Parents and Guardians

This guide provides an overview of what your child will be learning in third grade. It is based on the Common Core Standards, the Massachusetts Frameworks, and the curricular approaches which have been adopted by the Somerville Public Schools. The detailed Massachusetts Frameworks are available at:

Academic standards are important. They ensure that all students, no matter where they start, are prepared for success in the next grade level, college, and their careers. By defining standards clearly, we aim to help families and teachers work together to ensure that students succeed. There are some students who will need additional support to meet a standard. Other students will need more complex work to go beyond the standard. Teachers craft their day-to-day classroom instruction based on the standards, individual student needs, and the unique characters of their schools and community.

How can I support my child's learning at home?

  • Talk to your child about what they are learning in school
  • Contact your child's teacher with any questions or concerns and attend Parent Teach Conferences
  • Check your child's folder and/or agenda book every night
  • provide a space and a consistent time for your child to complete their homework

English Language Arts

Reading - During the year, students in the third grade will be working on:

  • Getting to know the characters in stories by reading deeply to learn about a character's thoughts, words, or actions
  • Identifying elements of fiction (characters, setting, plot, problem, solution) to help make predictions and follow the story
  • Using specific evidence from a text to develop ideas and opinions about characters
  • Using multiple strategies such as previewing, asking questions, and visualizing to carefully read and comprehend different types of text (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry)
  • Finding the main idea of a text and identifying the supporting details
  • Using new topic-specific vocabulary as they discuss and write about their nonfiction reading
  • Noticing how poets play with words and sounds to enrich the meaning of the poem
  • Determining why an author writes and what message s/he wants to communicate
  • Reading biographies and recognizing how the time, place, and events of a person's life affect the choices s/he makes
  • Recognizing that folktales (fairytales, fables, myths, legends) are stories that can teach a lesson, explain a natural phenomenon, or explain the greatness of a legendary character
  • Engaging in discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) on topics and texts, building on others' ideas, and explaining their own ideas clearly
  • Reading stories and poems aloud fluently, without pausing to figure out what each word means

Writing - Somerville's writing program emphasizes giving students many opportunities to write each day across subject areas. As they write during the year, students in the third grade will be working on:

  • Organizing ideas about a topic by writing three connected paragraphs
  • Using linking words to connect ideas (therefore, since, for example, also, another, yet, nor)
  • Using a variety of leads to pull in the reader (for example, action, dialogue, questions)
  • Using a variety of closings to tie up a piece (for example, what I learned, why it's important)
  • Choosing alternative words for said in dialogue (for example, responded, exclaimed, muttered)
  • Using examples and details that are accurate and make writing and thinking clear
  • Using vivid verbs to make writing interesting to the reader (for example, sprinted instead of ran; wandered instead of went)
  • Using quotation marks and commas when writing dialogue
  • Using apostrophes in contractions and possessives
  • Correctly spelling words for third-grade level using resources if needed
  • Correctly using "I" and "me"
  • Keeping the same tense (present, past, or future) throughout the piece

Over the course of the year, students will complete three types of writing: narrative (story), informative, and opinion. Examples of these in third grade could include: writing about the central message of a story using evidence, writing a research report (biography) about a famous person, or writing a story in the form of a myth. 

How can I support my child's literacy learning at home?

  • Encourage your child to read daily and discuss the texts he/she is reading
  • When your child shares an opinion or thought about a book, ask them why? and have them use evidence from the book
  • Encourage your child to write by keeping a diary, or sending a thank you note or a letter to a family member or friend


Adapted from PTA Common Core Guide and Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks Critical Areas. Please see the Massachusetts Frameworks for more detailed standards and skills.

During the year, students in the third grade will be working on:

  • Solving word problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division
  • Beginning to multiply numbers with more than one digit (e.g., multiplying 9 x 80)
  • Memorizing multiplication facts up to 10 x 10
  • Solving division problems using knowledge of multiplication (e.g., if 9 x 5 = 45, then 45 ÷ 5 = 9)
  • Rounding numbers to the nearest 10 to 100
  • Understanding fractions and relating them to the familiar systems of whole numbers (e.g., recognizing that 3/1 and 3 are the same number)
  • Comparing fractions and recognizing equivalent fractions (1/2 = 4/8)
  • Measuring and estimating lengths, weights, and liquid volumes, and solving word problems involving these qualities
  • Reasoning about shapes (e.g., all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares)
  • Telling time to the nearest minute
  • Solving problems using information in bar graphs
  • Finding areas of shapes, and relating area to multiplication (e.g., why is the number of square feet for a 9-foot by 7-foot room given by the product 9 x 7?)

