Third Grade Power Point Pesentation?

Updated on March 17, 2015
C.S. asks from Fort Lauderdale, FL
18 answers

Dear All,

My son just had to do a research project for his third grade Spanish project that involved researching El Yunque, the National Forest in Puerto Rico, doing a written, typed report and also a power point that he will use for his oral presentation. I understand that the assignment is basically a cultural/social studies/ science project. This is not the first request we've had for a typed report - but since it takes him so long to type it - I have him handwrite it and I type it for him. My problem was the request for the power point presentation - to be turned in on a thumb drive. He didn't even know what power point was much less how to use it. Fortunately, we do have the program, at home, so I was able to help him (basically do it it for him).

Is this normal these days? BTW, this is our neighborhood public school! We have about 48% on free and reduced lunch! When I was in school, the assignments were something we were capable of - they have not been taught power point and they did not have an opportunity to do this assignment at school.

Thanks for the feedback - just looking for a baseline of normal. C.

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So What Happened?

To answer some questions:

The project was for Spanish class, which he has once a week. It was to be turned in the following week. I saw the written assignment along with the grading rubric so there was no miscommunication. A power point to be used along with an oral presentation was required.

We do not have a computer lab in the school. There are three computers in his classroom that the children use for AR testing and other assignments from the teacher. There are two computers in the library. The school does have a cart of iPads that are roving from classroom to classroom. My son says they have not been in his classroom this year - I know that they are mostly used in kindergarten and first grade.

I asked his homeroom teacher about the assignment and she was surprised by the powerpoint requirement. She does not teach them power point. I asked the Spanish teacher about it and she said he could print the powerpoint and turn it in if that was easier (still not sure how one prints it if they don't have the program). She also informed me that I could download powerpoint - yes, but you would still have to pay for it. Apparently those on free and reduced lunch can get it for a discount through the county. Great for them - if they have a device to download it onto and internet connections. Not so great for the rest of us.

Regarding typing it for him - he wrote it out in neat cursive handwriting. We discussed powerpoint and slide presentations and then he drew an outline for me. I don't want him using my computer that I use for work for any length of time and we don't have the funds for another computer. I know that in middle school most of the work is done on a computer but it is one that the school district provides to the students.

I am going to question the principal about this - I spoke with several parents who had their secretaries do the project for their children as they don't know powerpoint.

Featured Answers



answers from Phoenix on

Quit doing his work for him Mom.

Part of the assignment is practicing typing skills and learning PowerPoint. You did that for him, so what did he learn?

If it takes him a long time to type, so be it. With practice, he will get faster. If it took him a long time to write, would you have him give you answers verbally, so you could write them for him? You're help is interfering with his ability to experience learning these skills. Stop!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

My son is in 1st and has done PPT in his classroom, both individually and in group projects. He first learned the program this year. He is in a public school. Average socio-economic status.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

My son had to do powerpoint presentations in the 3rd grade, and had to do research, as well, but he had a computer class at school where they taught him how to do powerpoint first. He did the project without help. It was started at school and finished at home.

I'm surprised that students were expected to complete it at home in a fairly low income district. I would think that some students would have difficulty because of not having the technology available. My boys go to a relatively affluent district and are expected to use technology all the time. By the 7th grade the district supplies iPads to all students. I teach in a low income district, and we always have to consider how students will be able to complete work when technology is needed. Most kids have phones (I teach high school), but if they need other technology I have to think about when they will be able to get to a technology lab.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Ours are given the choice. You can still do regular written reports or on poster board, etc. or you can do on Power Point.

Mine have access to a computer lab and my understanding is they would be able to complete the project there.

At our middle schools, each classroom has about 6 extra tablets. So when the class works on projects they pass them out to whoever doesn't already have access to one.

One of my kids is a super slow typist. He's the one I encourage to type the most - I just tell him to break it into ten minute chunks taking breaks. He spreads it out over several days.

Personally, I wouldn't type it all for him (could he do a bit?) because typing is a skill they will definitely need going forward.

Mine didn't really do Power Point until about grade 4 or 5 - but everything is starting earlier these days. They definitely typed up reports in Word though to hand in as early as grade 3.

Hope that helps :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Yep, my DS is in 3rd grade, and has turned in several powerpoint projects. His first one was last year in 2nd grade.

