Looking for the best 3rd grade homeschool curriculum? Look no further! After twenty years of homeschool experience, these are my absolute favorite resources!
I absolutely love 3rd graders! Though no two kids are the same, often they’ve grown stronger in their reading and they’re ready to learn and discover new things. In fact, this might be the year their individual strengths and passions start to blossom. These elementary years fly by, so enjoy them!
Before I give you my opinion on the best 3rd grade curriculum, please note that not everyone agrees with me! There are many differing views on what should be taught and when it should be taught. I’m not seeking to refute anyone or call names. I’m sharing only what has worked well for our homeschool after combining my experience in the classroom with teaching at home. Remember, that’s your job, too. Seek out what works best for your family and don’t worry about what everyone else says!
How Many Hours Do You Homeschool a Day?
I know you are wondering about this because everyone does. It typically takes 1-2 hours to complete a 3rd grade homeschool curriculum. Isn’t that wonderful? In the classroom setting, kids are expected to focus and pay attention for much of the day, but at home, you don’t have to do that. There’s no need to stand in line, sharpen 28 pencils, or participate in that fire drill one more time.
At home, your third grader gets undivided attention on his/her level, so it really only takes 1-2 hours to get everything done. If it’s taking longer than that, chances are you are frustrating your child.
Of course, this doesn’t mean your child is finished learning in 1-2 hours a day and will waste the rest of the day vegging in the land of no knowledge. If you encourage enriching activities (and limit screen time), your child will literally NEVER stop learning. Kids at this age are like sponges. They can’t help but learn!
What Should My Child Be Learning in 3rd Grade?
Third graders are so much fun to work with. This is the year when your child will continue taking on responsibility. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend that you make responsibility your focus in third grade because kids this age are ripe. They are old enough to handle it and still young enough to not have too many bad habits. If you wait any longer, it WILL be harder.
Third graders are eager to take an assignment and then complete it on their own. Most of the time, they’ve gained enough reading skills to do so. (If your child hasn’t, don’t fret. It will come!) If you don’t know where to start, this post will give you 5 simple steps to teaching responsibility.
You’ll still want to focus on reading and math, especially if those aren’t strong. If your child is doing well with those things, feel free to dig deeper with social studies and/or science. But again, it’s not mandatory to dig too deep with those!
Typical 3rd Grade Homeschool Subjects
- Language Arts (specifically reading)
- Social Studies
- Physical Education
- Life Skills
The most important subjects in third grade remain the same as they were in all the grades up to this point: reading and math. Until you’ve conquered these, keep making them your focus. Don’t worry, your child isn’t behind. If you press ahead, they won’t get the necessary foundation to build upon.
In the next section, we will take a look at each subject’s recommended curriculum, as well as when and why you should teach it.
But first, we need to make sure you are legal. It’s very important that you consult with your state requirements. The most reputable place to find these laws is the HSLDA website. Note that I didn’t say to ask your friend who has been homeschooling for many years (that’s a big mistake; look them up yourself).
Most states are pretty light on requirements for elementary school. Some have general guidelines for core subjects. Occasionally, you’ll find a strict state that requires specific hours to be completed. Again, the only way to know what rules you have to follow is to check the site yourself.
One thing to note is that even if you are required to teach science, for example, it doesn’t typically say that you must use a textbook that covers 180 days’ worth. As homeschoolers, we have the freedom to teach the way our kids need us to teach them!
How to Teach 3rd Grade Reading
All About Spelling
In 1st and 2nd grade, I move my kids through All About Spelling levels 1-3. If they reach 3rd grade and haven’t completed level 3, then we will continue from that point before moving forward. I know the title of this curriculum says “spelling,” but this is the strategy that works best for actually teaching reading (not the coloring and cutting out of worksheets). Plus, it’s a hands-on program that takes 10-15 minutes a day–perfect for the early elementary attention span.
Along with the All About Spelling program, I encourage them to read, read, read books of their choosing. That’s where the reading journal comes in.
This is the only reading curriculum we use once my kids reach 3rd grade. It gives them basic structure to their reading and comprehension.
