As the children enter their ninth year they start to see the world differently. No longer are they content to be a part of life without doubts and questions. Before this time the children fundamentally experience little separation between themselves and their environment. As this new consciousness develops, they suddenly begin to realize that they are individuals. Parents may notice children becoming more critical, and beginning to question everything.
Stories from the Hebrew Bible serve as a metaphor for the children's inner experience at this age. Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden, and the third grade children see that they must one day leave the parental nest and make their own way in the world. This need to experience providing for the basic necessities of life is met in the curriculum through the study of farming, gardening, food preparation, housebuilding, and clothing.
The children learn the ways that we human beings have developed to orient ourselves on the earth through the study of measurement. The class discovers that ancient peoples marked the passage of time by observing the cycles of nature. They relive the invention of various devises to measure time, making their own sundial or water clock. This leads naturally to a discussion of how distance was originally measured by time: a day's journey, etc. The children learn that modern units of distance measure originated in the human body: the king's foot became our foot and the king's thumb width became our inch. Thus the third graders see that "the human being is the measure of all things."
In the third grade the fundamentals of grammar are introduced. Regular reading practice becomes part of the class rhythm; cursive writing skills are strengthened. The third-grade child is ready to experience the full diatonic scale in music. The children assert their new independence by learning to sing separate parts in rounds.