However, my son learned to use the program in his weekly computer class before the first assignment. I did not have to help him with it. In fact, I think he knows more bells and whistles than I do - he's a whiz at adding animations and sounds. My son does tend to finish up his project at home, but they have time to use the computer during the school day, so those without access at home can still do it.

Oh, and yes, public school and high percentage of free/reduced lunch kids.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would work through the basics of a power point with him and then follow up with the teacher. Perhaps he didn't realize that the program described was PPT or he was absent on a day they went to the computer lab. My DD has come home thinking that some game she played was "online" but I found out from the teacher that it was really something the school purchased.

If you think that this is beyond the capabilities of the students in the school, then address that concern separately. As the kids got older, they were told that they could use the computer lab after school hours, or it was suggested to them that they complete this kind of work at a local public library if they didn't have a computer at home. A thumb drive was part of the school supplies at least by HS and I expect my DD will be asked for one earlier. You can usually get them on sale around the start of school at Staples, etc. They only need to be about 4GB, IMO.

Whether or not I typed the project varied widely, but the kid did have to do the bulk of the work/hand write it. We also got them Mavis Beacon to learn to touch type.

I cannot tell you what is "normal" for third grade now because my DD is younger, but I would not be surprised if she did computer-based work in 3rd grade. Our first graders are learning simple coding in STEM.

By the way, that is a beautiful rainforest. We have been there. Good topic.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yes, mine have done powerpoint beginning in 3rd grade at both the local public and at the local charter schools. No, the schools never taught them how to use the program (I helped a little but they basically taught themselves). Funny thing though, my 7th grader recently had a language arts assignment (basically a book report) and they could choose several ways to present. While they were allowed to use powerpoint it was actively discouraged because is inhibits creativity (teacher's words). I loved that, my kids can whip out a powerpoint in 10 minutes, my son ended spending several hours on the project and it turned out much better than a power point ever would have.

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answers from Dallas on

It is common in our elementary school that children produce power point presentations. They start introducing it in 2nd grade and Ive seen some great presentation out to music by 3rd graders. Power point is used a lot through high school.

All work is done at school on computers at the school.

I've had students show me presentations they made at hone . It's a great skill for the students to master.

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answers from Austin on

Sure the schools public and private have PowerPoint projects for elementary aged children.
They attended computer lab at least once a week.

But I agree that I am sure the students are able to use the school computers, don't they have them on the classrooms, library and computer labs? You can get a thumb drives for cheap prices all over the place. Down here businesses give them away like they used to give away pens , gimme hats , bumper stickers etc..
Just ask his teacher.

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answers from Washington DC on

i'm certainly surprised, but is it a bad thing?
i meant to teach myself powerpoint over the winter break, but got distracted by not wanting to<G>.
my kids (young adults) insist it's something very useful, and very easy. they tell me i could learn it in an afternoon. if that's true a 3rd grader could probably pick it up in half an hour.
it does seem odd that they require it if it hasn't been covered in school, but rather than complain to the school, why not just teach him?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Speaking as someone who's self-employed and has to buy the Microsoft Office suite of apps, it's not cheap! It's crazy to think that every family, especially in a low-income area, will have access to it.

Our school is teaching PowerPoint at school in 3rd grade, but there are no expectations that we have it at home.

I do think it's ridiculous for schools to expect kids to use something they haven't taught them. My son is in 6th grade and had to turn in a typewritten report. Great, except his junior high doesn't teach typing so he doesn't know how. He can hunt and peck but hasn't learn basic typing skills. So, I had to do it for him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My son has never done a PPP at his school, and he is in 5th grade. Apparently it does happen in Elementary schools elsewhere! My first experience was in a Social Psych class 8 years ago in College. Ha.

It isn't very difficult, and had good ways to work on skills like focus, organization, main ideas, critical thinking points, etc. however, if you are doing the typing for him, he will not learn these important skills. With technology being the way it is today, typing, and knowing where all the letters are and what row on a keyboard, is something they need now for a the education they will inquire.

Do it over at home, allow him time and space to complete it. Then all you have to do is stick the thumb drive in your laptop or computer and press save on disc. They need the thumbs drive at his school to upload his PPP on their computer to present it in class.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Are you sure he has not learned how to do power points at school from his teacher? I just can't see a teacher requesting her students to do this without previously teaching them HOW to do it, it would not be reasonable for her to expect a third grader to just "figure it out" or for his parents to just teach it to him. Are you missing something here? I would call her to discuss it, maybe she sent home instructions on how to do it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

About that age my kiddos did a short PP presentation AT SCHOOL that they presented to their parents at Parent Teacher Conferences. I would have had no idea how to do this assignment, husband would have had to help. Now that I think about it we have had assignments where the kids had to make a brochure using a particular word processing program, hubby had to help with that one!!!


