Grade 4


Reading Workshop strives to continue developing students into avid and skilled readers. We begin with a review of the routines of the reading workshop and previously learned comprehension strategies. Students also learn to identify and analyze literary elements, including plot, character, setting, problem and solution, and themes. Using realistic fiction chapter books, students are challenged to think deeply about characters—making inferences, building theories, and learning life lessons.  During a study of nonfiction, students apply their knowledge of nonfiction features to extract information from expository and hybrid texts. When concentrating on narrative nonfiction, students highlight the main ideas and supporting details within a biographical text. Students also delve into the genre of fantasy, focusing on making interpretations of characters and theme. The culminating unit for the year is an exploration of historical fiction, through the use of literature circles, or book clubs.  Students collaborate with peers as they read a shared text and participate in book club discussions.

Exposure to a variety of genres throughout 4th Grade enables students to develop the reading skills they need to become independent readers. Students make meaning of literature by reading and comprehending grade-level texts with fluency and expression. As they read, students demonstrate their understanding by making connections and describing character traits, motivations, actions, and feelings. These details help to illuminate the theme of a text and how point of view affects the voice and context of each piece. Students are encouraged to use context clues to understand the meaning of unknown words. They also learn to use both explicit and implicit information from the text to make predictions and logical inferences. As increasingly sophisticated readers, students identify details from a passage to summarize a story and to answer questions about the text. When reading nonfiction, students describe the overall structure of a nonfiction text and determine whether the information they read consists of fact or opinion. Information is integrated from multiple texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.


The Writing Workshop provides a framework in which students learn to develop longer narratives, essays, and an informational research piece. In the narrative realm, students publish a personal narrative, a realistic fiction story, and a memoir. Students write a personal essay about a topic of interest from their lives and a persuasive essay on a more universal subject. In tandem with our nonfiction unit in reading, students apply their social studies knowledge and nonfiction skills to write an informational text project on one topic consisting of an introductory piece, an expository essay, a memoir, and a persuasive essay. Throughout the year, students create multi-paragraph writing pieces and edit them critically through the five-step writing process: idea generation, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. In addition, students respond to texts in the form of discussion, summaries, and journal entries. As the genre of poetry is explored, students use mentor texts to develop a proficiency in using figurative language to express ideas. Students also engage in learning vocabulary, spelling rules, the purposes of writing, sentence structure, the parts of speech, punctuation, and capitalization. 

The writing curriculum fosters the development of a variety of essential writing
skills. As they practice the five-step process and produce writing pieces, students learn how to generate topics for their compositions as well as the ideas and details needed to craft them. Students learn to structure their writing with topic sentences, supporting details, conclusions, and logical sequences that include effective transitions between ideas, sentences, and paragraphs. They also learn to adjust the tone of their writing to match different genres such as realistic fiction or memoir. In composing narratives, students use dialogue and description to bring their stories to life. In students' informative pieces, they generate thesis statements that are supported with reasons and evidence and include facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, and examples. To collect the material they need for a nonfiction piece, students learn how to gather relevant information from experiences and print or digital sources and to take notes, categorize information, and provide a list of sources. Throughout the year, students come to an understanding that their writing benefits from planning, revision, and editing. As part of the editing process, they check spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and spelling, consulting references as needed.


The curriculum provides students with a balanced approach that is rich in real-world problem-solving opportunities. The 4th Grade structure emphasizes content within six major strands: number and numeration, operations and computation, data and chance, measurement and reference frames, geometry, patterns, functions, and algebra. Students develop an understanding of the meanings, uses, and representations of numbers, finding commonalities of and differences among whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percentiles. Students review facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, as well as develop procedures and models for these operations. Analysis and interpretation of data is essential in selecting and creating appropriate graphical representations and applying basic concepts of probability. An exploration of customary and metric systems is conducted as students learn to measure length, weight, angles, area, perimeter, and capacity. Students investigate characteristics and properties of two- and three- dimensional geometric shapes and apply transformations and symmetry. As an understanding of patterns and functions is developed, students use algebraic notation to read, write, and solve number sentences and learn the properties of the arithmetic operations.

Students in the 4th Grade are given numerous methods for skills practice and review and are encouraged to explain and discuss their thinking in their own words. Students use place value to read, write, and compare whole numbers and decimals. Additionally, they estimate and perform arithmetic operations on whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and percentiles. These concrete skills are further developed when solving word problems involving all four operations, money, elapsed time, calendars, temperature, capacity, weight, and distance. As students analyze numerical quantities in various forms, they compare sizes, recognize patterns, and show alternative ways to solve problems. Conventional notation is utilized when writing algebraic expressions and number sentences. Students recognize size in customary and metric units, describe the relationships between units of measurement within the same system, and use appropriate units and tools of measurement. Geometric language is used when identifying, comparing, and creating lines, angles, and plane and solid figures. As data is collected, students are expected to represent this information with a variety of charts and graphs and analyze the data. Throughout all units of study, students formulate conclusions based on observation and mathematical judgment and explain their thoughts and strategies to further develop their understanding of these concepts.

