Different genres are read including biographies, historical fiction, realistic fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and fantasy. Trade books are used throughout the year to teach and emphasize comprehension skills such as: main idea and details, cause and effect, compare and contrast, predicting outcomes, drawing conclusions, problem and solution, summarizing, critical reading, fact and opinion. Literary skills are also emphasized such as: story elements, figurative language, dialogue, vocabulary, sound devices (rhyme, alliteration, etc.) Grammar units include sentence sense, types of sentences, subjects and predicates, capitalization, punctuation, parts of speech (nouns, verbs, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs), sentence and paragraph revision. Writing projects complement reading units, and the writing process is emphasized throughout the year. Journals and various projects such as narratives, letters, poems, advertisements, descriptions and comparison articles are written. Spelling generalizations, prefixes, suffixes, endings, possessives, contractions, antonyms, synonyms, context clues, and syllabication are emphasized. Words introduced on Monday with practice work during the week are then tested on Friday. A review of phonics skills taught in previous grades (consonants, short and long vowels, syllables, consonant blends and digraphs, word structure, suffixes and prefixes) is also utilized.
Third Grade students learn to identify place value to the millions and round these numbers. They also learn to add and subtract multi-digit whole and decimal numbers with regrouping. Multiplication of three-digit multiplicands with two digit multipliers is also taught. Students practice division with two-digit divisors and three-digit dividends. A geometry unit is also introduced where they learn to identify geometric shapes and design their own tessellations.
The major themes in science are studied each year in the lower school including: classification, change over time, energy, engineering design, forces and interactions, measurement, problem solving/process/scientific methods, structure and function, systems, and collaborative discovery through hands-on explorations. In third grade, units incorporating these themes include, rocks and minerals, ecosystems, force and motion, chemistry, simple machines, inventions, and the engineering process. In addition, each student takes a turn being a Science Wizard by selecting an experiment and presenting it to his/her peers. Students also participate in Genius Hour, a program that begins with a topic of inquiry followed by research and creation of a prototype.
The study of the regions of the United States encompasses the location of each region, states in each region, famous people and places, and geographic "wonders." Map skills include locating states on the U.S. map, distinguishing between a city, a state, a country, and a continent, applying directional words, using map legends and scales, and identifying different land and water forms. By the end of the year, the students identify all the states and capitals on the U.S. map. The study of Maryland includes an awareness of the beginning of our colony until the present, noting people from Maryland as they connect to the history of the U.S. and the geographic features of the state.
The 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade Chinese curriculum has a spiral design so that increased detail, rigor, and scope are added to similar themes of study each subsequent school year. The classes are proficiency-oriented with a focus on conversational Chinese and meaningful communication with the Chinese-speaking community. Each month is a themed-unit so that students first understand and then produce the language. Students start by recognizing and responding to the instructor and each other in Chinese. Gradually, students begin to use the words independently within an appropriate conversational context. This transition happens naturally as the curriculum spirals and builds on previous learning from unit to unit and grade level to grade level. The Chinese writing system will be introduced during the second semester of 3rd grade and writing instruction includes recognizing specific radicals within each Chinese character.
Students work to achieve a more natural level of greeting and basic conversation. Focus is on child directed dialogues, pronunciation, and an introduction to basic reading and writing in Spanish. Units of study include identifying objects, describing people, and mastering colors, shapes, numbers to 100, weather, science experiments, and family members. Students practice vocabulary by singing, dancing, and reciting poems. Students also use Spanish websites and flip charts to increase learning. Students complete projects on topics including animals, homes, and Spanish speaking countries.