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

Somerville Public Schools uses the Balanced Literacy approach to best address the needs of all students. This approach involved mini-lessons about key reading skills, frequent and in-depth discussions, exposure to high-quality literature and non-fiction texts, and the reading of books at each student's own level. See the Somerville Curriculum website for a video and more information

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, non-fiction, 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 non-fiction 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 ( ex. action, dialogue, questions)
  • Using a variety of closings to tie up a piece (ex. what I learned, why it's important)
  • Choosing alternative words for said in dialogue (ex. 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 (ex. 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, sending a thank you note, or a letter to family or friends


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 10x10
  • 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, figuring out a tip at a restaurant
  • Practice newly acquired skills with your child at home to help build confidence (ex. math facts, addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division)

Science, Technology, and Engineering

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

  • Identifying rocks and minerals and explaining the properties of each
  • Explaining how rocks and soil are created
  • Identifying plant structures
  • Explaining life cycles and adaptations of plants
  • Identifying the parts of the solar system
  • Explaining the reasons for day and night on the earth's surface
  • Recognizing that sound can travel through solids, liquids, or gases, but not through completely empty space
  • Explaining how vibration and pitch affect sound
  • Identifying the properties (weight, strength, hardness, and flexibility) or different kinds of materials (natural materials, e.g. wood)

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 Somerville Public Schools are committed to maintaining a safe and secure learning environment in order to maximize student learning. To this end, the District strives to support students in developing the knowledge, skills, and attitude needed to:

  • Effectively communicate their needs, interests, and opinions
  • Make healthy choices
  • Respect the needs, interests, and opinions of others

--Social Competency Vision Statement, approved by the Somerville School Committee on 10/15/2007

Schools guidance counselors and other support personnel assist teachers and students to work towards attaining these goals. The 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.

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 9 week swim program at the Kennedy School pool.

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 MAP ( Gr. 2-8), but also more informal assessments including common end of unit assessments, reading/writing conferences, classroom participation, classroom projects, and writing assignments.

Grade 3 Curriculum Guide for Parents & Guardians