In Fourth Grade, we begin to take an intense interest in our local environment. This is manifest in a study of animals we find locally as well as their various habitats. Whether we’re watching whales or bearing witness to migrating birds, we strive to find a way to be true to the animal in our writing and in our visual artwork. We also look around us at the geography of this place, and look back into the past, wondering who has lived here and how they might have adapted to this environment. The children study the myths and stories of the Pomo and other regional Native American tribes, and examine how the world has changed here since various European peoples have come to the area, including Russians, Spanish, Mexican, and American. In math, we delve deeply into the world of fractions, breaking the unit into smaller and smaller pieces and finding ways to build it back up again. Truly, the world becomes more complicated the more closely we examine it! Through the nurturing, encouraging environment the teachers strive to create in the classroom, the children are led to a place of confidence in their ability to meet the world in their own way, with their own unique challenges and strengths.
Revealing Strength, Courage, and Adventure
Developmental Picture of the Student
Fourth graders become more self-confident as their perceptions of the world sharpen. They also experience a stronger separation from their surroundings and become more independent. These developmental steps broaden the student’s perspective and reveal a world of endless, exciting possibilities. The fourth grader is curious, adventurous, and eager to explore new capacities for learning and creativity.
How the Curriculum Meets the Fourth Grader
Because of their growing independence, fourth graders are keen to make their own choices. Norse mythology--the primary lesson material for this stage--models the process of conscious choice and the responsibility for actions taken. These traditional tales foreground strength of character, courage, self-sacrifice, and perseverance while revealing hidden motives, and character fallibility. The stories highlight for students the gifts and the risks of exploring independence as free human beings. Through these myths, the language arts curriculum expands to introduce independent writing and grammar.
In fourth grade, students’ conception of the world—which once exhibited a magical wholeness—begins to break apart, and this is the appropriate time to introduce fractions. Through hands-on activities, the children discover the world of quantities between any two whole numbers. In science, students investigate diversity in the animal kingdom, and they learn research skills, which they use to create their first independent report on an animal of their choice. They also strengthen their reading and writing skills by drafting book reports.
Fourth graders continue to advance their work in music, art, and handwork by analyzing the complexity of Celtic knots and by creating elaborate needlepoint projects.
Geography and history are woven together to inspire in students a sense of the inter-relatedness of space, time, and culture. They learn how the earth’s geological movements formed the local environments around Mendocino, and they study local Native American history and culture, which reveals a rich, detailed, and integrated picture of the northern California region.
- Language Arts: Norse Mythology; grammar; writing (including the fountain pen); recitation of poetry
- Social Studies: Festival celebrations; Nordic culture; local geography/history; Native American practical life; map-making
- Science: "Human Being and Animal"; nature walks
- Math: Fractions; long multiplication, long division; multiplication/division tables (1-12) solidified
- World languages: Grammar; vocabulary; songs; dances; poetry; conversation
- Art: Wet-on-wet watercolor painting; clay modeling; crayon/colored pencil drawing, form drawing—particularly weaving patterns or Celtic knots
- Practical Arts: Cross-stitch; woodworking; gift-making
- Drama: Re-enactment of stories; class play; assembly performances
- Music: Diatonic flutes; singing rounds and choral music; strings ensemble
- Movement: Two outdoor recesses a day; Eurythmy; traditional dance; physical education; daily rhythm/coordination exercises
LIFE SKILLS & HOMEWORK EXPERIENCED IN 4TH GRADE
- Study vocabulary lists for weekly spelling reviews
- Practice writing with correct sentence structure
- Write an independent research paper on an animal
- Writing summarizing book reports
- Practice reading independently & in small groups
- Practice simple fractions with all four processes
- Practice with measurement, the four basic operations, long division and multi-digit multiplication
- Memorizing lines and actions for parts in the play
- Practice string instruments at home and in lessons