Third Grade

Third grade students at Open Window School tackle over-arching questions such as: what is culture, how does culture influence who we are, and what can we learn about ourselves by studying cultures around the world. With a curricular focus on understanding culture, people and places, and environments and how they interrelate, students engage in hands-on experiences and investigation that foster problem solving and design thinking. Open Window School third graders employ their strong foundation of reading and writing skills to learn about the world around them and expand their global perspective. Lessons are taught in small groups, allowing students to work and learn at their appropriate skill level. In classrooms where it is safe to take risks, Open Window third graders build a repertoire of 21st Century skills including collaboration, critical thinking, communication and creativity. The third grade program is organized to include a consistent morning routine, core subjects and specialist classes. It includes daily activities that emphasize social and emotional skills.

Language Arts

Building on a solid foundation of reading and writing skills developed in earlier grades, third graders thrive in the Language Arts program that is designed to nourish literacy at all levels. Language arts concepts are integrated throughout the core disciplines in the third grade curriculum. Students’ reading skills are assessed using the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System early in the year and also through ongoing reading conferences. The third grade reading program incorporates the study of Junior Great Books, with a strong focus on developing critical thinking skills. Independent reading and shared reading, which involve literature sharing circles, are additional components of this program. Students continue to engage in phonics building lessons that are selected depending on each student’s need and ability, supported by Words Their Way word study.
Third grade students are becoming independent writers, and are provided the instruction and skill development to make this a priority. Students view themselves as creative, competent writers, eager to share their ideas with an audience. Writing occurs daily and is integrated throughout the curriculum, including writing journals, reader response activities, reading journals, and Handwriting Without Tears cursive lessons. Communication skills are emphasized through class discussions, cooperative group experiences, and personal interactions.
Curriculum Resources
  • Six Trait Writing
  • Handwriting Without Tears
  • Daily Language Review
  • Reading and Writing Workshop Model
  • Junior Great Books
  • Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System


Blogs, lab reports and hands-on projects are an integral part of third grade science. Building on their knowledge of the scientific process, third graders engage in activities such as Stop a Storm Surge Project and Airplane Company Contest. Students learn about the scientific principles behind air density and temperature thrust lift as they study the high-interest topic of Aeronautics. Investigations also include the study of Weather and Earth, Taxonomy, and Life Science. These topics are integrated with homeroom projects and activities. This is also a time for students to develop their ability to create their own experiments, engage in peer review, and defend their work to their classmates.


Our lower school students are also supported with many special classes each week including: art, drama, physical education, music, science, Spanish, Library Learning Commons and technology. To find out more about specialists, visit the K-4 specialist page.


Based on students’ understanding, readiness and skill levels, differentiated and flexible math groupings are utilized to teach math. Using enVision Math and supplemental enrichment materials, math instruction is differentiated according to students’ needs and abilities math instruction includes hands-on, experiential activities that both build foundational math skills as well as ask students to use their math skills to extend and deepen concepts. Assessment is ongoing and informs the content and pacing of the math instruction. Groups are created depending upon skills students need to learn or practice, and groups may be flexible depending upon the unit, activity or project.
Curriculum Resources
  • enVision Math
  • Exemplars
  • Math for Love

Social Studies

Instruction in mapping skills introduces third grade students to a year-long focus on culture, people, places, and environments. Students investigate the definition of culture and how cultural assumptions impact one’s point of view. A study of major global holidays and celebrations, representing many diverse world groups, leads to comprehensive compare and contrast activities. Third graders also research United States regions, learning how environment influences cultural traditions. History, geography, economics and citizenship are recurring strands throughout this study. Time for Kids introduces and facilitates an understanding of current events as it relates to the student and the world. Design Thinking projects are another integral part of our curriculum that promotes our students’ creative and problem-solving skills. Students move through realistic design phases (research, interviewing, drafting, building prototypes, etc.) to create a product that meets the needs of a peer or real-world client. For example, in our unit on tiny homes students research the tiny-home movement in various tangible ways and create designs to meet the needs of a specific family. Building prototype models of these homes using makerspace supplies is always an exciting conclusion to this unit!
Curriculum Resources
  • Time for Kids
  • Culture Grams
  • Peter Menzel’s Material World: A Global Family Portrait

Social & Emotional

In Lower School, social and emotional learning instruction (SEL) is taught formally by teachers and counselors twice weekly, however this learning about self and others takes place organically throughout the entire school day and in all environments as students and teachers interact with one another. Year by year, the program builds with SEL concepts relevant to the needs of our students. Lessons are intentionally designed for students to develop respect for themselves and others, gain emotional awareness and control, learn effective communication skills, and set and achieve their academic goals.
Formal SEL lessons take place through 30 minute meetings that bring students into a circle for a range of experiences including classroom instruction, group discussions, reflections, role-play, community building activities, problem solving, and a variety of mindfulness practices including guided imagery, relaxation and yoga. These meetings provide time for students to learn and practice new skills, while simultaneously developing an understanding of what it means to be both an individual and a group member. These skills are necessary for school success, and they are also necessary for life success.
In first through fourth grades students continue to address topics that are age appropriate and applicable to their needs. They learn critical interpersonal skills such as “I- statements” and finding win/win solutions. They compare and assess the value of different communication styles such as assertive, passive-aggressive, etc., and discuss how these styles help or hinder problem-solving efforts. Social awareness is emphasized through lessons that foster perspective taking skills and develop increased empathy for others. We also provide activities that promote self-awareness and self-management. Students learn about character traits such as gratitude and persistence, along with Executive Function skills such as flexibility, planning and organization, and impulse control. They practice Mindfulness techniques to develop their attention, concentration and sense of well-being.