictional works, and relate them to prior experiences or the experiences of others.
• Recognize the similarities of sounds in words and rhythmical pattterns in a selection.
• Identify the speaker or narrator in a selection.


Writing Strategies
• Write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs that elaborate on a central idea.
• Develop a topic sentence and supporting sentences.
• Write legibly in cursive or joined italic, adhering to margins and correct spacing.
• Understand the structure, organization and use of various resources such as the encyclopedia, electronic card catalog, newspapers and periodicals.
• Demonstrate basic keyboarding skills and familiarity with technology such as cursor, software, memory, disk drive and hard drive.
• Revise selected drafts to improve the coherence and logical progression of ideas, using an established rubric.

Writing Applications
• Write narratives that 1) provide a context within which an incident occurs, 2) provides insight into why this incident is memorable, 3) include well-chosen detail to develop the plot (setting, event, resolution).
• Write descriptions that use concrete sensory details to present and support unified impressions of people, places, things or experiences.
• Write personal and formal letters, thank yous and invitations that 1) address the knowledge and interests of the audience, 2) include the date, proper salutation, body, closing and signature.
• Be assessed for proficiency in the Practical/Informative domain of writing, while continuing to write in the three remaining areas; Imaginative/Narrative, Sensory/Descriptive, and Analytical/Expository.


Listening and Speaking Applications
• Retell, paraphrase and explain what has been said by a speaker.
• Connect prior experiences, insights and ideas to those of a speaker’s.
• Respond to questions with appropriate elaboration.
• Identify the musical elements of literary language (rhymes, repeated sounds, chants).
• Work in small groups to make presentations.
• Organize ideas in presentations chronologically or around major points of information.
• Provide a beginning, middle and ending, including concrete details that elaborate a central idea.
• Use clear and specific vocabulary to communicate ideas and establish tone.
• Clarify and support spoken text through use of appropriate props (objects, pictures, charts).
• Read prose and poetry aloud with fluency, rhythm, pace and appropriate intonation.
• Compare ideas and points of view within the media.
• Distinguish between the speaker’s opinions and verifiable facts.

Speaking Applications
• Make brief narrative presentations that 1) provide a context within which an incident occurs, 2) provide insight into why this incident is memorable, 3) include well-chosen details to develop character, setting and/or plot.
• Plan and present dramatic interpretations of experiences, stories, poems or plays, using clear diction and pitch, tempo and tone.
• Make descriptive presentations that use concrete sensory details to present and support impressions of people, places, things or experiences.


• Correctly use complete, correct declarative (telling), interrogative(questioning), imperative (commanding), and exclamatory sentences in writing and speaking.
• Identify and correctly use subject/verb agreement, pronouns, adjectives, compound words and articles in writing and speaking.
• Use past, present and future verb tenses in writing and speaking.
• Identify and use subject and predicate of single-clause sentences in writing and speaking.
• Punctuate dates, city and state, and titles of books correctly.
• Capitalize geographical names, holidays, historical periods and special events correctly.
• Spell one-syllable words with blends, orthographic patterns and contractions, and common homophones (hair-hare) correctly.
• Arrange words in alphabetical order.

As parents, you can help by:

• Encouraging your child to do their best work. Give praise for effort and accomplishments.
• Reading to your child.
• Listening to your child read.
• Taking your child to the library to read and check out books.
• Asking the librarian for help in selecting award-winning books.
• Encouraging your older children to read to younger children.
• Having books, magazines, and newspapers available in your home.
• Letting your child see you reading frequently.
• Limiting television and video games.
• Giving books and subscriptions as gifts.
• Writing notes to your child and having your child answer the notes.
• Encouraging letter writing to relatives, teachers, or friends.
• Reviewing class work and practicing spelling words with your child.
• Supporting the parent organizations at your child’s school.
• Playing board games which involve reading and spelling.

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By the end of third grade, students deepen their understanding of place value and their understanding of and skill with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers. They estimate, measure and describe objects in space. They use patterns to help solve problems. They represent number relationships and conduct simple probability experiments.

The third grade student will…

Number Sense
• Understand the place value of whole numbers to 10,000.
• Calculate and solve problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
• Understand the relationship between whole numbers, simple fractions and decimals.

Algebra and Functions
• Select appropriate symbols, operations, and properties to represent, describe, simplify and solve simple number relationships.
• Represent simple functional relationships.

Measurement and Geometry
• Choose appropriate units (metric and U.S. customary) and measurement tools to quantify the properties of objects.
• Describe and compare the attributes of plane and solid geometric figures and use their understanding to show relationships and solve problems.

