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Fourth graders are passing through the nine-year change. They still wish to revere, but for them, that reverence must be justified. 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.
Math – The fourth grade child begins the year with a firm foundation in working with whole numbers using the four processes. This year marks the appropriate time to introduce fractions, as the practice of breaking apart the whole into its constituent parts mirrors the child’s own internal experience of the fracturing of his/her world. The children learn to add, subtract, multiply, reduce and expand fractions, and to change improper fractions into mixed numbers.
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.
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 – 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. Students also do their first research project.
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.
Foreign language – Spanish language instruction continues twice a week with an emphasis on basic grammar, writing and reading. The students are immersed in a program of song, drama, artistic work, and grammar led by a native speaker.
Handwork – “Needlearts” is introduced and focuses on cross-stitch, embroidery, and braiding. The finished project is the combined result of each needleart 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.
Outdoor Education – 4th Grade students are now able to meet the world with new capacities of thinking and feeling. The children are truly able to experience the world beyond their immediate families. This is the perfect time for students to connect with their environment. Thus, subjects like local and regional history and geography are taught. This study begins with a map of the classroom, with subsequent lessons expanding to the larger community and then, integrated with their studies on California history, to the entire state. A 5-day journey is taken by the class to experience life in the early to mid-1800’s in California. Read more…