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Family and Community Guide for 3rd Grade

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Working Together: To support families, communities, and teachers in realizing the goals of the Colorado Academic Standards (CAS), this guide provides an overview of the learning expectations for 3rd Grade. This guide offers some learning experiences students may engage in at school that may also be supported at home.

Why Standards? Created by Coloradans for Colorado students, the Colorado Academic Standards provide a grade-by-grade road map to help ensure students are successful in college, careers, and life. The standards aim to improve what students learn and how they learn in 12 content areas while emphasizing critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and communication as essential skills for life in the 21st century.

Download the full 3rd Grade booklet here.

See all of the Family and Community Guides here.

Where can I learn more?

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Comprehensive Health (adopted 2018)

The comprehensive health standards in the elementary years focus on developing individual skills to enhance physical, emotional, and social wellness and using those individual skills in family, school, and community environments. In each grade, the standards ask students to investigate healthy eating and living habits, explore positive communication strategies, examine effective decision-making, and identify ways to ensure personal and community safety.

Expectations for 3rd Grade Students:

  • Physical and Personal Wellness: Make and communicate appropriate food choices.
  • Social and Emotional Wellness: Treat self and others with care and respect through interpersonal communication.
  • Prevention and Risk Management: Examine the dangers of using tobacco products or being exposed to second-hand smoke; describe behaviors that enhance healthy interactions with others; identify ways to prevent injuries at home, in school, and in the community.

Throughout 3rd Grade You May Find Students:

  • Identifying healthy food choices; making decisions about proper food portions; recognizing factors for healthy and unhealthy eating.
  • Describing self-respect and self-esteem.
  • Communicating ways to express personal space and boundaries.
  • Describing examples of positive behavior and care toward others.
  • Learning positive interpersonal communication skills; expressing verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Following a safety plan; utilizing safe pedestrian and bicycle behavior; identifying and developing fire safety practices to reduce and avoid risky or potentially unsafe situations.
  • Explaining the effects of second-hand smoke on the body; discussing the benefits of not using tobacco and marijuana.
  • Exploring the negative impact of providing personal information on social media.

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Computer Science (adopted 2018)

Computer science may be taught at all levels preschool through high school, but the State of Colorado only has standards for computer science in high school.

Read the high school computer science family and community guide.

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Dance (adopted 2022)

The dance standards in the preschool or elementary years focus on general dance knowledge and movement skills that build a strong foundation for more specialized dance studies in later years (i.e., Ballet, Hip Hop, social, or cultural dances, as well as common choreographic structures).  At each grade level students explore, discover, and perform various dances; discuss and create movement using a creative process; develop the ability to communicate, describe, and analyze personal dance preferences while providing constructive feedback about other dance performances.  Learning about dance and the creative process contributes to educating the whole child while helping to develop self-confidence.

Expectations for 3rd Grade Students:

  • Movement, Technique, and Performance (Perform/Present): Students perform movement with technical competency for this level, develop safe movement habits.
  • Create, Compose and Choreograph (Create): With a partner, or in a small group students experiment with movement to create simple dances; use creative processes to develop movement that has meaning.
  • Historical and Cultural Context (Know/Comprehend): By exploring different dance forms and techniques students gain insight into cultural traditions, as well as connections between dance and different societies or time periods.
  • Reflect, Connect, and Respond (Critique/Evaluate/Refine): Students use dance vocabulary to describe movements, basic choreographic structure, and emotions in various dance performances; discover how dance is related to other arts and academic content areas.

Throughout 3rd Grade You May Find Students:

  • Accurately reproducing movement combinations that are appropriate to a dance style.
  • Participating in warm-ups.
  • Communicating feelings and meaning through movement.
  • Improving movement phrases using a rehearsal process.
  • Observing, describing, and performing historical and cultural dances.
  • Understanding the meanings of certain movements in historical and cultural dances.
  • Describing how experience in different styles of dance helps to understand dance as an art form.

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Drama and Theatre Arts (adopted 2022)

The Drama and Theatre Arts standards in the preschool and elementary years focus on general drama knowledge and skills that blend basic theatrical elements to ensure a solid foundation for more specialized studies in later grades.  Theatre studies may include technical theatre, stage movement, improvisation, acting, writing, directing, and film studies.  Students will discover acting techniques; create and perform theatrical works; explore various characters, plots, and themes; investigate dramatic texts; discover and describe personal theatrical preferences; explore constructive ways to reflect and respond about the creative process and dramatic works from the past and present.

