Grade 3

Social Studies


Essential Questions:

  • How do we study the past?
  • What questions are important to ask about the past?
  • How was life in the past different from and similar to today?
  • How do cultures change over time?

Perspective-taking provides the framework for the third grade social studies program. In the first half of the year, students immerse themselves in the life of 19th century New England, with a focus on the local history of Connecticut. Oral histories, visual arts, and hands-on exploration of artifactsoffer the opportunity for students to learn from, and make interpretations about, primary sources.


Moving from local to far away, the class embarks on a comprehensive study of Australia. Students consider the ways that geography shapes the experience and culture of a place. Historical and environmental factors, the indigenous people of the continent, the Great Barrier Reef, and contemporary life in Australia are all incorporated into a lively exploration.


Third graders continue to build social competency through exercises in team-building, cooperation, and collaboration. The year ends with a biographical research unit about inventors, focusing on the ways in which innovation has impacted people’s lives.




In third grade, students investigate motion and design, earth science, and the oceans. These content areas present the students with problems whose solutions require hypothesizing, predicting, experimenting, observing, manipulating variables, handling equipment, recording and graphing data, and communicating with peers. The earth science unit includes the study of the age, origin, and structure of the earth as well as plate theory and the correlation between continental drift and earthquakes and volcanoes. Methods of observation and classification are practiced through a study of rocks. Students perform basic testing methods for identifying minerals. The oceans unit focuses on the structure of aquatic environments, marine plants and animals, and their special adaptations. The students perform experiments and travel to Mystic Aquarium. During the study of motion and design, students explore concepts related to the physics of motion and apply those concepts to technological design.


Third graders expand their mathematical abilities as they explore increasingly abstract processes and expressions including place value, decimals, fractions, division, multiplication, measurement, geometry, probability, data, and graphing. Throughout the year, the class is divided into smaller groups for focused investigations in many types of mathematics. Children measure, record, and calculate sizes of objects using standard and metric units. They practice recall of basic facts while exploring the relationships of numbers in a variety of contexts. Algebraic skills are expanded and reinforced through problem-solving, logic puzzles, and operations involving multiple steps and multi-digit numbers. 

English/Language Arts

Literature forms the basis for the language arts program in third grade. Many of the books we choose are connected to themes and content in other parts of the curriculum. Children learn about colonial New England and hear stories about people of the times. They study Australian culture, and listen to folk tales about “Dreamtime.” Read-aloud time continues from the primary grades. This practice serves to foster students' enjoyment of a variety of literary genres, aids them in choosing books for reading, develops their sensitivity to written expression, and helps them generate topics for their writing. Direct instruction includes lessons in the mechanics of writing, including capitalization and punctuation, spelling and cursive writing. Novels and nonfiction books are used for daily oral and silent reading practice, individually, in small groups, and by the entire class. The students share and discuss their book selections and their writing. In reading, students develop fluency, consolidate word recognition and decoding skills, and develop literal and abstract comprehension skills. They make connections among texts, predict outcomes, summarize content and structure, and infer meanings. Students write about topics of their own choosing as well as assigned topics related to all areas of the curriculum. They conference with their peers and teachers to edit their own work, to share their work with the class, and to respond to the work of others. 


World Language


In third grade, children learn to communicate about everyday topics such as their families, pets, hobbies, and body parts in greater detail. They ask and answer simple questions using basic linguistic structures. While listening and speaking remain integral to the third-grade curriculum, reading and writing are introduced during third grade. Pinyin, the pronunciation system, is not explicitly taught, but at times is used to assist with students’ acquisition of new sounds. Instruction continues to be highly interactive. 

Writing exercises are implemented in an age-appropriate manner. The writing objectives include being able to follow stroke orders, and write numbers, single pictographs, radicals, and some of the most commonly used characters to communicate meaning.

In addition to celebrating traditional Chinese holidays with hands-on activities, third-grade students experience a STEM unit at the end of spring. The STEM lessons for the third graders are math oriented. Students are asked to do math facts in Chinese.

Online resources are provided for those who would like to reinforce classroom learning at home.



