The Grade 3 curriculum builds on the natural curiosity of a child at this age. Questions of the origins of things are delved into in a variety of ways. From reading the tales of the Old Testament to building a small barn, third graders at Hawthorne Valley approach their learning from perspectives as varied as their interests. The curriculum lends itself toward action, be it the practical skill of farming, the weighing and measuring of objects, or the active process of grammatical word selection.
“On Children” by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
This poem speaks to the third graders’ development — the children are on the brink of the nine-year change, when they begin to question authority, goodness, religion and almost everything in their worlds! It is a lovely way to see this time in a child’s life and we work, through our curriculum, to support the child in this time of growth and maturation.
The students engage in daily recitations and speech work. They use the Old Testament portion of the Bible as a text to prepare some work in Hebrew. This work, while not presented as historically factual, provides a window into literature of a specific era.
They learn numerous poems and speech exercises from a variety of sources. The class play contains a large amount of choral work that all of the students need to commit to memory. The children hear many stories and are asked to read aloud. They are also encouraged to read quietly in their own books, which are chosen according to their particular reading levels and interests.
The students begin their journey into the world of grammar by learning parts of speech. Nouns become “picture words” and verbs are “doing words.” They begin to see how a series of sentences can be grouped and connected to form a paragraph. They create and play games, write sentences, and come to a clear understanding that many words sound the same but have very different meanings. Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are also part of the grammar work.
Throughout the year the class continues to work with all four processes: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They continue to work regularly with the times tables and the complexity of problems advances within each of the processes. The class is introduced to long division and practices multiplying large numbers. They use practical applications of these skills as much as possible.
Weights and Measures
In the study of measurement, the students come to know our world much better by “doing” mathematics. There is often great delight as the students make measuring tools. Having new tools, they move about the classroom measuring each other and themselves and expand the skill to measuring their greater environment.
The third graders delve into the earth in the farming block which includes a week-long overnight trip to the Hawthorne Valley farm. Both on paper and with their hands, the children discover the “beginnings” of the food that eventually reaches our tables. Students may witness the birth of a calf; they crush grain and use the flour to make food for the whole class. They learn how to make maple syrup, going through all the steps in the process, and they use the syrup on pancakes made by their classmates. The children learn how difficult it is to work the land, and they come away with a greater understanding of the food we eat.
German and Spanish
The students learn many verses, poems, songs, rounds, and games. They engage in one-on-one conversation about themselves and others, answering in complete sentences. The rules of grammar are explored but not yet memorized intellectually. The children work in a foreign-language book, creating seasonal pictures, or pictures relating to verses and songs that they have learned.
Having been engaged in knitting and crocheting for the past two years, the third graders learn to handle one of the sharpest tools, the sewing needle. Greater self-awareness and awareness of the world around them are part of the development of this age. Great care is called for and judgment is exercised when spacing the stitches evenly. Hand/eye coordination is strengthened as various decorative stitches are explored and practiced. The variety of projects completed by the third graders helps them gain greater awareness of the versatility, resourcefulness, and intelligence of the human hand.
The class makes the transition from the pentatonic flutes of the first two grades to the new and more difficult C-flutes. The students are introduced to reading music through a story related to the third-grade curriculum. By the end of the year, many students have a basic understanding of how to read music. Throughout the year they also sing on a regular basis. Some students in the class begin private lessons with orchestral instruments which will prepare them for orchestra work in grade 4.
The third graders learn to understand and move spatial forms in connection with poetry, stories, and music. More complex forms are moved to spoken language and music. The movements for different sounds are further developed, and the children enjoy learning how to “spell” their names in eurythmy. The lessons include rhythm exercises, concentration exercises, harmonizing and calming slow walking, mirror forms, and other exercises for dexterity, flexibility, and coordination.
The third graders play many tag games. They begin to build more complicated rules into games, and fair play is stressed. Games usually incorporate discussions about team play.