The Hartsbrook School

Fourth Grade

4sketchWebDevelopmental Picture of the Fourth Grade Student

If third graders are like nomadic peoples, fourth graders are like the early settlers, keen not only to work their patch of land but also to know and own it. As nine and ten-year-olds, the children are seeking to know the world and their place in it. They have seen through the curriculum of third grade that people have lived successfully on earth before them. Now they want to know how, through the stories of their homeland and those of the people who have lived here.

Highlights of the Curriculum

In language arts, fourth graders are introduced to the Norse Gods, whose quirky personalities mirror their own turbulent ten-year-old selves. The trickery of Loki, the all-seeing presence of Odin, the power of Thor can be found in many a fourth grader on any given school day. Students are given more formal writing assignments in fourth grade. They learn to organize and develop a short, clear composition based on class-reviewed topics or their own reading or experience; they learn the components of a sentence and a paragraph. Spelling practice continues with correct spelling for 400 sight words and there are practice words of the week as well as occasional spelling quizzes.

In math, fourth graders exhibit this same maturing mental reasoning, able to conceptualize as they have never done before. They are ready to move from the whole to the parts and grasp the concept of fractions, learning not only how one can be divided into many parts, but that as one grows, so do the parts. Fourth graders continue to improve their earlier math skills, perfecting their automatic recall of basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts.

Through the study of local geography, fourth graders begin to have a better understanding of their unique place on the earth, learning stories about the formation of the valley and surrounding hills, exploring the watershed of the Connecticut River and hiking Mount Sugarloaf. They make local maps and study the first settlers of Massachusetts, from Native American tribes to the first European settlers. Field trips are taken to sites in the Connecticut River valley to experience local history.

For the first time in the grade school curriculum, fourth graders study science in a formal manner. The human being and animal blocks expose them to the differences between the human and animal spheres. Previously the younger children heard about the antics of animals in fairy tales, folk tales, and fables. Now the fourth grader is ready for the study of comparative anatomy—to learn about how the anatomy and physiognomy of animals like the mouse, eagle, lion, and cow intersect with that of the human being. The Human Being and the Animal block is the first science block of the grade school curriculum.

Subjects Studied

Language Arts Students review writing processes and language mechanics and write their first report on an animal as part of the Man and Animal Block. Class readers are introduced as is work on spelling and vocabulary. Class plays continue.
Mathematics Measurement work and strengthening of the four processes continues. Fractions are introduced and operations with fractions are practiced including common denominators and reducing and expanding fractions.
World Languages Students are exposed to the contrasting world languages cultures of French and German through oral instruction, which includes story, songs and games, and written work in a Spanish or German main lesson book.
Movement Students continue to move each day during the more active component of main lesson. There are also two recesses each day on our lower school playground and two periods of Games classes each week. Fourth graders learn new games and activities that call for control, awareness and agility as well as an added strategic element.
Eurythmy Eurythmy is an essential and unique part of the Waldorf curriculum. Incorporating aspects of both physical education (leaping, skipping, balance and coordination), and artistic content (music and verse). In eurythmy classes, the students work with content from main lesson and also learn more complicated patterns. Students have this movement art two periods/week.
Handwork Students tackle the symmetry and balance required in a cross stitch project. For the first time, students work on a project that is assembled from parts.
Music Students continue to sing with their teacher and expand their ability with the recorder. In orchestra class, the students join together in an ensemble.
Art Students continue with watercolor painting, beeswax modeling, form drawing and crayon drawing.