Third grade scientists ask and answer lots big questions. What is the weather like in different parts of the world and at different times of the year? How are plants, animals, and environments of the past similar to and different from plants, animals, and environments today? What happens to organisms when their environment changes?

Good news for dinosaur fans: third graders will learn about the types of organisms that lived long ago and also about their environments. They’ll learn that when the environment changes some organisms survive and reproduce, some move to new locations, and some die.

They’ll work on constructing an explanation using evidence and on understanding cause and effect. They’ll study the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object and the cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between objects.

These are big concepts, but you can support them at home by playing some simple games. The key is to get your child talking about what’s happening and why it’s happening. And give evidence for their answers!

How parents can help with third grade science

Design an organism

Two or more people can play this game. Players take turns drawing a piece of an organism, real or imagined. With each addition to the drawing, the player says how the new body part helps this organism survive in a particular type of environment, and then passes the paper on to the next player to add another body part. You may end up with a scaled, horned, thick-furred, flippered beast that can thrive in the ocean, desert, and polar ice caps! Once the creature is finished, encourage your child to color it in and give it a name.

Related 3rd grade science worksheet: A question of life or death

Magnet play

Magnets are great toys for older children. What kinds of inventions can they think to make with them? How about a latch to keep a door shut or a handbag closed? Talk to your child about the way the magnets behave with each other. How does the distance between objects affect how strong the force is? How does the orientation of magnets affects the direction of the magnetic force?

Related 3rd grade science worksheet: Attract or repel?

Sticky balloons

Remember the rub-a-balloon-on-the-hair-and-stick-it-to-the-wall trick? Have your child charge up a balloon or two by rubbing it on his head or sweater. Now see what kinds of objects it attracts and repels. What happens to his hair when he holds the balloon next to his head? Why?

Related 3rd grade science worksheet: Friction is forceful