For all children under 5th grade, we use Reading Eggs. It’s a systematic method for teaching reading using a computer program. It’s not free, but it’s great fun. The kids don’t always realize they are learning and Mom can focus on the others during this time, too. That’s always an added blessing for little ones who aren’t independent learners just yet.
Here are some other great reading resources for kids:
- Best Children’s Audio Books Your Family Will Love
- Is it too early for my child to read chapter books?
- Good Horse Books for Kids
- 11 Wholesome Chapter Book Series Your Kids Will Love
- Free Printable Homeschool Booklist For Every Age Level
Once they reach the 3rd grade, we move on to IEW’s Phonetic Zoo. We use this program through middle school. There are three leveled CDs that are self-paced for independent learning. They teach rules and jingles. Kids write the words and keep practicing them until they are mastered. This program was a game-changer for my 4th grader who really struggled. I won’t say she’s now perfect, but it helped tremendously.
Once these CDs are mastered, spelling is no longer a subject in our homeschool. Occasionally it comes up naturally in writing and we learn from there, but no additional curriculum is needed.
This is the one subject that often tips parents over the edge, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Grammar is simply learning to understand how sentences are put together to convey a clear thought. When your kids are first learning to read, grammar is relatively irrelevant to them. That’s understandable. However, it quickly can become a natural part of the conversation.
For little ones, focus on subject-verb agreement. At this stage, learning to say “The dogs ARE in the backyard” is important. It also helps them learn to recognize the linking verbs which are largely sight words (don’t follow traditional phonics rules). You don’t need a curriculum for this. Just do it naturally as it comes up.
Next is the discussion of nouns and verbs. Teach these two simply and help your child see that every sentence has to have both parts. This way they can answer questions in a complete sentence and learn to write (more about that below).
Before 4th grade, writing should be informal and fun. Let your kids keep a journal to record fun events and information they learn, or to respond to a great book they read. Don’t fret about spelling and grammar. This isn’t the time. Of course, you can help them if they ask though.
When my children first learn to read, I give them a spelling dictionary. A few times a week, they have writing time. I give them a journal with blank pages and they draw. After they draw something, I ask them to write a sentence about what they drew. If they ask me how to spell a word, I look it up in their spelling dictionary and circle it for them. Otherwise, I never correct for spelling…I simply let them write. Sometimes I suggest a topic, but most of the time I do not.
I don’t like to do any type of curriculum before 4th grade. This is a great time to focus on handwriting, which is just the formation of letters. You might also take a little time to teach the make-up of a complete sentence as described above.
In handwriting, practice makes perfect. Generally at this age, parents have their children practice a lot. We call this copywork. Copywork is simply when a child copies written text onto paper.
Copywork is an essential skill that has pretty much been phased out of the public school experience. However, it provides crucial tracking skills, and spelling and language practice, that aid in the development of WRITERS. Not handwriters, but actual writers….those people who can successfully craft a 5-paragraph essay without a tirade.
How? Copying excellent quality language cements the patterns into your brain. So, when you select copywork, select something excellent. In our home, we often use the Bible or lines from excellent pieces of literature. (Idea: have your kids copy one verse from Proverbs each day.) I also absolutely love the Write Through the Bible Curriculum for this!
When Do You Teach Cursive?
Some teachers advocate teaching cursive before you teach your kids to print. Personally, I stick with the traditional way and teach my kids to print first. That’s up to you.
You might wonder when cursive should be added. There is no right answer, of course, but most children have a natural desire to learn it around 3rd grade. Why not take advantage of that?
My 3rd grader learned it toward the end of 2nd grade per her request, but prefers manuscript (print). So, I let her use print one day and cursive the next. Why? I am keenly aware that handwriting is not going to be nearly as crucial in her life as other things and I don’t want to die on this hill. Which reminds me… don’t forget to teach keyboarding skills!
3rd Grade Homeschool Math Curriculum
There are probably 100 great math curriculum options out there. But if you skip to that, you’ll miss the point. Math is a subject systematically built on tiny blocks of information. If you miss the foundation, the top will crumble. Period. Sadly, this is why so many kids struggle in math.
