Building Social Studies Skills

Grade 3
Tips for Parents

  • Watch the television news together on occasion. Let the events on the news become a basis for conversation. You might also watch documentaries about historical figures with your child; biography is a good basis for helping children learn about history.

  • Look at photographs together. Family pictures showing you and your child at different ages are a good choice. Ask, "What can you remember about these earlier times? What is different now?"

  • Look at photographs or children in other parts of the world. See whether your child knows where these children come from, and then ask him or her to tell you about the different countries the children come from.

  • Social studies in the third grade includes learning more about maps and various regions of the world. You might ask your child what countries he or she knows about. Can your child find these countries on a globe or a map?

  • Third-graders study the globe. Ask your child to pick out the continents -- Asia, Africa, South America, North America, Europe, Australia, Antarctica. Make a game of it, taking turns to find the continents. (You can do the same thing with the oceans.)

  • With a map or atlas, see if your child can use map coordinates (these are the guides maps have on the edges, usually numbers on one side and letters on another, rather than latitude and longitude.)

  • Ask what scientists, carpenters, mechanics, lawyers, plumbers, physicians, and nurses do. Take turns thinking of various occupations, perhaps starting with people you know or characters in books.

  • Children celebrate several different holidays in school. President's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and in some settings Cinco de Mayo receive the most attention. These celebrations are good opportunities to ask your child what he or she has learned about the presidents, Martin Luther King, Jr., and various national traditions.

  • Ask your child to share with you what he or she has learned about different ethnic and cultural groups in and around your community. What has your child learned about African Americans, Hispanics, Vietnamese, and Cambodians?

  • Ask your child to describe how a skyscraper is built, how a car is made, how wheat is harvested, how bread is made, how oil is carried from one part of the world to another, and so on. You will learn about your child's growing understanding of the world.

Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 3rd Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.


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