Fourth graders become more self-confident as their perception of the world sharpens, but at the same time their experience of separation from their surroundings can be quite painful. The Norse stories with their slap-stick humor and their deep and subtle themes give the children the strength to face these challenges. Stories with similar moods such as the stories of native peoples are also used to demonstrate the many similarities betweens cultures all over the world.
The children begin to form their own personality in response to their experience of the world, consciously choosing those qualities that will go into their characters. The fourth grade curriculum addresses a child in possession of greater certainty and confidence. The child is more assured of his/her own place in the world and is able to assert more individual needs and wants. The curriculum correspondingly evolves away from the unified approach of early childhood into the teaching of more specific subjects. The Main Lesson blocks are more varied in the fourth grade than they have been in the earlier grades, reflecting both the children’s individuation as well as the intellectual breadth of which they are beginning to be capable.
Language Arts: Norse myths and sagas — stories of heroes, giants and brave adventurers who go out to explore the world — resonate with this group. Against the backdrop of these stories, the writing skills of composition, grammar and spelling are further honed. Class readers are explored and studied which enrich the geography, social sciences, and history blocks.
Math: The fourth grade child begins the year with a firm foundation in working with whole numbers using the four processes. The children learn to add, subtract, multiply, reduce and expand fractions, and to change improper fractions into mixed numbers.
History and Social Studies: the curriculum examines the historical development and diversity of human society locally and throughout the state. The child develops a sense for the world of the indigenous Californians, the Spanish explorers, the first missions, and the period of the Gold Rush.
Geography: The child’s growing ability to regard with objectivity her/his environment is developed through the study of local geography. They study and make maps of the classroom, the school, the neighborhood, the city, and state (with the curriculum adapted to the local geography and history of the area around their school). The goal of the geography curriculum is to engender an understanding of the interrelatedness of human activity and the local physical conditions of the earth.
Science: Guided by the Next Generation Science Standards, Zoology is introduced, and grows out of a descriptive study of the human being and our place in nature. Through detailed study of the forms and habitats of animals, the children begin to get a feeling for the fascinating assortment of skills, qualities and adaptations that the animals possess. This detailed study offers opportunities for the child to develop comparative, conceptual, and observational skills, and it provides additional material for artistic, dramatic, and language arts activities.
Music: The fourth grade signals the introduction of another instrument, the violin, in addition to continuing the recorder. More than the ability itself to play a musical instrument, introducing the violin is about the process students must undertake to acquire that ability. Children have to stick with the difficulty of practice, practice, and more practice which helps them develop a strong will. In both music and drama, students are now ready to take individual parts in ongoing group performances.
Handwork: “Needle arts” is introduced and focuses on cross-stitch, embroidery, and braiding. The finished project is the combined result of each needle art taught, and where their enduring dedication and patience will allow them to create something quite meaningful and useful with their newfound skills.
Movement: Fourth graders have begun to master root developmental motor skills. They learn games inside and outside the classroom with hands, feet and eyes. Cooperative versus competitive games offers opportunities and experiences to reinforce class community.