Our program is grounded in oral and aural acquisition. We present the students with vocabulary, structures and situations that are relevant to their personal lives. They are then motivated to use French to play a game, solve a puzzle, or participate in an activity with a friend. Lessons are supplemented by videos, dialogues, games, and songs. Topics include numbers and age, family, colors, feelings, classroom materials, buildings, the weather, months, likes and dislikes, telling time, prepositions and simple descriptive adjectives. 

Children play board games, engage in an ongoing exploration of Paris, and celebrate Mardi Gras with crepes and mask making. Other projects include "The Lemon Festival" from the south of France.




In third grade, students continue to learn Spanish as they explore Spanish-speaking countries such as Argentina, Peru and Columbia. Students navigate the geography of South America, illustrate Iguazu Falls in Argentina and recite a poem they memorize about the waterfall. In Lima, Peru, students visit the Plaza de Armas and compare the city square with their own town or city center.  As they tour Colombia, students learn about pets, animals at the zoo, farm animals and animals in the jungle. This unit of study is always a favorite with the children! They gain additional vocabulary to speak about the places, people, and experiences of their daily lives. Units include the home, the community, school life and after school activities. Children learn to describe friends and family members, to discuss food, the senses, body parts, and healthy habits. By the end of the year they can name the months of the year, and engage in simple conversations about the weather and the seasons. Special projects include a Hispanic Day of the Dead project and a Columbian salsa dance lesson.

Fine Arts


Lower School drama allows children to make discoveries about themselves and others through games, focused exercises, and fun activities. In third through fifth grade, students explore characters in more depth. They practice methods for making actions seem real, and they learn more about the process of making a play come to life on stage. 

Visual Arts

Students in third through fifth grade continue to build foundational skills using a variety of media. Most of their projects are designed to complement the curriculum in science, literature, and social studies: inventor sculptures, arabesque pillows, clay candle houses (a highlight of the fourth grade!) environmental painting and representations of the natural world, Egyptian and Greek arts are a few of the beautiful works our students produce during these years. 


Music in the Lower School is based on the Kodály Concept, a comprehensive, sequential, experience-based program used to develop basic musical skills and to teach the reading and writing of music. From lullabies, childhood chants, folk songs, singing games and dances, to the art music of master composers, students sing, move, listen, and respond to an ever-increasing repertoire of music, from which musical elements and concepts to be learned are derived. 

Physical Education

At Foote, we believe in nurturing our students’ physical health and growth as well as their academic progress. With that philosophy as a guiding force, our physical education program is designed to support students’ self-image, build sportsmanship, and provide a basis for a healthy lifelong attitude toward fitness. Our curriculum is carefully sequenced to match the stages of physical, social, and emotional development from year to year. In addition to athletic skills, our program encourages creative expression, builds social concepts such as sportsmanship, cooperation, and fair play, offers opportunities for leadership, encourages children to take risks, and fosters a sense of well-being in a non-competitive setting.

All children at Foote School are members of either the Maroon or Grey sports teams. Spirit is high on our annual Field Day, when students participate in a variety of fun and competitive events between the Maroon and the Grey. Kindergarteners take part only in the morning, competing in a fun run, a scoop relay, and a shuttle relay. All the other students participate in a full day of events, culminating in an all-school relay race around the entire field, featuring the day’s winners of the 60-yard dash from each grade. 

The Lower School physical education program provides opportunities for students to express themselves through movement. In the primary grades, classes focus on fine and gross motor skills, balance, spatial awareness, flexibility, endurance, strength and coordination. Activities are lively and fun, making use of a wide variety of equipment, ranging from bean bags to beach balls, whiffle bats, scoops, and foam paddles. 

Competition is kept to a minimum and cooperative games are included in most lessons. The 3rd-5th grade program encourages students to build endurance through a gradually increasing running challenge, which culminates in a one-mile run. Also in these later elementary grades, team sports are introduced, along with the concept of rules and sport-specific skills.

In Kindergarten through fifth grade, all three sections of the class participate in gym together, allowing the teachers to divide the group into different configurations. Third through fifth have gym four times in each cycle.