Grade III Thematic Study: Whales / Central Subject: Whaling
The Whole Child
Naturally embedded in any academic curriculum are human themes. In keeping with Shady Hill traditions, in all subjects we integrate themes regarding character, values, respect for self and others, and the responsibility children have as members of the community.
Developmentally, third graders begin to think beyond themselves and are ready to understand their importance as members of a larger group. Daily work in the classroom supports this growth, including activities such as self-reflection work, portfolio assessment, and agenda meetings.
Thematic Study: Whales
During the first semester, students study the characteristics of mammals and the evolution, behavior, anatomy, physiology, and conservation of whales. Students learn the differences between sub-orders and species of whales. They develop their knowledge through hands-on experiments, art projects, group discussions, and research activities. We conclude our study with a Whale Assembly.
Central Subject: Whaling
In the second part of the year, we focus on the whaling industry of the 19th century. Topics of study include life aboard a ship, whalers’ families, techniques of hunting and processing whales, and the tools of the trade. The students learn about this time in history primarily through reading, writing, and role-play as they enact a semester-long whaling voyage. As they travel, they learn about the geography, customs, and whaling practices of several whaling cultures. We make use of authentic 19th century journals, more recent texts, videos, internet sources, demonstrations, and field trips.
Partial Bibliography: Zoobooks, Whales; Carwardine, Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises; Smyth, Crystal, The Story of a Real Baby Whale; Lingemann, Beluga Passage; Whipple, The Whalers; McKissack, Black Hands, White Sails; Cobblestone magazine; “The Seafaring Life;” “Whaling in America;” “Blacks in Whaling”; Stansfield, The Legend of the Whale; Siberell, Whale In The Sky; Steiner, Whale Brother; Souci, Song of Sedna; Schuch, A Symphony of Whales; Carrick, Whaling Days; Demas, If I Ever Return Again; Day, John Tabor’s Ride; Stanley, The True Adventure of Daniel Hall; Hofmeyr, Do The Whales Still Sing?; Holling, Seabird; Eisner, illustrated adaptation of Moby Dick; Frederick, The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed; Rivera, Tuk and the Whale, Roop, Good Bye for Today: The Diary of a Young Girl at Sea
Language Arts in Grade III
A set of B-VIII Grade standards provides the framework for our work in language arts. Below are listed some of the goals we have for third grade students in Language Arts.
- Read grade level text fluently and with adequate phrasing and expression
- Choose books at an appropriate level for independent reading
- Summarize main points from fiction and informational text
- Distinguish between fact and opinion
- Make inferences and predictions
- Use a variety of sentence structures to enhance writing
- Use dialogue in narrative writing
- Use conventional spelling and punctuation in written work
Mathematics in Grade III
The mathematics program in third grade and across grade levels in the Lower School encourages children to construct their own mathematical knowledge through meaningful learning experiences. Students solve problems, develop sound reasoning, communicate their mathematical thinking in written and oral forms, make connections to mathematical ideas and real-life experiences, and construct different representations of mathematical concepts. The third grade mathematics program emphasizes both practical and theoretical aspects. All five content strands of mathematics are taught; number sense and operations, data analysis, and probability, measurement, geometry, and algebra. Manipulative materials and games are used to further mathematical understanding, to develop mathematical understanding, to develop visual discrimination with respect to shape, size, and other attributes, and to further develop pattern recognition and problem solving skills. Manipulative materials include Cuisenaire rods, place value chips, geoboards, geomirrors, tangrams, Unifex cubes, and pattern blocks.
Science In Grade III
(Three 50-minute classes per cycle)
Science is an integral part of the thematic study of whales, and the Science Department acts as a resource to the gradeheads in gathering information used in the classrooms. In addition to this, students have classes three times per cycle in the Science Building. Activities encourage students to enhance their observational and experimental techniques and collaborate with their classmates. The topics covered include: size and scale, ancient life, echolocation, whale food, how animals stay warm in water, navigation, weather and how it affects the oceans, ocean currents, and conservation. Students also undertake a number of STEM projects in which students combine math topics with engineering to among other things, design and build model boats, build insulated bags, and model ocean floor mapping.
Art in Grade III
(Two 50-minute classes per cycle for half the year)
The Third grade studio classes are introduced to the basic materials of the studio and are encouraged to experiment and explore through ongoing projects. They have instruction in drawing in a variety materials, painting with tempera and water color, as well as collage and some three dimensional sculpting in clay. Emphasis is placed on developing skills, confidence with materials, and self-expression.
