Preparing Boys for Life

Third Grade

students performing mummification

Third-graders' study of ancient Egypt includes performing a skit about mummification. Learn more >

Curriculum overview

Third grade boys become independent readers, writers, and researchers. They are self-directed and adept at problem solving. They learn what it's like to be a boy in early America, Ancient Egypt, and modern China. They research famous women, write a report, and present their findings to their mothers during a special mother-son event. In the spring, boys are immersed in the study of modern day China, including the use of Chinese language.

Boys spend nearly half of the school day in literacy and math instruction, and explore science, art, music, and physical education with specialist teachers. Technology is integrated daily through the use of Chromebooks.

teacher in a guided reading group with boys

In Guided Reading, boys are reading detectives and use their language arts tools to solve the mystery.

Areas of study


In Balanced Literacy, we follow the Guided Reading philosophy and Writer’s Workshop model.

The goal of our Guided Reading program is to reach the needs of each student during small group sessions, allowing them to become lifelong readers. The skills we focus on to strengthen comprehension are: Making Meaningful Connections, Applying Background Knowledge, Asking Questions, Making Predictions and Inferences, Visualizing, Determining Importance, Finding Main Idea, Summarizing, Practice Fluent Reading with Expression and Accuracy.

Writer’s Workshop combines the structure of writing and the creativity of the writer’s craft in a mindful environment, allowing all writers to develop at their own pace. Third graders are expected to write with proper sentence structure, mechanics, and spelling.


Everyday Math’s extensive hands-on learning activities and games are boy-friendly, aimed at helping them to cement their math skills and understanding. Boys are given a strong foundation for mathematical learning as well as lessons that develop computational and conceptual skills. A strong emphasis is placed on the student’s ability to explain his mathematical thinking in written and oral form. Math instruction is differentiated by assessing each boy’s abilities and targeting instruction according to his learning needs.

Social Studies

Third grade boys are immersed in rich experiential trimester themes that explore Colonial America, Ancient Egypt, and Modern Day China. As part of their study, boys have a powerful outreach projects that serve two communities in need: P.A.L.M., Positive Aging in Lower Merion, and The Timothy School for autistic children. These powerful service learning projects help to make boys aware of their responsibilities to serve others in need.


Boys are a responsible member of a lab group and carry out a “job” on a daily basis in the fields of Biological, Chemical, Physical, Earth and Space, and Health Sciences. The boys delve deeper into the scientific method as a process to investigate the world around them. They engage in detailed experiments, including dissecting a chicken egg and flower, engineering and building a ship to sail across the School’s pool, caring for live animals, producing a nutrition commercial, making models of the moon’s surface, and growing plants in the greenhouse. Other favorite projects include creating chemical reactions and building and launching rockets.


Haverford uses the Kódaly approach to teach boys to read increasingly more intricate melodic and rhythmic notation through a rich variety of authentic folk music from America and around the world. The recorder is introduced, and all boys sing in the Treble Choir, where they learn to blend harmonies.


Third graders tend to have more advanced capability to manipulate materials, enabling them to create a variety of inspiring work. Their artistic endeavors throughout the year incorporate both three-dimensional and two-dimensional creations that are inspired by established artists like Louise Nevelson and Escher, as well as cultural creations like the Wayang Goleck Rod puppets of Indonesia. Students are challenged to cultivate their verbal skills and artistic awareness as they speak about their own work and discuss the work of others. They are exposed to various historical movements in art in the form of visuals, discussions and activities that help them to experience styles like Impressionism, Fauvism, and Pop Art.

Physical Education

Our Physical Education Department and sports programs not only promote athleticism, but camaraderie, sportsmanship, fair play, and good competition. The major areas of focus in the first grade program include:

  • Foot-eye and hand-eye coordination
  • Cooperative games implementing physical skills
  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility

All activities in our curriculum are designed to foster the skills necessary for our boys to be successful in their athletic interests, develop character through sportsmanship and cooperation, and promote participation and enthusiasm.


Favorite characters come to life in the Lower School library, where our boys develop a love of reading. While listening and responding to stories, the boys practice a number of important skills, including:

  • How to ask a question
  • How to think about their reading preferences
  • How to locate books within the library

Character and Citizenship

Third grade students host an annual toy sale to benefit P.A.L.M., a center for positive aging in Lower Merion. Each boy is responsible for setting up the store layout, pricing the items, and managing the register and inventory. This much anticipated school-wide event occurs each December. Learn more about service projects at The Haverford School >

third grade boys working with charcoal

In art, students learn concepts of light and shadow using charcoal and erasers.

What has stood out to me most this year is our son's transition to academic autonomy. His early education at Haverford provided a solid foundation in reading, math, and writing, as well as guardrails and support to help him grow to meet the increasing academic rigor. I entered Haverford as a middle school student and didn't have the framework that others had when it came to things like time management and self-reliance. Starting my son in the Lower School gives him this opportunity and also prepares him for the future demands of middle school, high school, and beyond. We're certain that he will have a strong academic path, a knowledge of his own interests and talents, and, perhaps most importantly, relationships with classmates and teachers that will last a lifetime – just as they have for me. Bart Smith '95, parent