Students take a huge step forward in their growth and development as students, friends, artists, mathematicians, and scientists. The Third Graders are always on the go, whether they’re on campus or out on one of their adventurous field trips to study Colorado history.
It’s no coincidence that the character Arthur, the aardvark hero of books by Marc Brown (and a PBS tv spinoff), was a Third Grader. At this age, children are coming into their own as students, and engagement is high. Interested in everything, Third Graders come to class eager to explore, learn, discover, and discuss. The academic program in Third Grade leverages this enthusiasm to build confidence, reslience, and joy in learning.
In Third Grade, students develop a stronger ability to use their reading skills to learn about areas of interest. Students become better at selecting novels independently and seek out nonfiction to increase their understanding about a topic. These are critical steps towards the goal of becoming a life-long learner. Students develop their understanding of paragraph writing and are introduced to formal expository writing through persuasive letters and informational pieces based on research.
Third Grade teachers use the Bridges in Mathematics program to teach in engaging ways that foster a deeper understanding of numeracy and math concepts. Students in Third Grade focus on multiplication, fractions, and area. Throughout the year the multiply numbers from zero to ten with fluency, multiply with numbers greater than ten, add and subtract with numbers to 1,000, work with unit fractions (fractions with a one in the numerator, such as 1/3 and 1/6), add and subtract fractions, and explore division. They are continuously learning to solve multi-step story problems and show their thinking using a variety of strategies. Bridges uses visual models and a hands-on approach to make mathematics accessible to all learners.
Third Graders investigate the following topics: weather, ecosystems and watersheds, properties of water and hydropower, the solar system and outer space, the Earth and its ability to sustain life, and the human body. Hands-on projects engage students in building on their natural curiosity and students use our beautiful surroundings and outdoor education destinations as an extended classroom.
In Third Grade, students explore the concept of the past through their study of Colorado history. Our community provides ample opportunities for children to experience the past through ghost towns, mines and numerous museums that bring specific aspects of history alive. Children begin to see that the past influences the present, laying a foundation for the more abstract concept of considering how the present influences the future. Projects include an in-depth living history project called Changemakers, where children research a particular leader, identify the characteristics that led to the character’s accomplishments, and present their findings in costume with a research presentation.
Third Graders review previous vocabulary and continue their studies of French-speaking or Spanish-speaking countries around the world. They learn simple verb conjugation and learn the correct use of nouns and articles related to school, weather, seasons, community, places, and family. They delve deeper into the phonetics of the language to speak, read, or write more accurately. Their world language skills are becoming more sophisticated, just as their worldview is beginning to expand to encompass a more global perspective.
The full scope of the Aspen Country Day School arts program is even more apparent in Third Grade, when children are becoming more independent in their creative expression, ready to try new skills and tools to convey their many enthusiasms. Learning truly becomes cross-curricular as they create their portrait-sculptures for their historical research into a character who was a “Changemaker,” or as they create visually informative presentations in tech class.
Third Graders build on sewing and tying skills in a colorful tapestry project while learning about the Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead. They reproduce Edvard Munch’s painting of The Screamby creating their own rendition of what makes them scream, and they learn about proportions of the face during a portrait unit on Salvador Dali. They study form, color, and texture in 3D basket weaving, and use both ink and watercolor to create original work. They each create a soft sculpture dolls of their character for their Changemaker project presentations, exploring form and structure in textile art.
In Third Grade, actors begin to understand their voices using projection and diction. Extending the voice forward and working on their style of speaking, students learn about characterization. Third Grade performs Hamlet in the Shakespeare festival and helps create their scene for the All-School Play held at the Wheeler Opera House. Children also put on a playwright festival where they display their narrative skills of exposition and character development.
Outdoor & Physical Education
Third Graders are active and eager to use their growing strength and coordination to tackle new challenges. Children have regular PE classes both outside on campus and in the big gymnasium, along with outdoor education day outings that might find them hiking up the hillside behind campus or flying down the sledding hill by the Aspen Recreation Center. On the Outdoor Ed overnight expeditions in the fall, they go rock climbing with experienced guides, and in spring, bouldering in the desert.
Third Grade students build on the skills developed in the primary grades and have instruction and practice in volleyball, soccer, handball, badminton, basketball, and hockey, among other sports. Highlights of the program include rock climbing in preparation for the fall outdoor education trip as well as the winter afternoons ice skating and skiing with their class and parent chaperones.
Third Graders are introduced to rock climbing on a fall trip to nearby beginner rock climbing destinations. They learn the mechanics of a belay system and develop deeper trust among their classmates as they engage in this challenging sport. Each trip begins with the Third Graders hiking at least a mile into camp with their own backpacks on. In the spring, Third Graders spend three days in Arches exploring the majestic landscape through hiking and bouldering.
A Third Grader’s natural curiosity and powers of inquiry come to the forefront in projects like Changemakers, left. They take a deep dive into research of an historical figures who has made a positive difference in the world. In multi-disciplinary projects like these, children find many ways to explore a subject and make connections across traditional subject areas. They then use their growing public speaking and presentation skills to communicate what they have learned.
Projects & traditions
Aspen Country Day School’s emphasis on public speaking and presentation skills really shines in the Third Grade, when it seems each month finds the students demonstrating their increasing knowledge in front of an audience of classmates, parents, friends, or Middle School buddies. Children learn to leverage their own interests in learning, particularly in projects like Changemakers, when children select an historical character to research and portray. They learn how to break a large task down into manageable parts — just one of the many foundational academic habits established in Third Grade.
Service learning: Little Free Libraries
A few years ago, the Third Graders decided to create their own version of the Little Free Library for our campus. This was part of our school-wide tradition of each grade taking on a service learning project that culminates with an activity on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The experience of building, engineering, and painting the library boxes proved so rewarding that the Third Graders have made this a recurring project each year.
Above, Fourth Graders enjoying the library stand they made the previous year.
Aspen Country Day School’s social-emotional learning curriculum becomes even more robust in Third Grade, when students are often balancing the demands of their many friendships with the responsibilities of the classroom and extracurricular activities and sports. Third Graders have a weekly class meeting session with Lower School Counselor Mary Stokes. This is a valuable time to build community and focus on one of the school’s monthly themes, such as “patience” or “compassion.” Children also use this time to discuss interpersonal issues in the class and find ways to work even better together as a Third Grade community.