Dear Parents,

    We are extremely pleased to welcome you and your child to the third grade at Montecito Union School. For several reasons this school year promises to be an exciting, challenging, and rewarding time. 

    First and foremost is the "teaming"philosophy shared by each of us, Rusty Ito, Connie Maday, Cindy Martin, Vanessa Scarlett and Kathy Trent. We integrate and utilize one another's skills so that each child will have maximum exposure to math, science, and language arts. In addition, we switch classes for in-depth units of study such as art, math, and science. With this strategy it is possible to meet the needs of all our students in a fun and interesting manner.

    Secondly, our third grade curriculum and environment will promote the skills necessary to become a strong reader, writer, decision maker, problem solver, team player, and independent learner. Your child will be introduced to and will explore literature, writing, mathematics, science, geography, social studies, art, computers, and music. We are committed to building and sharing a nurturing and supportive classroom environment that encourages self-expression, while developing self-confidence.

    Third grade is committed to infusing the strategies for Teaching for Understanding and Visible thinking. The central theme throughout 3rd grade is "What do we honor and believe? " Within the curriculum we present a core idea to help the students connect their personal experience and learning. Throughout the year, the thread that joins all learning is the big idea: Every person is on a personal journey; they learn, change, adapt, and grow.  Our unifying third grade slogans are the following: we are here to learn, believe in yourself, leadership, and frustration is an opportunity for growth. 

    We look forward to sharing the events your children will participate in throughout the year via our bi-monthly team newsletters.  


    Your third grader will have homework four nights a week.  All homework assignments are an extension of lessons presented in the classroom. Board policy says that third graders will spend 30 minutes each night on homework. We suggest working for 15 minutes, taking a short 5 minute break and continuing for an additional 15 minutes.  As a homework consultant, you can set up a time and place without distraction for your child to complete the assignment. Check in to provide help and encouragement, peruse to see if it is complete,  and establish a routine so  homework is returned when due.  If your child loses their homework folder or assignment, the alternative is to read for 30 minutes. In this situation, they will receive credit for their homework if you send in a note verifying that they completed 30 minutes of reading.

    Communication with Classroom Teacher

    We feel that open communication is an important component to a successful school year. With this in mind, we would like you to know that the best way to reach the classroom teacher is through school email rather than by phone. We will respond in a reasonable amount of time. You should know that during the school day the children are our priority, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to return emails and phone messages before the school day ends.  To get an urgent message to your child, please notify the school secretary.

    Third Grade Handbook

    This third-grade handbook is a reference guide to third grade curriculum. It is designed to give you an overview of our classroom rules, homework procedures and classroom curriculum. If you have any questions or concerns throughout the year, please give us a call, and we will be happy to discuss them with you.

    Classroom Rules

    Success often depends on self-discipline and a sense of responsibility.  A classroom discipline plan affords every student the opportunity to manage his or her own behavior so the classroom can have available educational climate. Each student is responsible for his or her behavior. The teachers have developed the following basic criteria for classroom behavior in all 3rd grade classrooms.

    1.    Listen to the teacher and follow directions.

    2.   Raise your hand to be recognized before speaking.

    3.   Show kindness and respect to everyone.

    4.   Keep hands, feet, and objects to yourself at all times.

    In addition, at the beginning of the year individual classrooms develop specific rules for their classrooms. To encourage students to follow the classroom rules, incentives are established. Parents are informed of positive and negative behaviors.

    Third Grade Curriculum 

    Reading and Language Arts

    The third grade reading program is based on the belief that children learn to read and write by having many opportunities to read and write. We know that reading achievement and enjoyment increases when children read quality books that are meaningful to them.We will provide opportunities for your child to read self-selected books, whole-class and small-group stories, and to be read to as well. Reading will be taught daily in the context of our Pearson basal and through Core Literature. English and writing skills will be taught in a similar manner, using the children’s own writing to monitor progress. We strongly encourage you to read to and with your child. Minute for minute, the research is clear that your child will gain more skills with the actual act of reading than with fill-in-the-blank skill sheets. In addition, research indicates that students who read about 30 minutes a day, on their own, score higher on standardized reading tests.


    In third grade students use the Houghton-Mifflin series, California Math and Math Expressions.  Our curriculum is driven by the California State Standards for math. (www.cde.ca.gov)  At the beginning of the year, it is always helpful for parents to review basic addition and subtraction facts so students are capable of quick recall and refresh their second grade skills after a summer of relaxation.


    In third grade the students study the following: Matter and Energy, Astronomy, and Animal Adaptations.

    Our emphasis is on basic concepts as outlined through the State Standards, hands on activities and building an understanding of the Scientific Method. This year we will enjoy enhancing lessons when we visit and use the Learning Lab.

    Social Studies

    In third grade students use Harcourt Brace Reflections text. The theme of third grade is continuity and change, community and government. We also include the study of geography, environment, and map skills. 


    This year’s spelling words will be drawn from the Pearson reading program. In addition, we will focus on the study of word families, contractions, suffixes, prefixes, root words, homonyms, synonyms and antonyms.

    Spelling words may seem elementary to some who are natural spellers. Recognizing this, in our writing program we reinforce the importance of word choice and encourage the development of new vocabulary and words that are “picturesque”. Often these words are new to third graders. So, we assist them with the spelling and believe that through repeated use they will become embedded in their written language.