How can I support my child's math learning at home?

  • Point out examples of using math in everyday life such as using fractions while measuring ingredients for a recipe, estimating the cost of items at a store, or figuring out a tip at a restaurant
  • Practice newly acquired skills with your child at home to help build confidence (for example, math facts, addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division)

Science, Technology, and Engineering

During the year, students in the third grade will be learning about:

  • How multiple forces act on an object and some of these are seen and unseen (for example, friction)
  • That forces can be balanced (doesn’t change the motion of an object) or unbalanced (changes the motion of an object)
  • That magnetic forces between two magnets change depending on distance and positioning
  • That scientists use fossils to learn about life and environments that existed long ago
  • How in certain environments some organisms can survive well, less well, or not at all
  • That environmental changes can affect the ability of organisms to survive or reproduce
  • How the variations in characteristics among individuals within the same species can provide advantages in survival
  • That plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exist in a group of similar organisms
  • That different types of organisms have unique and diverse life cycles
  • That the climate of different regions of the world vary and that typical weather conditions over a year vary by region
  • That we can create solutions that reduce the damage caused by weather

Social Studies

During the year, students in the third grade will be learning about:

  • The Pilgrims, Puritans, and Wampanoag
  • Massachusetts' events leading to the America Revolution-Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Battle of Lexington and Concord, Battle of Bunker Hill
  • Biographies of Massachusetts' leaders
  • Somerville history
  • Geography - cardinal directions, hemispheres, continents, and oceans
  • The physical geography of New England and Massachusetts


The elementary years are an important time to nurture social-emotional competence and develop foundational learning skills. The Somerville Public Schools uses the Second Step curriculum, an evidence-based program that includes everything schools need to integrate social-emotional learning into their classrooms and school-wide. The curriculum is designed to promote school success, self-regulation, and a sense of safety and support.

Classroom teachers are responsible for implementing Second Step. Schools guidance counselors and other support personnel assist teachers and students to work toward attaining curriculum goals. Staff at your child's school can give you more detailed information about the sequence of skills taught and how social/emotional skills are taught.

3rd Grade Lessons

Unit 1: Skill for Learning

1. Being Respectful Learners
2. Using Self-Talk
3. Being Assertive
4. Planning to Learn

Unit 2: Empathy

5. Identifying Others’ Feelings
6. Understanding Perspectives
7. Conflicting Feelings
8. Accepting Differences
9. Showing Compassion
10. Making Friends

Unit 3: Emotion Management

11. Introducing Emotion Management
12. Managing Test Anxiety
13. Handling Accusations
14. Managing Disappointment
15. Managing Anger
16. Managing Hurt Feelings

Unit 4: Problem Solving

17. Solving Problems, Part 1
18. Solving Problems, Part 2
19. Solving Classroom Problems
20. Solving Peer Exclusion Problems
21. Dealing with Negative Peer Pressure
22. Reviewing Second Step Skills 

Specialists: The Somerville Public Schools provides each student with 40 minutes per week of instruction in General Music, Library/Media, Art, and Physical Education. The specialists at each school are available to give you more detailed information about specific skills addressed. Third graders at each school also participate in the swim program at the Ginny Smithers Pool at Kennedy School.

Assessment: We believe that there is more than one way to accurately assess student learning. These include not only standardized measures such as DIBELS (Grades K-3), MCAS (Grades 2-10), and STAR (Gr. 2-8), but also more informal assessments including common end of unit assessments, reading/writing conferences, classroom participation, classroom projects, and writing assignments.

Math and ELA Year At A Glance for Third Grade:

Please note that this calendar is only an approximate guide. Some units might take more or less time depending on the needs of the students and other initiatives happening at individual schools.


Approximate Time


ELA Units of Study (Based on Balanced Literacy Curriculum) Math Units of Study (Based on the Investigations Curriculum)
Early September Launching Readers Workshop
Place Value: 3-Digit Numbers
Equations with Variables
Late September/ October Narrative
Basic Addition / Subtraction Number Combinations
Calculating Perimeter
Elapsed Time
November / December Nonfiction
Basic Multiplication / Division Number Combinations
January Poetry
Multiplication / Division Story Problems
February Poetry
Data: Interpreting and Creating Graphs
March On-Demand Reading
Mixed Numbers
April Nonfiction #2
Strategies for Comparing Fractions
Classifying Polygons
May / June Narrative - Theme
Addition / Subtraction of 3-Digit Numbers

updated 11/2018