3rd and 4th GRADE CURRICULUM
The foundation for all learning at the Village School is a strong sense of community.
The children view themselves as integral members of their classroom and the larger Village School community. Students learn the important skills of learning with and caring for others and building responsible independence.
Academic learning is enhanced when the children feel both safe to contribute their own original ideas and are open to hearing the ideas of others. Community building activities are present throughout the day, from morning meetings to group book talks to cooperative games.
As part of community building, we are also working on ways to instill a growth mindset within our class. We are aiming to have a ‘can-do’ attitude and the students are learning about why this is important for their brain development.
Our theme this year is Ancient Greece. We start the year by looking at a map of Greece and create a two-dimensional color map and three-dimensional clay map to help us understand how the lay of the land influenced the societal structure and mythology of the Greeks. We also mark important places so we’ll be able to have a sense of place when reading the stories and history. The first part of the year will focus on the mythology. We’ll read the myths, create trading cards of the gods and goddesses as an ongoing project, as well as work on other hands-on projects that are fitting with the myths.
The culmination of our mythology unit will be to create Hades and teach visitors about the underworld, which will happen before the holiday break. We’ll learn about important people including philosophers and mathematicians as well as common people and everyday life. We’ll also learn the Greek alphabet and experiment writing with it. In the spring, we’ll visit the Museum of Fine Arts to see Greek pottery—many of the pieces depict the myths and it will be a good connection back to the fall. In the spring we’ll also learn about the Olympics. The children learn about theme through guided and independent research, reading together and individually, and by doing hands-on projects that bring the ideas we are thinking about to life.
During Reader’s Workshop children immerse themselves in a wide variety of books. Children are exposed to many different genres, from non-fiction to chapter books to poetry. Children are given independent reading books from the classroom library. These books help them practice and develop skills, and offer the right challenge to extend their learning. We’ll also have group readers this year where we’ll read and discuss a common novel, which will offer rich discussions, time to reflect and write about their thinking.
We’ll explore themes in the novel, character motivation, symbolism, and more. Children are assigned reading and writing homework for the class reader. To enhance continuity between home and school, children carry their books home each day and should spend at least 20 minutes each evening reading independently. Throughout the year, children are read stories aloud as well.
Writer’s workshop is a time for students to think about their own stories and to communicate with others through writing and drawing. While becoming more skilled with the technical aspects of writing, children are also learning to find their own voices, craft writing pieces, explore different types of writing and to think carefully about language. Because it is important for students to let their writing flow and get their words on paper, they are encouraged to use their best choice spelling. Teaching students a variety of strategies to spell unknown words empowers them to record their stories onto paper. Some units of study for this year are: Poetry, Personal Narrative and Report Writing.
Through journaling, children learn to record, value and reflect upon their own experiences. They are also creating seeds that may grow into later writing. Journal is a time for students to think about what is important to them and to get it down with drawings and/or words. We also use the journal as a place to collect the poems of the week.
Word Study is a time for students to practice building English language skills. Dictionary skills, vocabulary building and learning parts of speech are the cornerstones of word study. A component of word study is spelling. During spelling students learn spelling rules, words that break rules and other words. They also learn the conventional spelling for their best choice spelling words. Word work helps students to increase their sight word list and serves as a bridge between best choice spelling and conventional spelling.
The Investigations math curriculum offers students opportunities to have multiple experiences with mathematical concepts through games and other hands-on activities. The students construct their own understanding and have a true sense of ownership of mathematical strategies and ideas. Children are encouraged to use multiple strategies to solve problems and engage with peers to stretch their thinking. The mathematical strands of number sense, geometry, data, and measurement are woven through the year. Investigations is aligned with the mathematical Common Core state standards.
Spanish is taught through movement, stories, games and songs, and is based on the TPR (Total Physical Response) system. 3rd – 4th grade students will practice basic greetings and phrases, learn to respond to common classroom instructions, and work together to act out short stories in Spanish.
Besides the art integrated throughout the curriculum on a daily basis, the class has a full session with the art teacher, Hannah, on Thursday afternoons. The goals of the art program are to have fun, have children feel successful with the art they are creating, enrich the class theme for the year, and develop their art making skills through the practice of techniques and exploration of art materials. Ancient Grecian art invites us to learn about the civilization and culture, as well as the purpose of art making during that time. Students will explore the art history of Ancient Greece through hands on art projects such as painting and works in clay.
This year 3rd– 4th grade students will sing a variety of new and traditional theme-related music. Challenges will include singing in rounds or parts, using rhythm instruments while singing, and learning to clap rhythms written on the board. Students will also continue to study the recorder, with some songs overlapping between singing and recorder class to help students learn to play by ear.
In Science, our focus is to connect children with the natural world and explore major scientific concepts with hands-on activities. The science curriculum is planned throughout the 1st-6th grades so that topics are introduced at a time appropriate to the theme and to children’s development. During the fall, we will be studying earth and space. Further studies in geology include a plate tectonic flip book, a convection lab, studying the rock cycle using peanut butter bars, and a rock lab. We will then turn our attention to space, and make a model of our solar system in the classroom. A trip to the Amherst College Planetarium and Natural History Museum is planned, as well as an early evening star watch. In the spring, we will do a lab on Archimedes’ Principle, study the human body and take part in Biodiversity Day. Additionally, throughout the year we will visit, observe and establish a connection with a chosen spot on the school’s nature trail. This spot will provide a local, current reference as we study both the planet through time and the vastness of space.
An integral part of the 3rd and 4th grade student’s homework, is reading their independent book (unless reading homework is assigned) for 20 minutes a night. Homework should be able to be completed in 30 minutes or less (not counting reading homework).