The Fourth Grader exhibits a new-found independence and a developing intellect. They begin to explore their world with greater awareness. Local history and geography expanded into the state in which they live is part of this journey. Many enlivened and thought-provoking discussions are possible through the study of the Native American experience such as the settlers, the pioneers, the stagecoaches, the Gold Rush, the Pony Express and the Transcontinental Railroad. The study of science also expands, ranging from basic cell structure and measuring longitude and latitude, to the solar system and a planetary research project.
The children write both descriptive and narrative paragraphs creating living pictures with their words. Continuing study of the parts of speech is directly linked to this expansion in writing style. As the children discover further wonders of the animal kingdom, they apply their new writing skills to the creation of an animal research report. The study of zoology is a wonderful opportunity to shape the nature and attitude of scientific inquiry and enhance their powers of observation for the world around them.
As the child moves through the year, the pull between their younger self and the person they will become is met with the introduction of fractions. The idea that different things in the right amounts can be put together to make a whole are soothing to the student. However, learning fractions can be tricky, as fractions represent the threshold that divides “arithmetic” from “mathematics”. It is the first time the student will be working with numbers in a form that is conceptual, as well as, experiential. To be successful in fractions, a student must be able to factor quickly. To be able to factor quickly, the child must know their times tables without using their fingers for support.