Statistics, Data Analysis, and Probability
• Students conduct simple probability experiments by determining the number of possible outcomes, and make simple predictions.

Mathematical Reasoning
• Make decisions about how to approach problems. • Use strategies, skills and concepts in finding solutions.
• Move beyond a particular problem by generalizing to other situations.

As parents, you can help by:

• Practicing math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)
• Encouraging your child to play games which use math (board games, card games, computer software).
• Taking your child shopping, discussing prices, and estimating totals.
• Providing opportunities to use measurement (i.e. cooking, telling time).
• Exploring with your child the math in everyday life (i.e. checkbooks, speed limits, etc.).
• Providing opportunities for your child to manage money (allowance).
• Identifying multiple ways to solve problems.
• Reviewing classwork, homework, and tests with your child.
• Encouraging your child to check his/her work.

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History/Social Science

In third grade, students learn more about our connections to the past and the ways in which local, regional and national government and traditions have developed and left their marks on current society. Emphasis is on the physical and cultural landscape of California, the study of American Indians, the subsequent arrival of immigrants and the impact they have had in forming the character of our contemporary society.

The third grade student will…

• Describe the physical and human characteristics of place and use contemporary maps, tables, graphs, photos, and charts to organize information about people, places and environments.
• Describe the American Indian nations in their local region long ago and in the recent past.
• Draw from historical and community resources to organize the sequence of events in local history and describe how each period of settlement left its mark on the land.
• Understand the role of rules and laws in our daily lives and the basic structure of the United States government.
• Demonstrate basic economic reasoning skills and an understanding of the economy of the local region.


In addition to the standards for grades 1-5, students demonstrate the following intellectual, reasoning, reflection and research skills.

Chronological and Spatial Thinking
• Students place key events and people of the historical era they are studying in a chronological sequence and within a spatial context; they interpret timelines.
• Students apply terms related to time correctly, including past, present, future, decade, century, and generation.
• Students explain how the present is connected to the past, identifying similarities and differences between the two, and how some things change over time and some things stay the same.
• Use map and globe skills to determine the locations of places and interpret information available through the map’s legend, scale, and symbolic representations.
• Judge the significance of the relative location of a place and analyze how those relative advantages or disadvantages can change over time.

Research, Evidence and Point of View
• Students differentiate between primary and secondary sources.
• Students pose relevant questions about events encountered in historical documents, eyewitness accounts, oral histories, letters, diaries, artifacts, photos, maps, art and architecture.
• Students distinguish fact from fiction by comparing documentary sources on historical figures and events with fictionalized characters and events.

Historical Interpretation
• Students summarize the key events of the era they are studying and explain their historical contexts.
• Students identify the human and physical characteristics of the places they are studying.
• Students identify and interpret the multiple causes and effects of historical events.
• Students conduct benefit/cost analyses of historical and current events.

Character Education
The district’s character education program seeks to instill in students habits of the heart, mind and will that contribute the development of a “person of character.” Six core values have been adopted to guide and systematically address ethics in the instructional program, as well as in the school community.

• Trustworthiness
• Respect
• Responsibility
• Justice and Fairness
• Caring
• Citizenship

As parents, you can help by:

• Learning about family history, traditions, and customs.
• Modeling positive, respectful, and responsible behavior.
• Taking family trips to historical and cultural locations.
• Having a variety of resources available at home (maps, globes, atlas, encyclopedia).
• Encouraging participation in community youth programs and service organizations.
• Discussing the implications of personal choices portrayed in the media and by public figures.

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The district science program encourages children to comprehend the nature of the physical universe (the interdependence and the connection) in a laboratory setting. Major science themes (Energy, Evolution, Patterns of Change, Scale and Structure, Stability, and Systems and Interactions) and the scientific thinking processes (observing, communicating, comparing, ordering, categorizing, relating, inferring, and applying) are crucial to the sciences.

The third grade student will demonstrate an understanding that…

Earth Science
Earth’s natural resources are used to create changes on the earth.

• The climatic differences between desert and forest are related to topography and heat variations on the earth.
• The water cycle provides an ongoing process of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation.

Life Sciences
Living things are diverse, interdependent, and evolving.

• Habitats provide living things with their needs.
• Living things have adaptations that enable them to survive in their environment.
• Living things depend on each other for survival.
• Living things gain energy from their environment.

Physical Sciences
Forces act on matter to cause motion and change.

• Different energy sources can be used to move objects.
• The amount of energy available from a source can vary.
• Simple machines use energy and force to make motion.

