Palos East Elementary SChool

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3rd Grade

Ancient Egypt: Gift of the Nile



This social studies unit is designed around the idea that human civilizations develop and sustain themselves as a collection of interdependent systems. Systems of language, leadership, economics, and architecture are examined in the historical context of Ancient Egypt, with opportunities for students to compare this ancient society with their own community systems.  In addition, students discover how geographical systems have influenced the patterns of human civilization over time. Activities of our unit engage students in critical thinking and discussion about systems of civilization, and opportunities are provided for students to share knowledge and ideas through writing, drawing, mapping, and graphing.



(Excerpted from Center for Gifted Education: The College of William and Mary)

Ecosystem Invaders
Image result for cane toad invasive species

What is an invasive species? How do they invade an area and what impact do they have on an ecosystem?  In this ecology unit, Ecosystem Invaders, third grade students will learn all about the environmental and economic threats posed by exotic plant and animal species. 

Students will first be introduced to ecosystems around the world through enriching texts, exploration stations, hands-on learning activities and in-depth research.   The focus will shift to events that can change an ecosystem and students will explore positive and negative effects. 

Working with a group, students will be asked to act as mechanical engineers to solve a problem --design a trap to catch a cane toad.  This activity is set in a real-world context: students will learn about the invasive cane toad species in Australia and why it is important to stop the spread of cane toads to other areas, such as New Zealand.

Ecosystem Invaders aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Standards in Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language Arts.

Space Race


In Space Race, students will embark on an exciting simulated journey through the solar system by first joining other students as members of Space Exploration Teams.  Student Teams work together to explore various Solar Stops (the 8 planets, a dwarf planet, comets, meteors, and asteroids).  At each stop, the students learn about their location, respond in writing to questions, complete creative and/or critical-thinking projects, read stories about the solar system, and write in their Space Explorer’s Log.  Students are encouraged to used varied resources such as the Internet, fiction and non-fiction classroom books, encyclopedia, science texts, as well as background information provided by the unit. Students will also be required to complete one individual Extension activity, but can choose to do more in order to earn gold stars. Extensions provide students with additional opportunities to learn about the solar system and people who have explored space. All unit work is evaluated according to Rubrics and given a point value.  The team that scores the most point is the winner.  The student who earns the most gold stars wins the “Astronaut of the Year” Award!

Rainforest Researchers

The protection of ecosystems and the survival of millions of species, including our own, depend on making informed decisions everyday. 
Rainforest Researchers poses two interesting problems that students must examine and try to solve.  To complete each task, students must work on a team, join experts in Indonesia, conduct scientific tests and surveys, and provide the best solution to the two rainforest dilemmas.


Imagine yourself as part of a scientific team in a remote Indonesian rainforest.  Your team consists of four members: a biologist, an ethnobotanist, a chemist, and an ecologist.  You have been given two tasks.  In “The Search for the Lost Compound,” your team must discover the source of a mysterious plant purchased in a native market. (The plant has the potential to cure certain types of cancer.)   In “The Case of the Disappearing Durians,” your team must discover the cause of a fruiting problem.  To complete each task, you must not only make careful observations, but you must also work on a team, share your discoveries, and form hypothesis.

Weather Detective

In this unit, students become scientists in order to solve a weather mystery.  They will work to determine what happened to carefully researched weather documents stolen from McGee’s Weather Company.  At the start of the simulation, as students learn basic information about the weather, they also receive information about the five key suspects in the case.  Students then combine their newly learned weather knowledge with additional information so they can begin narrowing down the suspect list.  Throughout the simulation, they will learn to observe, draw conclusions from factual information, and carefully write their conclusions in a science journal—just as scientists do. In the end, students will demonstrate their understanding of weather systems by developing their own weather reports using all the information they have gathered.  They will share these weather reports in a video-recorded presentation to the class.  Optional extensions to further expand student understanding will also be assigned to the students.

Hot Off the Press!


History is made of up news events.  Each day newspapers report the daily events that will become our history.  All citizens of the United States have the opportunity to read about history as it happens.  However, in order for citizens to benefit from newspapers, they must possess an understanding of the aims and structure of a daily newspaper.

In this simulation students research and write news articles, feature stories, and editorials about people and events of a particular presidential era.  Newspaper teams work together cooperatively to publish a newspaper.  Articles are assigned, researched, written, proofread, given a headline, and placed on a paste-up of a front page and an editorial page.  The unit will culminate with each team finalizing, printing, and presenting their own news pages.