By GreatSchools Staff
Third-graders should be writing daily, whether they’re writing stories, answers to word problems, personal narratives, journal entries, scientific observations, or responses to the books they read. Some students even try their hands at science fiction or detective stories.
Third-graders should learn how to use a variety of literary techniques, including dialogue, point of view, and figurative language (similes, metaphors). They should be taught how to write a paragraph with a topic sentence, supporting details, and a conclusion.
Children also learn to write more complex sentences by using transitional phrases — “in the meantime,” “afterward,” etc. — to create a sense of sequence and flow. And they should be able to edit their own writing for grammar, capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure.
Third-graders should be familiar with the following steps in the writing process:
This process can help your child with the organization and thinking required to write well. Over time, kids should become more aware of their audience and more sure of their own goals in writing. They should understand the roles of different genres of writing, that a report’s purpose is to inform readers about a topic, while a story’s purpose might be to entertain or encourage deeper thinking.
Karen Heath, Vermont’s 2005 Teacher of the Year, says that third-graders should start to feel comfortable writing on their own. “Over the course of the year, most students go from largely teacher-supported writing to far more independent writing,” says Heath. “The biggest key to success,” she adds, “is lots of practice. So give your child regular opportunities to write at home (whether composing thank-you letters, keeping a journal, or writing a poem).”
In third grade, spelling is reinforced through the use of literature; writing, oral and written exercises; and games. Third-graders build on their spelling knowledge by learning more-complex spelling rules and patterns.
Often third-graders bring home weekly spelling lists they will be tested on. These lists may be from a prescribed spelling program or chosen by the teacher. They may include word families, or groups of words that have a common feature or pattern. For example, words with a long e that is spelled ea, ee or ie. The lists may also contain "challenge words," which are more difficult to spell, or thematic words that are used around the holidays or in specific subject areas. Third-graders typically do activities with the spelling words, such as writing a sentence using each word to understand its meaning and reading stories that include the terms.
"To reinforce what your child is learning at school," suggests Heath, "find out what spelling program is being used in the classroom. If there is no weekly list, ask the teacher for lists of word families to work on each week."
By the end of third grade, kids should be using conventional spellings. Students might rely on invented spelling for complex and unfamiliar words, but students should be learning to look up correct spellings in a dictionary
By the end of third grade, your child will have learned to spell:
Third-graders learn cursive writing, receive regular instruction and practice on a daily basis. They practice writing strokes, letters and connecting letters before advancing to sentences. They often do these activities in handwriting workbooks.
Updated May 2010