Fourth and fifth grade mark the transitional years between the lower grades and Middle School. Students are given lockers and rotate between three teachers. As fourth graders, they take their first overnight field trip to Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown. The Thanksgiving Feast and Immigration Day are two traditional fourth grade events that we celebrate annually.
Using knowledge of formulas and measurement, students also create scale drawings of their classroom and bedrooms. These projects emphasize accuracy, creative design, attention to detail, and presentation. The students keep an interactive notebook and are encouraged to use their notes in preparation for assessments. Homework practice is given on a daily basis.
Grammar is the foundation of the curriculum, and writing mechanics and diagramming sentences are an integral part of the class. Writing well-developed sentences and applying grammar mechanics to every writing assignment is required. In this way, the students are using what they learn rather than learning skills in isolation. Spelling, Words of the Day, and grammar are taught in an integrated manner. The students write a research paper on a planet, using research and writing techniques taught in English, to prepare a Science paper. Expository and creative writing assignments are used to teach the writing process from brainstorming to sharing with an audience.
The literature course in fourth grade uses a study of novels and short stories to expand students’ intellectual depth of thinking, reading, writing, and discussion. Students will grow comfortable with the terms and common elements of literature, including genres, aspects of plot, and literary devices. In addition, time and energy are spent learning important reading skills, supported by work designed to increase reading comprehension through exposure to different types of text and question formats.
The year begins with a look at the different native tribes and cultures of the Americas. Students discuss primary and secondary sources and reliable and unreliable sources. They move on to explore the arrival and impact of Europeans in the New World, as well as the founding of the Jamestown settlement, Yorktown, and Williamsburg, and their prominence in Virginia history. Students are taught about life in colonial times, including life on a plantation, slavery, and the Underground Railroad. The many factors contributing to and culminating in the road to the Revolution are also discussed.
A highlight of this year is the overnight trip to Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown which brings history to life for these students.
Fourth graders conclude their year in History with a look at their unique and individual heritages. Students research and celebrate their ancestry with a day long event, Immigration Day, which focuses on the trials and journey many of their ancestors made when they came to America.
Science becomes a daily class beginning in fourth grade. Students are taught important critical thinking skills: to question, to think like scientists using the scientific process skills, and to use the scientific method. In Life Science, students focus on the classification of plants and animals, life cycles, water cycles, and energy flow through hands-on activities like using a microscope, documenting plant dissections, and researching biomes to create a visual that illustrates the climate, environment, plant and animal adaptations, and food webs indigenous to that biome. In Earth Science, students investigate the solar system, space exploration, and new space technology. They will research a planet, write their first research paper in composition class, and create a travel brochure for their planet. Students discover what creates weather, and construct weather stations to predict weather using a map, a barometer, an anemometer, a cloud finder, and a wind vane. In Physical Science, students study electricity, magnetism, motors, matter, and chemical/physical changes through creating circuits, making a light bulb, constructing simple motors, and proving the principles of magnetism. Students use spring scales, pan scales, graduated cylinders and metric rulers for quantitative descriptions of matter. In Health Science students study the structure and functions of the ear and the eye.