Third Grade Tips for Parents

The early years in elementary school build foundational skills for students. The curriculum is based on the Iowa Core standards and focuses on key concepts in mathematics, literacy, science, social studies, and 21st Century skills. Learn more about the Iowa Core standards for third grade.

As a parent, the best thing you can do for your child is to stay engaged in their learning. Each day, take time to ask your child about their school day. Ask open-ended questions to encourage interaction. Then, you can build on their daily learning with some of the activities suggested on this webpage.

You can also view suggested learning resources for students. These learning resources offer both digital activities and printable practice materials.


How to Help Your Child at Home:

Look for “word problems” in real life. Some third grade examples might include:

  • Notice those everyday occasions when you use times tables, such as determining how many days there are in four weeks. Ask your child for the answer.
  • Involve your child when you use division to “work backward” in the times tables. For example, determine how many candies each child will get if 36 candies are shared equally among nine children at a party, or determine how many six-inch lengths can be cut from a string 18 inches long.

English Language Arts & Literacy

How to Help Your Child at Home:

  • Make reading for fun a part of your child’s daily routine. Set aside quiet time, with no phones, computers, or other distractions, when your child can read for pleasure such books as Amos & Boris by William Steig or The Fire Cat by Esther Averill.
  • Encourage your child to find a picture from a newspaper or magazine, cut it out, paste it on paper, and write a story about it.
  • Start a family vocabulary box or jar. Have everyone write down new words they discover, add them to the box, and use the words in conversation.


How to Help Your Child at Home:

  • Keep track of temperature and rainfall over several seasons to identify and describe patterns.
  • If you travel to other places around the country/world, help your child identify similarities and differences in climate.
  • Provide a variety of magnets for your child to use in exploration. Ask your child to identify if the strength of a magnet is always related to the size of the magnet.
  • Utilize programs offered by your county nature center. Visit zoos and parks and use hiking, biking, and cross-country trails. Observe groups of animals and discuss how the group works together to help all members survive. Identify as many different plants and animals as possible and encourage your child to discover more information about plants or animals he/she is particularly interested in.

Social Studies

How to Help Your Child at Home:

  • Read with your child every day. Seek out social studies-related books, both fiction and non- fiction. Check your local library or the National Council for the Social Studies Notable Trade Book List at for suggestions of books to read.
  • Visit museums and cultural institutions, and discuss the causes and effects of events.
  • Expose children to a wide variety of careers and interests.
  • Attend local community celebrations and talk about the cultural practices that make that community unique. Look for the unique foods that people from different cultures enjoy.

21st Century Skills

How to Help Your Child at Home:

  • Read with your child from books with 21st Century skills content. Examples: Jobs People Do series by DK publishing; The Marvels of Money for Kids series by Paul Nourigat.
  • Help your child select physical activities to keep moving and have fun.
  • Show your child how to appropriately use technology to find games, activities, and information.

Source: Iowa Core Parent Guides from the Iowa Department of Education.
Read the Iowa Core Parent Guide (English) and Iowa Core Parent Guide (Spanish).
Read the complete standards at