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answers from Cleveland on

We're in a very good district and no, no powerpoint but I have heard of it elsewhere. Seems crazy to me. I'm grateful it's not a requirement yet. Typing is optional and like you, I type it for my kids. I think you did the right thing doing it for him. But yes, it does happen elsewhere from what I have heard. But maybe those kids were at least taught it!!

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answers from Miami on

I have had this come up every year of my daughter's schooling, even when the kids could not even read, or spell, so I don't know how they expected kids to do research, or check out websites and determine if they were helpful, when they could not read or spell. The parents and I basically all joked about it being "parent homework". One year I even had to teach myself about how to make advertising brochures before I could help my kid put together the material and pictures we'd use for the summer reading project assignment!

It seems they expect parents and kids to sit down and work on the assignment together and learn how to use the software, which is fine, but only after a certain age. You cannot expect a 5-year-old to do this or absorb any knowledge on how to use software, especially when they have no introduction or exposure to it in school. Now that my child can read and spell, it'd be easier for her to research a country on Google, and I can sit next to her and help her decide if the websites we found are helpful in the areas we need or not, but when she was in Kindergarten or first grade?

By the way, typing, Powerpoint, etc. are NOT taught in school (at least not in our school, which is a rather affluent charter school). I find this to be sad as we had computer lab time where we'd learn/enhance our skills on computer usage and Word processing. We also had the Mavis Beacon typing software on the computers and we'd have an hour a day of practicing typing and using Word while at school. Why was this removed from the teaching curriculum?

I heard that in a few years, standardized tests will no longer have a written essay component, but a typed essay component, so I think they should not have done away with computer lab time, which taught kids how to type, format, and print documents. Expecting kids to type an essay in one hour without having any typing knowledge, or just pecking around, seems unrealistic. Consider how long it takes to type one sentence with one finger, especially if you're unfamiliar with a keyboard and the way the letters are placed, and you'll see what I mean.



answers from Washington DC on

While it's not unusual for kids this young to be given assignments like this one, the norm here for a kid in third or fourth grade might be to do the PP in school, on a school computer, often with another student as a team project. My daughter (now in middle school) has done that, and as she got older has also done PP presentations at home.

The thing I find strange is that a school with nearly half the students on free lunch, indicating a fairly high number of lower-income families, is letting a teacher require a PP assignment for a grade. Are you certain the PP part of the project was a requirement? Was it possibly one among a couple of options from which kids could choose and your son just didn't mention other options because he decided to do the PP? (For instance, for some projects kids might have a choice like "For part three after the oral presentation and the written paper, you may choose to do a PowerPoint presentation or to make a poster or to write a story...." etc.). I've seen things like that offered very frequently, largely because the teachers don't want to assume every kid has access to PowerPoint or even to a computer at home -- and those who do have the tools might not have parents who are able or willing to help them use those tools.

If the teacher required that solely a PP presentation be done, at home and with no option for kids to do it in school on school computers -- I would not worry about your son here but about the fact this was required of kids who might not be able to do it, period, due to lack of the tools or the guidance at home. I would really want to know if this was the only assignment she'd accept and I'd ask her, nicely and in a non-accusatory way, "This assignment sure taught Billy a lot about PowerPoint. But what do you do if a student does not have PowerPoint at home, or does not have an adult who can show them how to use it there? Can they come to you to use a school computer and get help learning it? I just wondered...."

It would be a shame and just wrong for kids who don't have home computers, or don't have PowerPoint on home computers, to be dinged on a grade, while kids who do have PowerPoint and parents who can help them do fine.


answers from Chicago on

My DS is in 1st grade at private school, and things like Microsoft Office were NOT on the list of school supplies for the year. Much less a thumb drive.
To me, unless they asked for it at the beginning of the year, they're not getting it. Especially for people that would need to buy the program - or seek it out, which presents licensing issues... - no way.

When they are older, I can see how that may be a need. But not in grade school. Maybe I'm in the minority, though.

Either way, if I was not told that it would be a necessity at the beginning of the school year, my kid would be handing in that report in another way.

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