Expectations for 3rd Grade Students:

  • Create (Create): With prompting and support from the teacher students use a variety of vocal and physical explorations to create characters, collaborate with others to make appropriate dramatic choices, and depict the setting/mood/locale of a scene through costumes, props, and sets.
  • Perform (Perform/Present): Investigate character individually and collaboratively through movement and vocal choices; make various design and technical choices to enhance the dramatic work.
  • Critically Respond (Know/Comprehend and Critique/Evaluate/Refine​): With prompting and support from the teacher, students investigate character individually and collaboratively through movement and vocal choices; make various design and technical choices to enhance the dramatic work.

Throughout 3rd Grade You May Find Students:

  • Exploring body posture and sounds to bring a character to life, practicing improvisation such as changing the reaction of a character to the same situation.
  • Explaining the basic plot of a story and ways to interpret or change the story (telling a fairy tale from the side of the villain).
  • Deciding how to create a setting for a story or scene (using body, backdrops, set pieces, and or and props).
  • Collaborate with others to create a scene.
  • Participating in a class discussion analyzing a theatre performance.
  • Connecting artistic experiences to everyday life.

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Mathematics (adopted 2018)

The mathematics standards in the elementary years focus on number and operations. Ideas from measurement and geometry help students learn about numbers and quantities. In each grade, students make sense of problems, explain their thinking, and describe their world with mathematics.

Expectations for 3rd Grade Students:

  • Number and Quantity: Understand fractions as numbers that can be located on a number line.
  • Algebra and Functions: Fluently (consistently) multiply and divide within 100 and add and subtract within 1000; understand the relationship between multiplication and division.
  • Data, Statistics, and Probability: Create pictographs and bar graphs and connect them to the concepts of multiplication and division.
  • Geometry: Find the area of a rectangle and connect area to the meaning of multiplication and division; create categories of shapes based on attributes.

Throughout 3rd Grade You May Find Students:

  • Solving word problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  • Showing multiplication and division using pictures of equals groups and equations.
  • Playing games to build fluency (consistency) with basic facts by discovering patterns related to multiplication and division.
  • Connecting their work with fractions to their work with whole numbers (such as verbally counting with fractions).
  • Drawing shapes to show fractions.
  • Locating fractions on a number line and on a ruler.
  • Covering shapes with squares to understand the difference between area and perimeter.

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Music (adopted 2022)

The music standards in the elementary years focus on general music knowledge and skills to ensure a solid foundation in music education, which can lead to the opportunity for more musical study in later years. In each elementary grade, students engage with and perform various music styles and genres, examine the language of music through identifying and writing simple music notation, consider simple musical creative processes, and develop the ability to describe their own musical preferences as well as critique the music of others.

Expectations for 3rd Grade Students:

  • Expression of Music (Perform/Present): Demonstrate basic singing and playing techniques (singing, holding instruments/mallets appropriately); demonstrate increased musical literacy such as keeping a steady beat with changing rhythmic patterns and following a simple accompaniment.
  • Creation of Music (Create): Create music to follow a plan.
  • Theory of Music (Know/Comprehend): Read, write, and demonstrate knowledge of various music notation symbols.
  • Response to Music (Appreciate and Understand): Compare music from various cultures and discuss musical performances.

Throughout 3rd Grade You May Find Students:

  • Singing or playing songs.
  • Putting new sounds and ideas into a plan.
  • Matching rhythms and sounds heard in songs.
  • Discussing personal musical choices.
  • Discussing music of various cultures.

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Physical Education (adopted 2018)

The physical education standards in the elementary years focus on enhancing movement concepts and skills, understanding basic health-related components and skill-related components of fitness and how it relates to personal fitness, demonstrating respect, and the ability to follow directions. In each grade, students demonstrate various movement concepts; assess personal behaviors; connect fitness development to body systems; demonstrate respect for self, others, and various physical activity environments; and utilize safety procedures during physical activities.

