Social Studies: 3rd Grade

Help your young learner with fun activities that build on the social studies topics covered in 3rd Grade.

By Shira Ackerman, MA



Social Studies: 3rd Grade

Third grade social studies often emphasizes and teaches students about communities, both local and in the wider world, as well as citizenship, leaders and governments, and economic systems in different communities. As students learn, think about, and compare these aspects of different communities, they both learn more about the world around them as well as improve on their analysis, writing, and reading skills. Third graders have the ability to understand the greater communities beyond their own, as well as question and analyze the facts they learn, making social studies an ideal outlet for them to develop their critical thinking skills. Consult your child’s teacher to find out which specific communities and which specific aspects of the community will be covered.

In order to build social studies skills, your 3rd grader:

  • Learns about global and historical communities.
  • Learns about the connection between a culture and its environment.
  • Studies and uses maps to gain a deeper understanding of geography and how geography affects a community.
  • Learns about basic financial needs, such as how different communities support and sustain themselves.
  • Learns about how different communities govern themselves and their leaders.
  • Compares both the similarities and differences between different cultures with an emphasis on accepting and understanding why these differences exist.
  • Uses graphic organizers and charts to make comparisons between cultures and communities. 
  • Uses different media such as literature, art, writing, film, and museum visits to deepen her understanding of concepts and portray what she has learned.
  • Discusses American holidays and important days and events as they approach.

Social Studies Activities

  • Keep Up with Current Events: Read local newspapers, magazines, and websites with your child. Look at the pictures and talk about important events or news. Even if your child doesn’t read the articles, you can summarize the subjects for them. Magazines made just for kids, such as Scholastic News, are also great resources for learning current events.
  • Learn about Your Local Government: Visit your town hall and learn about your local leaders. Your child can write a letter or email to local government leaders. It is sometimes even possible to meet with them.
  • Form a Family Government: Assign different roles to family members, vote on family decisions or rules, or hold meetings to discuss decisions and issues that come up in the family.
  • Pick a Place: Have your child pick a place on the map she would like to learn about. Use the internet and/or books to learn more about the place and its community. Or ask someone you know who lives in a different place to send you pictures of and facts about that place. Then work together with your child to create a collage or magazine about that place using text and art.
  • Find a Pen-Pal: If you know of another child who lives somewhere else, coordinate with a parent to set your children up as pen-pals, using technology (under your supervision) when possible. Your child can use email, letters, and phone- and video calling to communicate. Have the children send pictures of their communities to each other.
  • Find the Historical Figures You Know: You and your child can talk with and interview an older family member or friend about an important or historical moment he/she experienced. This can be filmed or recorded, or you can even put together a poster or book of what you learned together.
  • Map It Out: When visiting a new place, look at a map and show your child your planned route and important locations on the map. When you are given a map somewhere (such as in an amusement park, department store, zoo, or museum), help your child read the map and let her lead the way. 
Age 8