Third Grade

There are so many wonderful aspects of our third grade experience at Wesleyan! 3rd grade offers the unique combination of learning new and exciting material in many subjects, as well as celebrating the knowledge that they have been able to collect in their lower years. Many of the third grade activities are cross-curricular and can be enriched as they acquire different perspectives and see different aspects from one class to another, including art, science, music, Bible, Spanish and more! It is so much fun to see the students make connections in the classroom. Our inspirational literacy curriculum includes novel reading, innovative application of spelling and grammar, and writing skills that are foundational and meaningful. In addition to this are reading and writing workshops that teach the students to love and explore the arts of both!

The third grade year fosters a true sense of independence and accountability that carries over in to their future as Wesleyan students and beyond as they become positive and productive citizens in our ever-changing world!

Curriculum Highlights


The third grade literacy curriculum is literature-based and encourages children to read from a variety of materials to enhance their interests and abilities. Students are allowed time each day to explore literature. Reading is reinforced through the incorporation of thematic units, genre studies, whole-class reading, guided reading, book clubs, literature circles, Readers' Theater, and independent reading.

The third grade literacy program combines listening, speaking, reading, and writing into meaningful language experiences. Comprehension skills are taught through the reading of chapter books and short stories using the Imagine It program. The Shurley English program allows children to practice their grammar skills daily with song. Phonics, spelling and grammar are emphasized in the context of reading and writing, as well as through direct and intentional skills instruction. Students combine skills practice with technology through weekly center games on computer tablets.  


Because writing fosters creativity, aids language development, and sharpens communication skills, students are allowed and encouraged to write often each day during Writer's Workshop. This third grade program is a time when children explore and complete all stages of the writing process. The Writer's Workshop includes mini lessons, independent writing time, conferences, and sharing. Lessons in grammar and spelling are also incorporated. During Writer's Workshop, students study a variety of different genres including poetry, memoir, nonfiction, fiction, personal narrative, and biography.

Phonics and Spelling

Third grade phonics and spelling instruction reinforces concepts covered in previous grades. Students are exposed to a variety of multi-level activities to help them become fluent decoders and spellers. Practice of spelling rules occurs daily through structured lessons, center activities, and the reinforcement of spelling strategies while reading and writing.


Third graders begin cursive handwriting at the start of the school year. Students learn traditional cursive writing, beginning with correct stroke formation. After each correct stroke is learned, students form the corresponding lowercase and capital letters. Students receive handwriting instruction and practice on a daily basis.


The foundation of our K-4 mathematics program is Math in Focus, a curriculum focused on problem solving through real-world and hands-on experiences.Students are taught to think critically about math by moving through a sequence of concrete (manipulatives) to pictorial (bar models) to abstract (formulas/algorithms) learning.To achieve mastery, students will learn the “why” behind each mathematical concept before learning the “how”.The ability to apply knowledge to routine as well as non-routine math problems is an integral part of demonstrating mastery of math concepts.

In grades 2-4, math classes are departmentalized and taught according to ability.Through on-going assessments and the support of a math specialist/resource teacher, teachers are able to differentiate lessons to meet the needs of each individual student.Academic support and enrichment are both part of the daily math experience in the lower school.

At Wesleyan, we believe success in math cannot be achieved without mastery of math facts, therefore each grade level has its own math fact mastery expectations. Research shows students who are able to recall math facts quickly free up working memory that can then be devoted to more difficult problem solving.


Third graders work in the science lab for two 45-minute periods and one 30-minute period per week. Students complete in-depth units covering the human body, earth science, physical science and life science.

The human body unit focuses on the respiratory, skeletal and cardiovascular systems. In the earth science unit, students study the solar system, moon phases and rotation of the earth. The life science unit focuses on animal classification and includes a special project where the students observe the life cycle of a butterfly. The largest focus in third grade is on the physical sciences unit, in which students study energy, work, force, gravity, electricity, magnetism, electromagnets, simple machines, light, and sound.

All science study units are reinforced with hands-on activities where investigative skills are practiced. In addition, the science program is designed to increase computer proficiency, enforce consistent study habits, improve organizational skills, and improve literacy skills for expository texts.

Social Studies

Third grade social studies is inquiry-driven. Students are encouraged to ask questions, and are challenged to use available resources to find the answers to these questions. This includes the use of trade books, videos, the internet, library, and field trips to enhance their learning.

Through the Social Studies Alive! program, students learn using interactive, student-centered text and engaging, hands-on activities how geography, climate, and natural resources have impacted the development and history of our world. Students develop an understanding of different kinds of communities by focusing on the geography, history, government and economy of our state, country, and other countries around the world. Students develop map skills that focus on real-world applications, and use models to locate places of the world.

Third grade students also focus on the five regions of the United States, and what features make each region distinct and the characteristics that unite them. After an intensive study of the states and capitals, students enjoy a celebration with parents to share their knowledge.


Third grade students participate in a concentrated and exciting study of the lives of Joseph, Daniel and Esther. They discover the amazing sequences of events that changed the course of Hebrew history. Each study addresses the historical time lines, kings, countries, laws, and dilemmas faced. Students will also know how to tell others about the life of Christ and the purpose of His death, burial, and resurrection. Students will have a general knowledge of the Old and New Testament books and their location in the Bible.

Students also become acquainted with a monthly core virtue which supports and teaches strong character-building. Each core virtue (i.e., friendship, compassion, service) is specifically defined and has a correlating Scripture. Wednesday chapel services are a special part of our students' week, as they learn Scripture verses to praise music, relevant skits, and core virtue activities.

Physical Education

Third grade physical education stresses the refinement of individual motor skills. Participation in team sports allows students to use these skills, and increases their awareness of the importance of teamwork. Body systems, stress, and smoking are major health topics.


Spanish language instruction is offered three times a week. Students continue to learn through games, stories and songs in an immersion-style setting in which reading comprehension skills are strengthened. Basic grammar concepts are introduced in third grade, and they are naturally reinforced through interactive storytelling and improvisation. Grammar components incorporate critical thinking skills as students analyze their own language in contrast to the structure of Spanish. At every grade level, sufficient new vocabulary is introduced to allow for a successful transition by students new to the Spanish program.


In third grade music instruction, students apply the reading of musical notation to an instrument as they begin using the recorder, a simple flute-like instrument. Through this medium, they continue to expand their reading, listening and creative skills. They are also given the opportunity to sing in Wesleyan Girl Choristers or Wesleyan Boy Choristers, and to play in the Third Grade Tone Chime Choir.


Students participate in a library orientation in which library layout, procedures and rules, and book care are reviewed. Students learn to select, evaluate, and use various sources for information such as encyclopedias, atlases, thesauri, newspapers, dictionaries, and the Internet. Students practice writing bibliographies in order to learn how to cite informational sources and avoid plagiarism. Literary elements and devices are discussed with read-aloud texts, and students are encouraged to independently read a variety of books for information and for pleasure.