Fourth Grade: The Child and the Curriculum
Students in fourth grade have made a significant crossing as they move out of the early childhood years. They begin to see themselves as individuals comprising the whole. New territories are discovered both within themselves and in the world. This self-awareness can be seen in the confidence the students carry when moving into new areas of study. Eager to learn about the world, fourth graders need to be challenged and stretched in all aspects of their work. Through rhythmical activities the teacher channels the vast amount of energy that this age brings to the classroom. Concentration exercises are more complex, requiring teamwork and precision, e.g. bean bag toss. In addition, the teacher meets the student’s growing interest of the world by providing more separate curriculum subjects and more opportunities to work independently.
The language arts blocks feature Norse mythology with its cast of complex characters who show the flaws and frailty of humanity. Students begin to see and understand the differences in classmates, teachers, parents and even themselves. They work on spelling, composition, grammar, and punctuation through these powerful stories.
The wholeness of the mathematical experience of the first three grades expands in fourth grade as the world of fractions is introduced and the study of long division is deepened. The whole is fragmented into individual parts and for the first time the students experience numbers that are less than one.
In the fourth grade various other disciplines are taught more formally. The study of history and geography begins by examining local, natural surroundings. Reflecting the experience of separation from the world felt by the ten year old, map making becomes a central activity. Science too is brought more objectively to the students in their study of the relationships of man and animal. Children of this age are often described as being in the heart of childhood. They have a natural empathy for all living things, especially animals and enthusiastically study them from slugs to horses.
Socially, fourth graders see themselves as specific members of a family and of society. The need for rules, structure and fairness is understood by all, but not as easily followed. This need is often carried over into playground games, bookwork expectations, and homework scheduling. The teacher, to promote a healthy environment, guides the developing social awareness of the students. Their longing for rules and structure are met by class meetings, following the example of the Norsemen who met as a group to make decisions.
Grade 4 Morning Lesson Blocks: Stories of the Norse People, Local Geography, Grammar and Basic Composition, Man & Animal, Fractions, Long Division and Factoring, Class Play
Grade 4 Trips: Rock Island Camping and Biking Overnight Camping
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