Social Studies

Through the use of primary documents and nonfiction texts, students develop an understanding about the formation of the United States. The initial geography unit, which includes map-reading skills and topography, provides the students with a foundation for the year’s concepts. The study of U.S. history begins with Colonial America and some of the aspects of life during that time period. Students explore why people moved to the British colonies and how the colonies acted as individual communities. Through the investigation of the individual colonies, students learn the history and culture of each. From there, the students learn the causes of the American Revolution, engaging in a discussion reflective of both sides of the conflict. Through mock situations, students experience some of the challenges faced during that tumultuous time. Students then investigate the Declaration of Independence, learning about the development of the document and how its key components relate to the end of the Revolutionary War. Next, the students study the Constitution, identifying the structures of our government and the concepts in the Bill of Rights. Once they understand the formation of the new nation, students explore the country’s movement westward. Through a study of the Louisiana Purchase, students trace the events that led to this deal and learn about its significance for the expansion of the country. The students then follow the Lewis and Clark expedition, studying the topography of the journey, the plant and animal life found along the way, and the Native American tribes that the explorers encountered. While researching the Oregon Trail, students form an understanding of the challenges and forces that created this great migration of pioneers and expanded our country’s borders.

Over the course of the year, students develop an array of skills to help them demonstrate a deep understanding of this content. Students are expected to describe political, social, and cultural changes in society and how cultural contributions from various groups form a national identity. With the identification of the different causes and effects of conflict and cooperation among individuals, groups, societies, and nations related to politics, economics, geography, ethnicity/race/gender, and culture, students recognize the impact of major historical events. By identifying the elements of major political systems, students can compare and contrast a monarchy and a democracy. Students then describe the organization and major responsibilities of the various levels of government, explaining how citizens can monitor, evaluate, and influence actions of their government. The idea of commerce, such as the ways people satisfy their basic needs and wants through the production of goods and services, allows students to realize its importance throughout history. Geography concepts, such as location, distance, direction, scale, movement, and region, are intertwined with the skills of each unit.


Students begin with studying density and buoyancy. They test and compare the densities of an assortment of everyday objects, then compare the densities of those objects to the calculated density of water. “Density towers” are created with multiple liquids that form layers. The students also examine buoyancy by designing and 3-D printing their own boats using CAD software. Next, the 4th Grade studies physics, force, and simple machines. The class starts by studying the forces of push and pull, demonstrating Newton’s First Law of Inertia. Using a simple machines kit, students build and replicate pulleys, levers, inclined planes, and wheels. They apply their knowledge of simple machines to plan their own Rube Goldberg-style creations and then make posters.  Afterwards, the 4th Graders moved onto a unit on inventions and innovations. They study the history of inventors and patents, using Leonardo da Vinci’s inspiration to come up with futuristic ideas. Next, they use computers to research a specific invention and look up similar creations in the U.S. Patent Database. This leads to their capstone project, which is to build a prototype or a working invention and to explain its function. Some students made their own creations using building supplies, while others designed their inventions so that they could be made on the 3-D printer.

Finally, 4th Grade students move into a study of forensic science, focusing heavily on developing a solid set of lab skills. The students learn how to use microscopes, examining plant and animal cells, including cells from their own cheeks. Students practice many methods of measurement, developing precise and accurate data collection skills while separating qualitative and quantitative observations. These skills are reinforced when students solve Léman-based Whodunnit mysteries, using observation to collect clues and study fingerprints.


This course reviews and builds on previously acquired skills. Students begin to take creative risks with the language, while practicing listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In this course reading and writing become a new focus. Students learn to recognize and write more characters, and through differentiated proficiency-based performance tasks, students learn to interpret short paragraph-length passages through listening and reading and engage in presentational and interpersonal communication through writing and speaking. Through learning language, students are also exposed to cultural celebrations from different Mandarin speaking countries.


This course reviews and builds on previously learned content and acquired skills. Through differentiated proficiency-based performance tasks, students begin to develop basic writing and speaking skills through reading and listening to meaningful and comprehensible language in a variety of everyday life contexts. Students learn to interpret short paragraph-length passages through listening and reading and engage in presentational and interpersonal communication through writing and speaking. The exploration of Hispanic cultural celebrations takes place throughout the course.


This course reviews and builds on previously learned content and acquired skills. Through differentiated proficiency-based performance tasks, students begin to develop basic writing and speaking skills through reading and listening to meaningful and comprehensible language in a variety of everyday life contexts. Students learn to interpret short paragraph-length passages through listening and reading and engage in presentational and interpersonal communication through writing and speaking. Exploration of Francophone cultural celebrations takes place throughout the course.

Visual Arts

Students in 4th Grade are encouraged to develop their ability to create and respond to meaning in visual imagery, to experiment and problem solve, to express their own ideas, and to reflect on their finished work and works in progress.

Our focus in 4th Grade is Self. Our first project is a self-portrait relief print. Students used their understanding of facial proportions to create and stylize their facial features for their print. They continue to think about Self while working on a ceramic sculpture of themselves as “supers” by creating a ceramic super-self. We then move on to a backpack study, which includes an observational drawing and a painting of their backpack or school bag. Students explore how belongings can be an extension of personal expression.