As parents, you can help by:

• Visiting science-related museums and exhibits.
• Subscribing to science oriented periodicals.
• Supporting your child in science related projects.
• Using reference materials to research your child’s questions about the world.
• Providing science-related software, games, videos and TV programs.

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Phyical Education Standards

The physical education program provides students with opportunities to achieve motor skills and movement knowledge, develop a positive self-image and recognize personal achievement, and develop social skills of respect and acceptance of others.

The third grade student will…

• Demonstrate the ability to use different force, levels, or directions to throw, kick, or strike a variety of objects.
• Apply patterns of movements, using locomotor and non-locomotor skills, into repeatable sequences (hopping, skipping, galloping, slides).
• Participate in a two player game emphasizing locomotor and non-locomotor patterns.
• Describe how forces such as friction and gravity act on the body to cause motion and change.
• Design a one-day flexibility plan including a warmup.
• Assess personal fitness in the area of flexibility, compare score to health-related standard, and make a plan for improvement.
• Develop a positive self-image through successful movement experiences.
• Create original movement patterns using time, space, and flow.
• Support and encourage a partner, both male and female, while involved in a physical activity.
• Understand that the historical development of the physical games and activities they currently play.

As parents, you can help by:

• Encouraging a physically active lifestyle.
• Encouraging good sportsmanship.
• Encouraging participation in organized sports and play (teams and individual).

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Health Education

The health curriculum provides students with opportunities to explore concepts in depth, analyze and solve real-life problems, and work cooperatively on tasks that develop and enhance their conceptual understanding. It also provides students with the knowledge and skills that can lead to lifelong positive attitudes related to health.

The third grade student will…

• Accept personal responsibility.
• Demonstrate respect for, and promotion of, the health of others.
• Understand the processes of growth and development.
• Use health-related information, products, and services.

As parents, you can help by:

• Providing nutritious and balanced meals and snacks.
• Modeling a healthy lifestyle.
• Promoting healthy habits – hygiene, rest, nutrition.
• Schedule regular medical and dental appointments.

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Visual and Performing Arts

Dance, music, drama, and visual arts are a means to develop personal dimensions within the learning process; thus, they provide the necessary curriculum balance in developing the whole person. They are integrated throughout the curriculum, though at times become subject-centered fine arts classes.

The third grade student will…

• Communicate an understanding of dance through creative expression, aesthetic perception and valuing, and dance theater heritage.
• Create a simple repeatable dance
• Engage in rhythmic movement
• Experience the creative process of dance
• Attend or participate in a school production

• Express and communicate an understanding of music by creative expression, aesthetic perception, and valuing.
• Sing songs with limited range
• Experience playing with percussion instruments
• Become aware of differences in pitch
• Distinguish between singing and speaking
• Experience music of various cultures

• Communicate an understanding of drama through creative expression, aesthetic perception and valuing, and drama theater heritage.
• Begin to participate in story dramatization
• Move as an object or storybook animal
• Reproduce sounds individually or with others (rain, wind, thunder, wind, etc.)
• Begin to acquire a sense of drama through storytelling and improvisation

Visual Arts
• Express and communicate an understanding of visual arts by creative expression and aesthetic perception and valuing.
• Maintain a portfolio with art work produced throughout the year
• Create a number of products that represent an initial understanding of the design elements: line and color
• Be introduced to drawing, painting, and constructing techniques using pens, tempera, crayon, and watercolor

As parents, you can help by:

• Exposing students to live performances and original art.
• Visiting art galleries, museums, and cultural festivals.
• Participating in community playhouses, band concerts, and art exhibitions.
• Discussing your preferences in music, art, and drama.

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Our vision is to prepare students for a changing future through the expanding use of technology that serves as a catalyst for learning. To this end, students will regularly use computers and other educational technologies. Through a district network, teachers have access to electronic mail and both teachers and students have access to selected educational sites on the Internet. In third grade, the major focus is to properly apply technologies to enhance productivity.

The third grade student will…

Computer Hardware and Software
• Operate computer independently
• Use educational software independently
• Type approximately 15 words per minute

Technology Etiquette
• Follow district policies
• Obey copyright laws
• Demonstrate proper care of equipment

Technology Skills That Improve Learning
• Create and edit graphics
• Participate in research-based class projects
• Format text using spacing and paragraph formation

As parents, you can help by:
• Providing access to computers with a wide variety of educational software.
• Working with your child on the computer.
• Familiarizing your child to keyboarding skills and word processing programs.
• Supervising Internet access and exploration.