3rd Grade

Becoming independent learners

In third grade, students dive deep into topics of interest with faculty guidance along the way. They have acquired a strong reading and writing foundation and are ready to take it to the next level! Third grade at MVS focuses on research projects, of which there are three: two group and one independent research project. During this process, their thinking deepens and their knowledge of subject matters widens.

In conjunction with the research projects, third graders learn all about community: their Dayton community, international communities, and wild animal communities. They develop strong personal relationships with the community they live in and are exposed to different cultures, backgrounds, and mindsets.

By the time our students enter fourth grade, they have established a strong sense of what it means to be an independent learner and are ready to continue a rigorous academic program with increased ownership over their learning.



In third grade, students are still continue with the concept of “reading to learn,” and teachers begin instruction on non-fiction and place an emphasis on reading comprehension, both of which flow nicely with the literature used in their three research projects.

Our grade teachers continue meeting with students in groups and they’re now beginning to use their high level thinking to make and support a claim based on their reading. During group time, students have a discussion around a book they’ve all read together—over a two or three week time period. Because students are reading longer books, they’re learning the importance of time management with their nightly readings.

Rich book discussion and with peers and regular reading projects give our students the opportunity to own their ideas in a space where every voice is heard and valued.

Connecting literature to the grade curriculum becomes even more important in third grade, as there are more opportunities to provide learning connections.

Language Arts

Students in third grade develop a stronger vocabulary and language usage. Their comprehension level increases dramatically and they are able to more fully dig into research projects, which they were introduced to in second grade.

In language arts, our students learn how to make inferences, become familiar with different genres, and begin to have literature-based discussions with their peers. They also learn cursive and by the end of the year are writing everything in cursive. In addition to cursive, we also feel it’s an appropriate time to introduce typing skills. Once a week, our students practice their typing with formal instruction and practice throughout the school year with their research projects, incorporating electronic collaboration through Google Docs.


Singapore Math, our manipulative-based math, continues in third grade, where students are working towards more abstract concepts, fractions and measurement conversion.

Teachers focus their mathematics instruction on higher-level addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. The goal is for them to be proficient in multiplication up to their 12 times tables so they can enter fourth grade having confidence in their multiplication skills.

Third grade is also when we introduce the “Problem of the Week,” which we use as an opportunity for our students to practice their higher level problem solving skills. They have two weeks to work on the assignment and the class then discusses the different types of problem solving strategies.


In third grade, science class increases to three out of every six color days, becoming less of a co-curricular class and more of an additional core class. There are two components of science in third grade: indoor and outdoor science. The scientific skill of observation and classification serve as the focal point for the third grade year. Students explore the life cycle of plants and insects as they observe plant and insect growth in the science lab. They are immersed in astronomy and learn all aspects of our sky, solar system, and galaxy. This Immersive Method portion culminates with the annual Astronomy Overnight on the MVS campus. Third graders become rocket creators, moon rock researchers, luminescence scientists, and artists of constellations. After they roast hot dogs and marshmallows, they locate constellations through a telescope and then sleep with their friends in tents. This is often a first time experience for many.

Environmental science becomes more important in the third-grade science and students are taught what a global citizen looks like and how their decisions make an impact in their community and world.

Our MVS third grade science class is also associated with Cornell University’s ornithology program and our young students use the Bird Blind in the Outdoor Exploration Center to count different bird species and gender, information that Cornell University incorporates in their welfare of birds program.

Social Studies

Since community is a big part of our studies in third grade, we begin the year discussing what a community looks like and launch into our unit on the Dayton community. We discuss the Wright Brothers and others who have made Dayton history so rich. Students go on numerous field trips and become familiar with landmarks, buildings and important Dayton companies, to name a few. This unit culminates in an immersive learning project where all students choose a building or landmark, write a short report, including questions and facts and then use all of this to create their own Monopoly game. Through the game, students teach each other even more about the Dayton research each individual has gathered.

The second group project in third grade includes a Japanese study. Our third graders learn the unique culture through exposure to native animals, poems, folktales, music, books, crafts and more. They compare and contrast their community and culture to Japanese community and culture. This study culminates in a folktale that our own students have written and illustrated.

Finally, the end of the year culminates in an individual research project on wild animals. The social science curriculum during this time is divided into six topics: animal characteristics, habitats, food, enemies and self-protection, babies, and conservation. Students spend the better part of six weeks researching a wild animal of their choice and write a nine page research paper.

World Languages

Third grade marks a turning point in the lower school world language program because students choose either Mandarin or Spanish to study throughout the whole year. Third graders attend two or three classes each week depending on the schedule. The program focuses on both language acquisition skills and culture study. The language skills program builds on the phrases and vocabulary learned in the three previous years to progress on to simple conversations. Through songs, games, role-playing, hands-on activities, projects and performances, the program continues to expose them to good pronunciation skills through listening and speaking and progresses on to introduce a writing and reading component. In addition to the language skills, students continue to develop an awareness of and respect for other cultures with their similarities and differences. Students learn about other cultures through reading non-fiction as well as fiction literature, watching movies, cooking and eating native foods, learning authentic dances or martial arts movements, engaging in art activities and celebrating special holidays. Through a well-rounded program of language and culture in both Spanish and Mandarin, students continue to develop a new perspective of the world and their roles as compassionate global citizens.

Visual Arts

Our third graders are in the art studio every day for a week straight and then alternate with the next week off (when they pursue social studies more intensely). This gives students an opportunity to engage with art in a more concentrated, deeper level every day.

Many longer-term art projects start with drawing, followed by a demonstration of a particular media. Students immerse themselves in the process by adding detail and reflecting on the previous day’s work.

Students often revisit materials and media of their choice throughout the year, and many of the art projects reflect our students’ individual passions and group interests.


Third graders work together as an Orff ensemble group to produce melodies and harmonies through singing, playing instruments and movement occurring at the same time. Students focus on understanding of meter (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 6/9), reading rhythms (16 notes, dotted half notes, dotted quarter notes), singing in canons, melodic notation on the staff, moveable Do solfeggi and folk dances with more advanced steps. They also continue ensemble experiences with more advanced technique for both non-pitched percussion (rhythm sticks, hand drums, etc.) and barred instruments (xylophones, glockenspiels & metallophones), improvisation. At the end of the year, students demonstrate what they have learned in a performance.

Physical Education