Third Grade

The third grade is often called the turning point of childhood—a time when the age of dream is passing and a new age of realism is beginning to dawn.

The nine- to ten-year-old threshold represents a very significant step in self-awareness. Children realize they are separate from their surroundings and meet the world as individuals, often resulting in increased questions, self-doubt and wonder.

In this period the child empathizes with stories of the Old Testament, the fall from Eden and man’s first struggles to live in social groups on the earth. At this age, children are very interested in the origin of things. They want to discover new ways of doing things in the world and imagine themselves in very primitive conditions. The practical life is taken up in studies of house building, farming, gardening, cooking and finding out about the jobs people do.

Third Grade Curriculum

Rhythm of the Day

Each day begins with Main Lesson. The main subjects, such as history, language arts, science and mathematics are taught in blocks of 2 hours per day, with each block lasting from 3 to 6 or even 8 weeks long.

For the third grader, the Main Lesson begins with rhythmic movement including rhythmic reciting of song and verse, rhythmic mental math (counting out the times tables) and the rhythmic “mental gymnastics” used in solving puzzles such as “take six, add twelve, subtract nine.”

After Main Lesson the children have a hearty snack (brought from home) and time to play outdoors.

The afternoon consists of subject classes including handwork, movement, french, music and art, as well as lunch (brought from home) and more time to play outdoors.

The qualities of numbers as well as initial practice in the four basic operations of mathematics—addition, multiplication, subtraction and division—are reviewed at the beginning of the year. The rhythms inherent in numbers which give each its character and reveal inner relationships are practiced daily, either through movement exercises in a circle involving clapping and dancing pertaining to individual numbers or to times tables, etc., or sitting at desks. Mental math problems are also practiced, especially in word-problem form, so that the child can become inwardly active and flexible in translating from one language (English) into the other (math).

The times tables and addition tables are practiced orally as in the first two grades, but now rhythmical sequence is gradually abandoned and the tables are taken out of order so that the child may recall the facts freely. Number patterns, such as the repetitive “signatures” of each number, are recalled and demonstrated in the generation of geometric forms, drawn or perhaps woven with yarn. As this is a year preeminently filled with practical experience of basic human vocations, mathematics is experienced through its everyday applications, specifically in time, linear measure, volume and weight. Thus the world is explored through mathematical eyes.

The cycles of time involves the movements of the earth, moon and sun against the background of the constellations. The monthly calendar is studied. The reading of the clock as well as a history of time measurement through the evolution of clocks is taken up. Linear and volume measurement are related to its source in the human body, then expanding into the world through measuring with rulers, and other tools, as well as in baking using teaspoons, and measuring cups. Weight, and its measurement by hand or on scales, is also taken up. Through all, exercises in math are practiced.

The introduction of grammar begins in an imaginative way wherein the qualities of the various parts of speech are determined experientially prior to any abstract designation. For example, nouns are called “naming words”; verbs are called “doing words”; adjectives are called “picture or color words”; and adverbs are called “how words.” These are drawn, enacted, and recited in verse. Paragraph structure, sentence structure, and punctuation are also introduced imaginatively. The material worked within grammar arises out of the experiences of previous blocks of study; for example, out of the Old Testament stories, nature studies, farming or house building, and also field trips.

Once the capitals and minuscule have been presented and worked with, cursive handwriting is introduced and used alongside the other forms of writing. Weekly spelling tests are given in which specific phonemes, blends, and whole-word similarities are emphasized.

Reading practice is done with the class as a whole as well as in specific reading groups. Reading practice occurs during practice periods once or twice during the week. Extra tutoring is available as needed.

Recitation of seasonal or occasional verses, tongue twisters, speech exercises and riddles are also employed as experiential agents of the genius of language.

Painting occurs in a practice period during the week, although it can be part of the morning lesson if, for instance, the Seven Days of Creation are being painted. Building upon the experience of the primary color qualities, the secondary colors are introduced. Scenes from Biblical stories or the farming life are painted as well as ones from the child’s own fantasy.

Musically, the children begin to use the diatonic flute and also a stringed instrument. In addition to the daily flute lessons and regular weekly ensemble lessons, the children may also begin private lessons. Seasonal and occasional songs are sung daily, and rounds are introduced.

Drama is used to embody many of the concepts inherent in the study of language and mathematics. This will take the form of short in-class skits throughout the year. Sometime during the year a class play is performed for the whole school body. The children learn the art of acting, speaking, set building and production.

During first and second grade the children are told a series of detailed nature stories that embody the science that they will later be directly exposed to. These nature stories are vivid, illustrative pictures of the processes of plants, animals and the natural world.

In the third grade this process is expanded out into an exploration of the natural world of gardening and farming. The children learn to identify grains; become aware of natural cycles, especially in relation to the seasons; make compost; and plant and care for a garden. The children work with animals at a farm to discover what products they provide. Local plants and trees are identified. In addition, a central part of the third grade spring work is the creation of a building project. This project allows the children to actively engage in the work needed to create a building. In past years children have constructed walls, garden sheds, a log cabin, a hen house and a bread oven.

Geography begins with humans on earth, relating them to their surroundings. House building is the focus of geographical study. Types of housing are studied with reference to the environment and human vocations. Construction materials are examined. The children may construct models of various domiciles of the world, and a written description of the process can be appended.

Field trips are taken throughout the year with reference to the particular block of study. Farms and building sites are visited, and at the end of the year a longer class trip is taken to a farm to more fully experience farm life.

Homework usually takes the form of projects, such as the model house-building project, measuring things at home, or interviewing parents as to what their dream house might be. Weekly spelling words are studied.