Could You Finish a 3rd-Grade Homework Assignment?

Torrance Grey

Social studies: How many branches does the U.S. government have?

The three branches are the executive, legislative and judicial branch. In the third grade, children are just starting to learn about the "checks and "balances" this system provides.

Social studies: How many Houses does Congress have?

Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Students usually learn this around the 3rd grade, and also learn that this is called a "bicameral" legislature, for "two houses."

Grammar: Which one of these is NOT a consonant?

The trickster here is "y." It's often a consonant, but sometimes a vowel, when it's pronounced like a long "i." For example, in the word "by."

Geography: How many continents are there?

The parents of children who are in third grade probably grew up with the idea that there are seven continents. However, many geography teachers now tell children there are six because Europe and Asia have no natural barriers dividing them. Rather, the "Europe/Asia" distinction came from the ancient Greeks, who viewed everything east of Greece as an entirely different world.

Geography: Is Antarctica one of the continents?

Just because almost nobody lives there doesn't mean it's not a continent. It has thriving ecosystems of plants, animals, fungi and more. Some schoolchildren mistakenly believe that because Antarctica is a continent, the Arctic region must be one too -- but that's not so. Up north, there's an ocean and an ice cap, but not a true landmass.

Math: What is 8 times 8?

Third-graders usually aren't taught about squaring numbers, but the above multiplication could also be called "8 squared." Later, they'll learn about this, and about cubing numbers (raising them to the power of 3).

Science: One of these objects in the sky has "seas." Which is it?

The side of the moon from which we see Earth has seas, also known by their Latin name, "maria." That's plural for "mar," by the way (which means seas). It wasn't as if some lovelorn astronomer named the moon's seas after a character in "West Side Story." Early astronomers thought they were actual seas.

Grammar: What is the opposite of a vowel?

Third-graders usually aren't taught about vowels and consonants in this kind of detail, but here's the difference: Vowels are the "body" of the word, or sounds made in the throat. Consonants reflect how the lips and tongue "shape" the vowels, with sounds like "p" and "t" before or after.

Grammar: What part of speech identifies a "person, place, thing or idea"?

Older parents of third-graders, or grandparents, might have been taught a noun is a "person, place or thing." Later, "idea" was added to indicate that not all "things" are solid and material. "Morality," for example, is more an idea than a ​thing.

Geography: Juneau is the capital of which state?

The city is named for a mining prospector, Joe Juneau. For a while, it was called Harrisburg, which might have caused some drastic detours for people trying to buy tickets to the city in Pennsylvania.

Social studies: Who is at the head of the executive branch of government?

The executive branch of the government is the presidency, vice-presidency and the president's cabinet. A governor is also an executive, but at the state level, not the federal one.

Spelling: Which of these is a synonym of "prettiness"?

Perhaps we weren't exact enough in our definition. Many people consider "prettiness" to be a lower level of "beauty," or, in math terms, "beauty" > "prettiness." At any rate, the spelling isn't up for debate.

Math: If a number does not divide evenly, what are you left with?

An example: If you try to divide 17 by 4, you get 4 with a remainder of 1. This is because 4 times 4 is 16, and 1 is left over. Or, in other words, 1 is the remainder.

History: Which early culture is known for building the pyramids?

Of course, it's Egypt, where you can still see the pyramids of Giza, which are approximately 4,500 years old. The pyramids were essentially giant monuments to the dead. It is said the pharaohs believed they would be gods in the afterlife and the pyramids were built to prepare them for that.

History: How many colonies were there at the time of the American Revolution?

Most schoolchildren know there were 13 colonies, as represented on the early U.S. flag. They might be hard-pressed, though, to name all 13. So are we, TBH.

Math: What is 13 times 3?

Generally, children are taught the multiplication table through 12, so the highest operation you're likely to have memorized is "12 x 12 = 144." Likewise, you'd also know off the top of your head that 12 x 3 = 36, so you only have to add 3 to get 39. That is probably the easiest way to reach the answer above.

Science: What is the main purpose of a flower?

A flower is a reproductive structure. It's colorful in order to attract bees, which are an essential part of the pollination process.

History: The last state admitted to the Union was _________.

Hawaii was only admitted to the Union in 1959. It is the only state which is not part of the continent of North America, and the only one where you can see a palace that housed a king and queen.

Spelling: Which of these is a state of mind closely related to envy?

Fun fact: "Jealousy" and "envy" aren't exactly the same thing. Word lovers will tell you that "jealousy" is fear that another will take away what you have, and being defensive of it (like a boyfriend or girlfriend), while "envy" is coveting what someone else has. (Like a boyfriend or a girlfriend). This isn't taught in third grade; in fact, many people never learn this black-belt-in-English distinction.

Social studies: Who in the federal government has "veto power"?