Expectations for 3rd Grade Students:

  • Movement Competence and Understanding: Demonstrate a variety of motor patterns in simple combinations while participating in activities, games, and sports; perform cross-lateral and rhythmic exercises that make a brain-body connection; demonstrate understanding of how the use of self-assessment aids in skill development.
  • Physical and Personal Wellness: Identify the benefits of sustained physical activity that causes increased heart rate and heavy breathing; understand that the body is composed of water, muscle, bones, organs, fat and other tissues.
  • Social and Emotional Wellness: Demonstrate positive social behaviors during physical activity.
  • Prevention and Risk Management: Identify ways to prevent injuries during physical activity.

Throughout 3rd Grade You May Find Students:

  • Demonstrating changes of pathways, levels, forces, and direction with manipulatives (e.g., hoops, streamers, and balls).
  • Demonstrating throwing, catching, striking, or trapping in an activity.
  • Performing a variety of jump-rope skills using both short and long ropes successfully and jumping rope to various tempos.
  • Using instructor or self feedback to make adjustments that will improve performance.
  • Explaining why the body perspires, the heart beats faster and breathing increases when participating in moderate to vigorous physical activity.
  • Locating heart rate on at least two different pulse points on the body.
  • Comparing heart rate before, during, and after exercise and explaining that increasing the heart rate during physical activity strengthens the heart muscles.
  • Encouraging others regularly and refraining from put-down statements.
  • Recognizing how injuries can occur during physical activity.

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Reading, Writing, and Communicating for K-5 (adopted 2018)

The reading, writing, and communicating standards move from developing skills in reading, writing, and communicating to applying these literacy skills to more complex texts through the elementary years. Standards at each grade emphasize skills related to speaking and collaborating with others as students work with literature and informational readings and participate in individual and group research projects.

Expectations for 3rd Grade Students:

  • Oral Expression and Listening: Use informal and formal oral communication to work successfully and cooperatively with others.
  • Reading for All Purposes: Use different strategies to make meaning of literary books (stories, poems), informational texts (science books, “how-to” books), and persuasive pieces (movie reviews, speeches); understand that prefixes (pre-, non-, un-) and suffixes (-est, -less, -ness) have meaning; develop vocabulary to understand different readings.
  • Writing and Composition: Use a writing process (plan, draft, revise, edit, and share) to write a variety of stories, information, and opinion pieces; apply correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling to effectively communicate to an audience of readers.
  • Research Inquiry and Design: Research a topic and share the findings of that research individually and with others; make connections between two texts to see different points of view on a topic.

Throughout 3rd Grade You May Find Students:

  • Reading with fluency (appropriate speed, accuracy, and expression) to understand a variety of texts – narrative stories, information books (“how-to” and nonfiction books about the world around them), and opinion pieces (book and movie reviews, newspaper commentary); using different strategies (asking questions, summarizing, making connections) to better understand challenging readings.
  • Writing about books, stories, poems to “think through” ideas; discussing readings or topics in group settings; recalling details and relevant facts from readings for discussions; making personal connections to books, stories, poems.
  • Evaluating an author’s choice of words and point of view in a piece of writing; exploring the connections between words, illustrations, charts, photos and captions; comparing themes, characters, and setting; comparing key ideas and details between informational writings (science books, “how-to” books).
  • Writing real and imagined stories, informational writings (brochures, “how-to” writings, “I’m an Expert On...”), and opinion pieces (movie and book reviews); writing with focus, organization, and details; finding questions to research, using sources to answer questions; presenting (in writing or verbally) knowledge gained from research.

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Science (adopted 2018)

Three-dimensional science standards in the elementary grades lay the foundation for students to work and think like scientists and engineers. We also see strong connections to skills students will use to be successful with reading, literacy and mathematics. In elementary grades we will explore disciplinary core ideas in physical, life, and earth and space sciences via phenomena in the world around us.  Learners in elementary grades develop and ask testable questions, collect and analyze different types of evidence, and write and communicate our understanding. Mastery of these standards will result in young learners who have a deep understanding of how scientific knowledge can provide solutions to practical problems we see in our world.

