HOW to Read

Third Grade Guide

Third-grade students are enthusiastic and willing to try just about anything. Therefore, South Carolina College- and Career-Ready Standards use these characteristics to advance the reading, writing and inquiry skills of children. Learning to read fluently has a ripple effect. It stimulates future learning and offers important exposure to new words. Fluency allows the reader to focus on comprehending the text rather than figuring out the individual words. Achieving fluency is particularly essential at this age since the focus after the third grade is reading to learn not learning to read. Please note: It is so important that a child read fluently and with understanding before entering the fourth grade that Act 284 of 2014 requires retention in the third grade unless certain reading requirements are met.

Inquiry and Investigation

Third-grade students probe more deeply into questions and information. They compare and contrast information and as well as draw suggestions from text. They are encouraged to reflect on the act of thinking and learning itself and to determine the new ways of thinking that will help in the future.

  • Develop questions that focus thinking about an idea in order to decide further study

  • Plan and collect relevant information from primary and secondary sources

  • Draw reasonable conclusions from relationships and patterns found during the inquiry process

  • Determine appropriate tools and develop a plan to communicate findings and/or take informed action

  • Examine the learning process and consider how to apply new ways of thinking to future study

Learning to Read

Third-grade students conquer words that are more complex and use a range of strategies to understand unfamiliar words and phrases. They use standard grammar and build clear sentences. This is a key year for building reading skills and gaining fluency.

  • Understand how syllables, base words, prefixes, and suffixes work in order to read and understand multiple-syllable words

  • Read irregularly spelled multi-syllable words and words with common initial and final sounds

  • Use context of a paragraph to determine the meaning of words and phrases

  • Expand the use of capitalization and punctuation

  • Read for longer lengths of time to understand third grade texts


Third-grade students’ use of descriptive language is growing. Grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling skills are introduced, practiced and reviewed in the context of writing. More time is spent on planning, rewriting, and editing their work.

  • Continue to practice cursive writing

  • Write a researched opinion/informational piece that is logically organized

  • Gather ideas from many sources to write about real or imagined experiences that use descriptive details and are logically organized

  • Adjust the writing for the task – to explain, entertain, inform or convince

  • Plan, revise, and edit by building on personal and others ideas to improve writings

  • Write often on various topics. Increase writing in length and complexity

  • Continue to work on keyboarding skills


Third-grade students’ speaking skills are expanding and they continue progress in explaining personal ideas, and responding to others’ comments. They further examine the presenters’ manner of speaking and the way they present their information.

  • Participate in discussions by asking questions to obtain information and clarify thoughts

  • Express ideas gathered from many sources in a concise way. Conduct research both individually and in a group.

  • Compare how ideas and topics are shown in different media and formats

  • Use techniques of volume and tone, eye contact, facial expressions, and posture when speaking

  • Create presentations using audio and visual tools to clarify ideas and thoughts

  • Identify a speaker’s presentation style. Determine if a speaker is organized, addresses the audience, and why certain word choices and figurative language is used.

Reading for Enjoyment and Enrichment

Third-grade students deepen their knowledge of literary texts. They compare, contrast, and use other investigative techniques to analyze their reading. Third graders are challenged to look at the world from others’ points of view.

  • Explain the differences between first and third person points of view

  • State the author’s purpose and tell how the student’s perspective differs from the author’s

  • Recognize the different points of view of the narrator and the different characters

  • Describe characters’ traits, reasons for their actions, and their feelings. Explain how their actions contribute to the development of the plot.

  • Explain the influence of cultural and historical context on characters, setting, and plot development

  • Read independently with understanding for a sustained amount of time

Reading for Information

Third-grade students learn to see books as sources of information as well as fun. They deepen their knowledge of non-fiction texts. They begin to move beyond “reading to read” to “reading to learn.” Third graders learn to summarize and make predictions from the text.

  • Make assumptions and draw conclusions, referring to the text to support those ideas

  • Summarize key details of several paragraphs

  • Make conclusions or pre- dictions from the reading. Support ideas with details

  • Begin to read according to the purpose of the task and whether the text explains, informs, or convinces

Learning at Home

Learning does not end at the school door. Your child needs support and help from you to succeed in the third grade. Work with your child by staying informed about class work and knowing whether help is needed with specific skills. Here are some suggestions for things to do at home to help your child learn:

  • Continue to read to and with your child. As she reads along, encourage her. Be flexible with the time and place for reading – any time is a good time to read. Give her time to figure out a word or to pronounce it correctly. If the word isn’t coming, say it so she doesn’t get discouraged. Always cheer her on.

  • Talk with your child about his book. Ask questions to make sure he understands what he is reading. Who are the characters? Where are they? What would you do if you were they? Have him predict what will happen. Discuss how the illustrations help with the story.

  • Choose an illustration from a book and have your child invent a story from it. Have her write her story and tell you what clues she used from the illustration to develop her tale.

  • Play “story rewrite” by replacing words in a book with terms that make the plot more exciting. Play other word games to expand your child’s vocabulary, such as “opposites” (rainy/clear, mean/kind) and “similars” (walk/stride, big/huge).
  • Take a magazine or newspaper article and have your child circle all the verbs or all the nouns he finds. Have him find the pronouns.
  • Have your child write a description of a recent trip out-of-town, to the store, or to the library. Work with her to edit the work.
  • Take your child to the library and get him a library card of his own. There are books, magazines, graphic novels, and CDs to interest him in reading and help develop good grammar usage.