The woodworking curriculum is centered on four main principles: the practice of individual safety and awareness of others; teamwork and cooperation between students; the development of tool usage; and a lasting sense of accomplishment and success. The overall goal of the program is for students to increase motor skills and tool usage, as well as develop a strong sense of personal accomplishment, success, and ownership by completing meaningful projects. Students learn how to use straight and coping saws, safety goggles, files, c-clamps, hammers and wood glue to build their projects. Once the project is assembled, students design their project with paint and ink to give it a finished quality and promote ownership and achievement.

Fourth Grade students begin by creating a freestanding sculpture or a “personal totem” based on totems made by Northwestern Native Americans. Each student draws, designs, and builds a sculpture that consists of shaped wood pieces that represent themselves. These shapes are then assembled and painted to stand vertically from the base. The goal of the project is for students to be self-directed with their creative decisions in Woodworking and to successfully design and build a sculptural art object.

The second project in 4th Grade woodworking is process driven. The students are tasked with employing all of the tools and hardware with which they have gained proficiency to design and create a piece of their choosing, either individually or collaboratively. Once finished they will give a presentation to the class explaining the purpose of the project and how and why it was constructed.


In 4th Grade, students apply their knowledge from their previous musical experiences to new concepts and ideas through performance-based ensembles in either Band or Chorus. They develop their musical literacy, hone their musicianship skills, and work together to achieve the common goal of performing as an ensemble.  Students explore and explain how our contributions as individuals help our community to excel as a whole.


The 4th Grade Band serves as the introductory ensemble in our 4th-12th Grade Band program. The Léman Manhattan Band program utilizes Concert Band instrumentation and students can choose between the following instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, french horn, trombone, euphonium or percussion. In addition to whole group ensemble instruction, Band students will take a weekly lesson (choice of group lessons at no charge or private lessons for a fee) on their specific instrument. 

In the 4th Grade Beginning Band, students learn how to assemble their instruments, how to utilize proper instrument carriage and hand placement, and how to produce a sound. During rehearsals and weekly lessons, students learn how to read written notation and learn instrument-specific skills. Ear training, listening skills, ensemble skills, and a basic music vocabulary of musical terms/symbols are also emphasized. Attention will be given to equipment care and maintenance, as well as effective

practice habits. In addition to beginning level folk songs, rhythmic exercises, and the concert Bb scale, this class prepares Grade 1 Concert Band literature in a variety of genres. The performance component of the class involves participation in the winter and spring concerts.


Lower School students begin their choral music experience in the 4th Grade. It is the beginning level ensemble in our 4th-12th Grade Chorus program. A primary focus of the class is developing healthy vocal technique. Students begin class each day with a physical warmup and a variety of vocal warmup exercises. They think critically about the ways that posture and breathing impacts their singing. Students demonstrate the ability to maintain their own independent part while singing a variety of rounds and folk songs. They prepare for performances by matching intonation and diction, singing in unison, and singing in multiple parts as they rehearse a wide variety of elementary choral repertoire. They develop music literacy by reading, writing, and dictating tonal patterns, identifying notes on the staff, reading melodies, and describing different types of intervals. In addition, Chorus students work on developing ensemble skills and collaborate to create a productive work environment. The 4th Grade Chorus performs twice per year in the winter and spring concerts.

Physical Education

Fourth Grade students participate in both competitive and cooperative activities. Our curriculum offers a balance that allows each student to be successful throughout the school year. 

Through warmup games and activities, students practice jogging and basic fitness concepts. Students participate in a variety of team sport units, including soccer, basketball, floor hockey, diamond games, and badminton. During these units, students review the rules of the game, are reintroduced to positions and how to play them, and discuss offensive and defensive strategies. Small-sided games are played so that students can apply those strategies to real situations. Fitness concepts are introduced and added to each unit so that they build upon previously taught skills, thus allowing students to make deeper connections between how their body works and the activities in class. Our cooperative units include Tinikling, scooter, and adventure/strategy games. The highlight of our year is the circus arts unit, which incorporates eye-hand coordination, balance and manipulation. Students practice juggling balls, manipulating devil sticks and yoyos, walking and balancing on a slackline and stilt walking. The culmination of the school year is our Lower School Field Day. On this day, students compete in relay races and activities, displaying good sportsmanship and respect for classmates.


The year begins with a quick review of pool safety rules and routines. Once in the pool, students review skills learned previously and build upon those skills to enhance their stroke development, endurance, and strength needed for all aspects of swimming. Each lesson allows for practice of these skills and the time to develop the endurance needed to be a capable swimmer.

Students participate in drill sets to help develop technique for freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke. Lessons include pull buoys and kickboards to help strengthen both the pulling and kicking phases of each stroke. We emphasize the value of long, relaxed strokes as well as patterns and rhythms. We promote swimming not only as a competitive sport, but also as a lifetime sport.

Fourth Graders love our junior lifeguard unit. Students learn the basics of being a junior lifeguard which includes treading water, surface diving, stride and compact jumping, assessing a scene, performing a reaching assist and most importantly, learning how to keep themselves safe while helping others. Our last unit of the year is games and activities, which includes relay racing and water polo.

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