Third-grade students should be able to decode most single and two-syllable words (i.e. turn letters into speech sounds) and increasingly decode multi-syllable words. The overall goal this year is to read (aloud and silently) third – grade texts, such as Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books, Laura Ingalls Wilder ‘s Little House in the Big Woods, and third – grade volumes in nonfiction series such as Let’s Read and Find Out and New True Books. Students have frequent possibilities to write. Attention to spelling and penetration continues; children check and correct their own work routinely. Third graders do, among other things, the following:

 Reading and Comprehension

  • independently read longer works of fiction (“chapter books”) and nonfiction
  • orally summarize main points from readings
  • ask and answer what, how, why, and what, if questions about texts
  • use a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words
  • learn to use a table of contents and index
  • read outside of school at least twenty minutes daily


  • write brief stories, reports, poems, letters, descriptions, etc.
  • find information in basic sources (e.g., children’s encyclopedia) to write reports
  • learn letter, writing conventions (e.g., heading, salutation, closing, signature)
  • practice writing paragraphs with a topic sentence, central idea, supporting details
  • practice organizing, drafting, revising, and proofreading their writings

Spelling and Vocabulary

  • get regular practice at spelling and vocabulary enrichment
  • spell most words correctly when writing; use a dictionary to check spellings
  • study the use of prefixes (e.g., re, un, dis) and suffixes (e.g., er, less, ly)
  • practice using homophones correctly (e.g., by, buy; to, too, two)
  • recognize common abbreviations (e.g., St., U.S.A., ft.)

Grammar and Usage

  • distinguish complete sentences from fragments; identify subjects and predicates
  • identify and use declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences
  • study use of nouns, pronouns (singular and plural), verbs (action and helping), adjectives (including articles a, an, the), and adverbs
  • know how to use: period, question mark, exclamation point, comma (in dates; addresses; in a series; after yes and no), apostrophe (in contractions and possessive nouns)
  • recognize and avoid the double negative Literature
  • read and listen to poems such as Isaac Watts’s “The Bee,” Lewis Carroll’s “The Crocodile,” Ogden Nash’s “Adventures of Isabel”
  • read and listen to stories such as “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl,” “The People Could Fly” (African-American tale)
  • read and listen to nonfiction prose (e.g., books about famous scientists)
  • read myths from Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology (e.g., “Cupid and Psyche,” “Horatius at the Bridge,” “The Death of Balder”)
  • learn more literary terms (e.g., biography, autobiography, fiction, nonfiction)
  • tell and write their own stories

(drawn from the Core Knowledge Sequence)

In a good third grade classroom, you might see children:

  • after hearing the legend of “Androcles and the Lion,” taking turns telling about a time when they were a good friend to someone
  • writing reports on a recent field trip to an aquarium, and then reading them to the class
  • writing their own endings to the African tale of Makulu after the teacher reads the first part aloud
  • pointing out the subjects and predicates in sentences they’ve written
  • rewriting sentences by substituting pronouns for nouns (“When Jim saw the ball, Jim reached and caught the ball.”)
  • listening to a local poet talk to the class about how she writes poems

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