Math Mastery is About Basics.
If your kids haven’t spent the time learning math basics in 1st or 2nd grade, take the time to lay the foundation this year. I promise you won’t regret it! The two skills we focus on when it comes to basics are skip counting and basic addition/subtraction facts. I cannot stress this enough.
We start skip counting as early as possible with fun jingles and songs. My personal favorite is the skip counting songs written by Classical Conversations. You can get them in this app. It’s not free, but it’s no more expensive than a CD and you can still play it in the car. You can get a physical CD from them directly here or on Amazon. I found many skip counting CDs on Apple Music with a quick search. Just make sure you stick with one and go all the way to skip counting by 15’s. Don’t stop at 2’s and 5’s.
My older kids were vigilant with learning skip counting and as a result, learning multiplication was easy. My son wasn’t as vigilant (ok, Mom wasn’t on the ball) and we quickly realized multiplication was a much bigger struggle until we went back and did it right. Laying the foundation here is key!
For addition/subtraction math facts, daily practice is required. Be careful because most math curriculums do not cover this in-depth enough. They move on to other topics and kids are lost. Don’t let that happen. Focus here EVEN if nothing else gets done. Remember, math is a cycle and the same concepts are taught year after year. They just go a bit more in-depth as kids get older. If you focus on getting the basic facts very strong, the other stuff will be simple to pick up on.
We use Xtramath for daily fact practice. I’ve used so many different things, but this one wins every time because each child has a log-in and is able to practice the exact facts he/she is struggling with. The website is smart and that makes mastery much easier. Oh, and it’s totally FREE!
I’ve used many fun programs and apps in the past (like Math Bingo), but this program far surpasses its rivals in that it’s tailored to the specific facts that your child needs to work on. It’s like personal flash cards with a built in accountability system to go along with it.
Once your child has the basics down, it’s time to move to a math curriculum.
3rd Grade Homeschool Curriculum for Teaching Math
Once they reach 3rd grade, my kids transition into Teaching Textbooks. They love that the computer teaches the lesson for them and that there aren’t 500 problems to answer when the lesson is finished.
As a mom, I love the instant grading feature. This makes my homeschool day so much easier. I also love that my kids are getting immediate feedback when a problem is incorrect. So often students do the whole page wrong, only to learn they have to start over again. Teaching Textbooks doesn’t allow that to happen.
We also love the Math Reference Chart from CLE. It’s kind of like a “cheat sheet” and gives kids a point of reference.
One final thought: If math really is more than you can handle as a homeschool parent, rest assured you can always outsource it to a co-op or online class. Sometimes taking the subject outside of your realm is good for your student and your relationship!
3rd Grade Homeschool Science Curriculum
When the kids are little, reading should be your focus and science curriculum should be super laid back. In fact, for years our “science” class was digging into a pile of amazing books while cuddled on the couch. Each week I’d carefully select nonfiction books sharing all about fish, elephants, or really, anything interesting. And the kids loved it!
This helps you focus on what is most important at this stage: growing strong readers. When mom holds her little ones on her lap and reads aloud, kids hear beautiful language, learn the organization and structure of language, and eventually begin to desire to read those words on their own.
Some of our favorite homeschool science books have been…
We’ve also really enjoyed homeschool science videos. Kids gravitate toward the screen, so why not use it for good stuff, like learning? We have so many great ones like these…
We also have a subscription to Pureflix where we can watch hundreds of educational titles.
3rd Grade Homeschool Science Notebook
For our 3rd grade homeschool science curriculum, we keep a notebook where we will note some of the things we have learned from our reading and exploring in a science journal (think composition notebook with blank pages). Don’t get too overzealous about this. It can be a killjoy. Just allow your kids to draw or write something that interests them.
Sometimes I have them narrate facts to me and other times we don’t. Let it be natural and fun!
I know this method is a little non-traditional, but remember, there is a reason we didn’t go with the traditional school option anyway, right?
