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Grade 3: Bringing the Colorado Social Studies Curriculum to Life

If you spend time with the Grade 3 teachers at Graland, they will tell you that one of the highlights of their year is the many experiential field trips that they coordinate for their students as part of the social studies curriculum.
Each year, Graland third graders dive deep into Colorado's history, with a main theme of exploring the original inhabitants of Colorado and how they interacted with various groups, each other, and the state. Grade 3 Teacher Mrs. Mary Helen Hamilton shared that she is grateful for all of the opportunities that exist just beyond Graland's gates because they truly bring her lessons to life. "We're really lucky that there are so many field trip opportunities in Colorado and that we get to extend our classroom outside of Graland's campus," Mrs. Hamilton said. "The trips we go on as a class provide shared experiences and background knowledge for the students that we can all refer back to in our classrooms. Overall, these experiences help our students understand the text better, ask informed questions, and retain information." Throughout the year, the third graders have been building a map of Colorado and adding new elements each time they return from a field trip. With trips to Chief Mountain, the History of Colorado Center, the Plains Conservation Center, Argo Mine, the Governor's Residence, the State Capitol, the Golden Museum, and the Navarre Western Art Museum, the map is nearly fully developed! According to Grade 3 Teacher Mrs. Lealy Murphy, "The amount of organization that the trips require is absolutely worth it because these are the lessons and the days that the kids will ultimately remember and take away from third grade."

When asked what their favorite field trip has been this year, the Grade 3 Team shared: 

Ms. Elsner: "My favorite trip was visiting the History Colorado Center. We experienced interactive exhibits that portrayed life during four different periods in Colorado's History. We 'traded' for goods at Bent's Fort, helped 'blast dynamite,' and heard about life in the Colorado mines. We also experienced a Dust Bowl storm simulation of the April 14, 1934 'Black Sunday' storm and took on 'olden days' roles in the historic homesteading town of Kiota."

Mrs. Hamilton: "Argo Mine because it's a newer field trip, and I love that we've been bringing in new experiences that continue to enrich the curriculum. I also think it's interesting to learn about the economic and environmental impacts of mining in Colorado. It's also fun for the students to see mining equipment and to get to mine for gold themselves."

Mr. Holt: "The Navarre Western Art Museum because it requires a sense of maturity that is different from our other experiences. I also think it enriches our social studies curriculum because seeing the art helps students to better visualize what people and places looked like during the time periods we are studying."

Ms. McCormick: "The Capitol Building is a unique experience because the students get to see discussions about laws in session. We also get to climb to the top of the dome, and it's neat to see the Governor's office and the natural resources used to make the state building. It's almost like everywhere you look is symbolic of who we are as a state. There are hidden gems everywhere." 

Mrs. Murphy: "The Plains Conservation Center because it helps kids realize that Colorado was mostly plains before it was urban."

Mrs. O'Connor: "Chief Mountain because I love spending the day with my students outdoors. Together we experience the Colorado life zones we study in class, as well as bond as a class while hiking."

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1927, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.