People of a certain age might remember this from a PSA series called "Schoolhouse Rock." In these musical animations that aired during children's cartoon programming, a bill goes through the legislative process, hoping not to be vetoed by the president.

Math: What has a numerator and a denominator?

Third grade is approximately when students begin learning about fractions. The "numerator" is the top number, and the "denominator" the bottom one.

Math: How is a square different from a rectangle?

A square is a rectangle. It's that we rarely refer to it that way, reserving the word "rectangle" for those with two sets of sides of equal length, but not four equal sides. Clear?

Grammar: A sentence can be divided into ______ and predicate.

In the third grade, students are taught this basic division of a sentence. Later, things get more complex. They then learn about the ​"subject-verb-object" structure, and also about "indirect objects."

Math: Division with numbers of more than one digit is called what?

We feel you if you said "hard" but like most third graders, you'll catch on if you keep trying. Or you could just use a calculator for your long division. In our wired world, the likelihood that you'll ever go too long without a smartphone with a calculator function is pretty slim.

Geography: Which of these oceans is the deepest?

The Pacific Ocean is generally the deepest and contains the Mariana Trench, the lowest elevation​ point in the world. However, the Pacific is also quite mountainous. All those islands are, after all, just mountains rising from the sea floor.

Coding: What does the "/" mean in "</p>"? (Note: the quote marks are not part of the code).

A slash before a command ends that command. So, in coding, just "<p>" makes what follows into a paragraph, and "</p>" ends that process.

Punctuation: Which sentence has the most appropriate punctuation mark at the end?

The sentence carries a sense of strong emotion, so the exclamation point is right. A period might have worked as well. But a question mark doesn't make sense, and the other two can't end a sentence; they are linking punctuation marks.

Social studies: If the president vetoes a bill, how large a Congressional majority is needed to override it?

Both the House and the Senate must reach two-thirds majorities to override a presidential veto. This is part of the "checks and balances" system, so that a president cannot steamroll over an initiative about which Congress feels strongly.

Science: Which of these is NOT one of the three main parts of the Earth's composition?

The core is the innermost part of the earth, and, as you'd guess, the crust the outermost. "Magma" is a term for lava, but it's lava in the ground before it surfaces via volcanic eruption.

Science: Which of these does NOT orbit the sun?

OK, we should have said "orbit the Sun directly," since the moon does so by orbiting the Earth -- which goes around the Sun. But you get our point ... we hope!

History: Which was signed first, the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution?

The Declaration of Independence was written at the beginning of the American Revolution, in 1776. The Constitution -- a master plan for how the American government should work -- was signed in 1787.

What do most people call the men who signed the Declaration of Independence and led the American Revolution?

Unfortunately, the name is accurate -- women weren't really in the mix of late 18th-century politics. However, women like Abigail Adams often counseled their powerful husbands. She urged John Adams to "remember the ladies" in his policy making.

Which of these wars was fought on American soil?

Naturally, the American Revolution was fought on American soil. And so was the Civil War, in which both sides were (nominally) American. The War of 1812 is lesser-known, but it was part of a British attempt to retake territory in the U.S. It was fought in locations like Lake Erie and Washington, D.C.

Coding: Which of these elements creates a link?

If the letters "ref" tipped you off, they're meant to! A hyperlink is a reference to another page or item somewhere on the World Wide Web. The element "href" has the letter "a" before it, an equal sign after it​, then the target address.

Spelling: Which of these is a word meaning "in the country"?

"Rural" is a word meaning "related to the countryside or farmland." Although it sounds sophisticated, it's easy to spell -- just five letters.

Explore More Quizzes

Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / DigitalVision / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Could you finish a 3rd-grader's homework? If you've got young kids at home, maybe you already have! 

If that's the case, you know that 3rd grade is a time in a child's school career that he or she starts learning and dealing with more complex concepts. These include handling multiple-digit numbers (numbers higher than 9) in math, whether it's adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing them. They might also learn what a fraction or a decimal is. In reading and writing, students start working on reading-comprehension exercises -- they aren't just learning to sound out single words, or spell them, anymore. Instead, they're given short paragraphs to read and asked questions about them. 

In what's called "social sciences" or "civics," students are learning about the U.S. presidents and the branches of government. In regular science, they might be studying the continents and climates of the world, or learning about the solar system and the motions of the planets.

Finally, in many schools, 3rd graders may well be taking their first steps into coding, learning the very basics of HTML. This might make mom and dad feel insecure ... for some, it's an area in which they can't provide any help. Don't worry -- pretty soon, your kid will be jailbreaking your phone for you. Won't you feel proud! 

In the meantime, try our quiz on the basics of a 3rd-grade curriculum. Don't be overconfident -- we think you'll get stuck at least once!

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!