Skip Navigation

Grade 3 - Social Studies

Social Studies in 3rd Grade

Throughout the 3rd Grade, students demonstrate the following intellectual, reasoning, reflection, and research skills while engaging in inquiry and project-based learning:
  • Students describe the physical and human geography and use maps, tables, graphs, photographs, and charts to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context. 
    • Ask the essential question: “Where is my community?”
    • Identify features of each region in California
    • Identify geographical features in their local region (e.g., deserts, mountains, valleys, hills, coastal areas, oceans, lakes). 
    • Trace the ways in which people have used the resources of the local region and modified the physical environment (e.g., a dam constructed upstream changed a river or coastline)
      • Compare and Contrast coastal, valley, dessert, and mountain communities in California including location and characteristics of the four geographical regions of CA, resources found in CA regions 
*Lessons, Activities, and Projects may include:
Activities & Assignments: Landforms flip book, regions bean map
Literacy Connection: When the World Was New by DH Figueredo
Essential Question: Why did people settle in California? 
  • Students describe the American Indian nations in their local region long ago and in the recent past.
    • Ask the essential question: “Who lived in Early California?”
    • Describe national identities, religious beliefs, customs, and various folklore traditions. 
    • Discuss the ways in which physical geography, including climate, influenced how the local Indian nations adapted to their natural environment (e.g., how they obtained food, clothing, tools). 
    • Describe the economy and systems of government, particularly those with tribal constitutions, and their relationship to federal and state governments. 
    • Discuss the interaction of new settlers with the already established Indians of the region. 
    • Define what a California Indian Community Is and how California Indian Communities Work
    • Research and present legends and important stories from the California Indian Communities
*Lessons, Activities, and Projects may include:
Activities & Assignments: Primary source photo analysis, climate map exploration, Native American tribe research and project
Literacy Connection: Legends 
Essential Question:  Who were the first people in my community? How did they adapt to their environments and use resources? 
  • Students draw from historical and community resources to organize the sequence of local historical events and describe how each period of settlement left its mark on the land
    • Ask the essential question: “How has life changed for people in my community over time?”
    • Research the explorers who visited here, the newcomers who settled here, and the people who continue to come to the region, including their cultural and religious traditions and contributions. 
    • Describe the economies established by settlers and their influence on the present-day economy, with emphasis on the importance of private property and entrepreneurship. 
    • Trace why their community was established, how individuals and families contributed to its founding and development, and how the community has changed over time, drawing on maps, photographs, oral histories, letters, newspapers, and other primary sources. 
    • Study how communities develop
    • Make personal connections to students’ own communities
    • Students exploration the Settlement of California
    • Research and investigate Spanish Explorers, Missions, Ranchos, Gold Rush, Early Entrepreneurs, Immigration 
*Lessons, Activities, and Projects may include:
Activities & Assignments: Cabrillo’s Route, Push and pull factors, A Community Celebration
Literacy Connections: My Diary from Here to there by Amada Irma Pérez, The House on Maple Street by Bonnie Pryor                                                
Essential Questions:  Why did Europeans explore North America? Why did people move to my community? How has my community changed over time? 
  • Students understand the role of rules and laws in our daily lives and the basic structure of the U.S. government. 
    • Ask the essential question: “How do our government and its citizens work together?”
    • Determine the reasons for rules, laws, and the U.S. Constitution; the role of citizenship in the promotion of rules and laws; and the consequences for people who violate rules and laws. 
    • Discuss the importance of public virtue and the role of citizens, including how to participate in a classroom, in the community, and in civic life. 
    • Know the histories of important local and national landmarks, symbols, and essential documents that create a sense of community among citizens and exemplify cherished ideals (e.g., the U.S. flag, the bald eagle, the Statue of Liberty, the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Capitol). 
    • Understand the three branches of government, with an emphasis on local government. 
    • Describe how the branches of government work together
    • Investigate heroes who have helped their communities
    • Describe the lives of American heroes who took risks to secure our freedoms (e.g., Anne Hutchinson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr.). 
    • Consider qualities of good citizenship and how citizens build strong communities
*Lessons, Activities, and Projects may include:
Activities & Assignments: American Heroes Research & Project, US Landmarks flip book, primary source analysis, Select a Symbol, Create your Flag, Rules and Laws, Good Citizens, The Constitution, Branches of Government
Literacy Connections: A More Perfect Union: e Story of Our Constitution by Betsy Maestro and Guilio Maestro, The U.S. Constitution by Norman Pearl, How the U.S. Government Works by Syl Sobel,, Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh.                                            
Essential Questions: What is the US Constitution? Why is the US Constitution important?  How can I help my community?
  • Students demonstrate basic economic reasoning skills and an understanding of the economy of the local region. 
    • Ask the essential question: “How do people in a community meet their needs?”
    • Describe the ways in which local producers have used and are using natural resources, human resources, and capital resources to produce goods and services in the past and the present. 
    • Understand that some goods are made locally, some elsewhere in the United States, and some abroad. 
    • Understand that individual economic choices involve trade-offs and the evaluation of benefits and costs. 
    • Discuss the relationship of students’ “work” in school and their personal human capital
    • Investigate and provide solutions for how people may spend money wisely
*Lessons, Activities, and Projects may include:
Activities & Assignments: Producers-Consumers-Goods-Services, Supply and Demand, Barter vs. Currency activity
Literacy Connection: Almost Zero by Nikki Grimes, A Chair
for My Mother by Vera Williams, When Bees Fly Home by Andrea Cheng, A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting                                           
Essential Question: What issues are important to
my community?