Expectations for 3rd Grade Students:

  • Physical Science: Recognize that objects in contact can exert a force on each other. Understand that electric and magnetic force between objects do not require contact, and that patterns of motion can be used to predict future motion.
  • Life Science: Recognize that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles, and vary in how they look and function because they have different inherited information. Explain how being part of a group helps animals obtain food, defend themselves, and cope with changes. Understand that some living organisms resemble organisms that once lived on Earth.
  • Earth and Space Science: Explain how climate describes patterns of typical weather conditions over different scales and variations. Understand that a variety of weather hazards result from natural processes, and that although humans cannot eliminate weather-related hazards, we can reduce their impact.

Throughout 3rd Grade You May Find Students:

  • Asking questions to determine the cause and effect relationship of electric or magnetic forces between objects. 
  • Planning and conducting investigations about the effects of balanced and unbalanced force on an object.
  • Developing models to describe how though organisms have unique and diverse life cycles, all organisms experience birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
  • Obtaining and combining information to describe climates in different regions of the world.
  • Making claims about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.

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Social Studies (adopted 2018)

The social studies standards in the elementary years begin with individuals and families and move from there to explorations of neighborhoods, communities, the state of Colorado, and the United States. In each grade, students investigate historical events, examine geographic features and resources, consider economic decision-making processes, and define civic roles and responsibilities.

Expectations for 3rd Grade Students:

  • History: Distinguish historical facts from myths/fiction; sequence events within their region or community into chronological order; use artifacts and documents as historical evidence.
  • Geography: Identify similarities and differences among places, including their region, community, and neighborhood; analyze patterns to identify the connections among those places.
  • Economics: Define producer, consumer, goods, and services; describe how goods are exchanged. Personal Financial Literacy: Identify a short term financial goal, including the steps necessary to reach that goal.
  • Civics: Demonstrate how to engage in discussions in a respectful manner; identify the origins and structure of local government, including the types of services provided by local government.

Throughout 3rd Grade You May Find Students:

  • Comparing past and present situations and events; creating a chronological sequence of events in the community or region; discussing important events and the diverse cultures and people that have shaped the history of their region and community.
  • Reading and interpreting maps to locate geographic features in the community, state, neighboring states, and the world; identify the factors that make a region unique, such as cultural diversity, industry, agriculture, and landforms.
  • Developing short-term money goals (saving and spending), and writing steps for achieving a money-related goal; demonstrating how the exchange of goods and services offered benefits the community.
  • Discussing local forms of government (city councils); explaining what local governments do, how they started, who participates, and how they work.

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Visual Arts (adopted 2022)

The visual arts standards in the elementary years focus on general art knowledge and skills to create a foundation for artistic study in later years. In each grade k-5, students explore techniques of various artistic styles, follow developmentally appropriate steps in the process of creating, learn how to talk about (critique) works of art using art vocabulary, identify art in the world and daily life, and discover ways that artwork helps people better understand each other throughout various times and cultures.

The Colorado Academic Standards in Visual Arts are organized by elements of the creative process taught in a cyclical, interconnected manner. Artists learn, connect, think, come up with ideas, experiment, plan, work, refine, share, and reflect in repetitive, spiraling ways.

Expectations for 3rd Grade Students:

  • Observe and Learn to Comprehend (Know/Comprehend): Investigate what a piece of art is trying to express and recognize how artists intentionally create meaning.
  • Envision and Critique to Reflect (Critique/Evaluate/Refine): Show how experimenting and researching help an artist create what they intended.
  • Invent and Discover to Create (Create/Present): Plan and create a work of art and begin to know when it is finished. 
  • Relate and Connect to Transfer (Connect/Apply/Transfer): Notice how works of art share ideas and meaning with home cultures and with cultures outside of one’s home culture.

Throughout 3rd Grade You May Find Students:

  • Using art terms to explain what a piece of art is trying to say; identify how historical and/or cultural ideas are present in a work of art; talking about why an artist’s choice of materials works to share intended meaning or how it doesn’t.
  • Using feedback and reflection to know what to do next in a work of art; explain how personal research and experimentation is used to create a work of art.
  • Knowing how to work with others collaboratively; knowing when a work of art is finished.
  • Finding connections in what is learned through art and other subjects in school, home, and in the wider community.

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World Languages (adopted 2018)

Instead of being organized by grade level, the world languages standards are organized into ranges that describe the progression of learning a student should experience as they grow from novice language learners to an advanced user.

Read the world languages family and community guide for elementary school here.

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