If your kiddos master reading and math and you’d like to add in a little more, here are a few favorites. (Note that I really don’t think you have to. In fact, you could spend all of elementary school cuddled on the couch and be totally fine in upper-level science classes.)
We typically add in a more formal homeschool science curriculum in the 4th or 5th grade, but if you want something for your 3rd grader check out Masterbooks science.
We love that it’s Charlotte Mason-inspired, featuring living books in many cases. I love that it’s lighter in content, but gives kids plenty of opportunities to dig deeper.
We also LOVE Apologia science curriculum. It’s hands-on, provides tons of notebooking experiences, and is just plain fun. Our favorites have been Flying Creatures and Swimming Creatures, but they are all great.
3rd Grade Homeschool History Curriculum
Remember, math and reading need to remain the primary focus. But once those foundations are firmly laid, this is a great time to start teaching the history of God’s world. But again, be careful about buying too much curriculum. It’s easy to weave these topics into your day using great read-alouds or short simple studies. I would also recommend the use of audiobooks.
This is a great time to talk about missions, different cultures, and people in our community (like the role of firefighters and other jobs in the community).
Have each child keep a notebook and draw or write about what you read or where your family visits. Make sure you take lots of field trips! Visiting the local library, police station, or a local ethnic grocery store definitely counts.
Another favorite is the timeline song from Classical Conversations. We love to sing this song! I don’t make my kids memorize it, but the names and dates in the song are helpful for them to remember as they get older.
Introducing kids to these missionary books kids love is truly my favorite way to foster a love for social studies. Learning about the lives of these heroes of the faith teaches us about geography, culture, events, and faith. There is so much good stuff in there it’s hard not to love them!
Great Living Books for Teaching Homeschool History
We love reading real stories about history. This can be a great way to learn and can actually be all the curriculum you need, if you’d like to do it that way. Here are some of our favorites.
Bible Curriculum for 3rd Grade
Our Bible studies teach on a wide variety of topics including sibling relationships, the power of our words, contentment, guarding our hearts, and more!
Our goal is to get kids into God’s Word in an effective yet fun way. We hope to equip kids with the tools they need for a lifetime of engagement with the Bible.
We’ve designed our Bible studies for all age levels! Your 3rd grader can dive into God’s Word in a simple yet powerful way.
It’s never too early to start teaching kids the life-giving truths about God and how He instructs His children in His Word.
3rd Grade Homeschool Curriculum for Electives
Elementary electives are generally disguised as “extra-curricular activities.” Families often do music lessons, sports, or similar opportunities. This is GREAT! Just be sure you keep your purpose in focus. At this age, it’s less about perfecting a skill and more about dabbling in things your children might want to pursue when they get older.
Try to expose them to all of the fine arts (music, art, drama) through homeschool classes, museums, and shows. You never know how God has gifted them! Exposing elementary kids to sports tends to be easier, as there are so many teams to choose from.
Just remember to keep your purpose in focus. I always remind myself that Michael Jordan didn’t even start playing basketball until he was in junior high. Forcing a four-year-old to play soccer against his desires won’t create a prodigy.
Use the elementary years to dabble and explore. Take field trips. Participate in one-day classes. Work hard on life skills. You’ll be thankful you took this approach.
Here are some courses I recommend:
The Story of the Orchestra
When my kids were very young, we used The Story of the Orchestra as our music appreciation curriculum for one whole school year. Lots of good discussions!
One of my favorite resources for classical music with young children is Maestro Classics. These award-winning CDs are full of child-friendly classics. Plus, each CD shares a wealth of instruction. The best part is, your kids don’t even realize they are learning because they are so fun to listen to.
- Piano Lessons (we take local lessons, but this online option is interesting)
- Artistic Pursuits is a really great hands-on art curriculum.
- The YMCA offers homeschool PE classes for the whole family, but don’t forget about things like Karate and organized sports.
More Christian Homeschool Curriculum
Click the image below to find more homeschool elementary curriculum and to learn how to choose the best Christian homeschool curriculum.
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.