Library in Grade III
(One 50-minute class per cycle)
Third graders grow in their independence as they use the library and discover books that interest and challenge them. During each class the librarian introduces students to a variety of chapter books that may be of interest for check out, and guides students in finding and choosing books on their own. The year also includes an in-depth study of the ways in which picture books work, focusing on the tools an author and illustrator use to tell a story. Students consider the connection between pictures and text, theme, the use of color, the expression of mood and tone, symbolism, and story elements such as circular endings and interconnected stories. This study includes Caldecott Award student that culminates in our own Mock Caldecott. Through exposure to a variety of different books students learn to use the library and develop a love of reading.
Music in Grade III
(Two 50-minute classes per cycle)
Third Graders review the rhythmic and melodic skills they learned the previous year, and develop new skills in the areas of singing, listening, playing instruments, movement and sight-reading music. Students are expected to be consistent participants in all activities. They listen to a wide variety of music and are encouraged to find their singing voice. Vocal development activities focus on pitch matching, blending head and chest voice, singing with correct breath support and developing their “inner ear”. Throughout the year they learn songs from a variety of cultures and styles for lower school and all-school assemblies. Children increase their skill and confidence in singing and maintaining a harmonic vocal line. In connection to their thematic studies in the classroom, they learn a number of songs about whales, which are then shared at their fall Whale Assembly. In the second half of the year, when they begin studying whaling, they learn some sea shanties and sailor dances. Soprano recorder is emphasized as a classroom instrument, and students learn some of the pitches and melodies in the G pentatonic scale (B-A-G-E-D). Orff instruments frequently accompany class songs, and children will learn to read and play a variety of rhythmic patterns and ostinati. They learn to identify how music is rhythmically and melodically organized and what makes it expressive. In the spring, the sea shanties and sailor dances they’ve learned are incorporated into an original class play about whaling and whales.
Physical Education in Grade III
(Four 50-minute classes per cycle.)
A major focus in third and fourth grade physical education is the development of a healthy attitude toward all types of physical activities. Students refine basic movement techniques as they learn to use them confidently, safely, and competently in increasingly complex situations. Through performance outcomes, students achieve and demonstrate mature forms of the basic locomotor, non-locomotor, and manipulative skills. In our classes, students use sports skills in combination with each other in dynamic, complex environments. Students acquire specialized skills fundamental to a movement form (i.e., basketball chest pass, throw and catch with a lacrosse stick, fielding in whiffle ball) and begin to acknowledge transferable skills, applying them elsewhere.
In third grade, students begin to learn that participation in a physical activity is a conscious, personal decision, choosing activities both for the enjoyment and the health benefits they derive. Third graders participate in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for increasingly longer periods of time without tiring. We continue to focus on cooperation and communication skills and using them to facilitate completion of a common goal while working with a partner or small diverse groups.
Woodshop in Grade III
(Two 50-minute classes per cycle for half the year)
Each student begins the term by designing a sea creature to be made out of wood. They think about shape and detail and develop skills in planning the construction of their projects. They study the grain in wood and begin to understand its strengths and limitations. Each student makes a template and works towards cutting with accuracy and using shaping and smoothing tools effectively. They are exposed to simple mechanical engineering concepts and can use them in the creation of their products. After this, they make model whaling ships, giving attention to small details and using fine motor skills; they go on to use gross motor skills when they cut and shape oars, build stilts and other projects of their choice.
Lower School Community in Grade III
The entire Lower School (Beginners to Grade IV) meet together in the Assembly Hall from 8:35 to 9:15 Day 3. The music component of assemblies includes community singing, performances by Shady Hill students, and performances by outside musical groups. Music at the assembly extends the music curriculum and deepens students’ understanding of music as cultural expression. Classroom sharing is also an important aspect of assemblies. The emphasis is on sharing works-in-progress from all areas of the Lower School. Preparation for sharing is part of the learning process and sharing in front of a larger group in a safe, supportive environment helps children develop confidence in projecting their voices and effectively presenting their work. Sometimes assemblies are used for performances, such as class productions, Visiting Artist performances, or other outside performers or speakers. Outside presenters come from the arts, sciences, and humanities and make a connection to the wider world.