When describing a fourth grader a lot of exclamation marks are needed, because they are always full of life! The best response to their high energy and intensity is to be consistent, calm and light hearted. Fourth graders are self- critical and demand fairness. Fourth graders enjoy laughter and playing games, but they do not do well with competition in large groups that can trigger arguments. Gentle joking and laughter are important but sarcasm can wound feelings. These students often are challenged by organizational skills. The work in fourth grade gets harder and they need to manage it more independently.
Books, books, and more books fill the curriculum as fourth graders become sophisticated readers. They can use root words (words that are the basis for other words, such as “act” in “action”), context clues (looking for clues in the surrounding text and images in the story), and word endings to figure out new words. They’ll spend long periods of time reading and writing on their own. Teachers introduce genres such as myths and legends, fantasy and adventure. Fourth graders relate characters and other story elements to their own lives, and empathize with the characters most like them.
Fourth graders begin to use research tools, such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, library and the Internet, to gather information independently on a topic. Most importantly, they start to learn to organize this information into paragraphs, essays, projects, and presentations that help students synthesize their learning — although their work is appropriately far from “perfect.” They develop a writing style where their personality comes through as well as skills to help them edit their work.
Fourth graders read, write, compare, add, subtract, multiply, and divide with very large whole numbers. They do more equations with fractions and decimals and learn about prime numbers (numbers that can only be divided by themselves and 1). They solve problems about factors (one of two or more numbers that can be multiplied) and multiples (a number that can be divided exactly by a smaller number) and explore geometry formulas for determining perimeter and area, and for measuring angles. Fourth graders figure out conversion problems, such as determining the number of minutes in an hour, or ounces in a pound. They not only read graphs, tables, and charts but should be able to create them from data they’ve collected.
Fourth graders begin to compare complex systems in a complex manner. This can mean looking at changes in the Earth over long periods of time, observing the water cycle, or understanding the interactions between organisms and their environment. Students work on projects that ask them to build hypotheses and make predictions. Science topics may include matter and its different states, forms of energy, and the solar system.
Fourth grade social studies typically move from learning about the local community to the history of the students’ home state. Students will learn about the first people to live in the area, explore changes in state populations over time, and how different people and cultures have adapted to and influenced the state. They’ll learn to place major events in the state’s history in chronological order. Local and state government structure will be introduced, and students will learn about the government offices responsible for making, enforcing, and interpreting state laws.