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Homeschool fourth grade is a transition year. By 4th grade, we’re in the middle of our skills expansion and we really get into content topics. My students have their foundational skills solid now, so we can grow them and build on them into the the skills that make learning fun. And because they have the foundations, we can start to explore history, science, geography and the arts more deeply.
This year, my middle child is almost half-way through grade four and will be doing grade five as well, I expect. But for this post, I’ll focus on what we’ve done and are doing for our grade four year.
What are my 4th grade goals?
By fourth grade, I expect my children to have mastered the skills of reading, writing and manipulation of numbers. Now we start working on writing stories and reports, and using our spelling and grammar skills. We continue our work in making connections and forming opinions, and using what we’ve learned to back up those opinions. And in math, we expand our arithmetic skills to include multiplication and division, and we begin fractions and decimals, with the emphasis on problem solving.
We do a lot more in the content subjects in 4th grade, now that we’ve got the foundational skills down. We’ll do history studies, moving on to Ancient Greece, Rome, northern Europe and the Vikings, and Ancient India. We’ll also continue with science, moving on to the underwater world of our oceans. And we’ll focus our geography onto the continent of Europe. Finally, we’re going to continue our studies in French.
Also, we start a year of art history, looking at the early beginnings of fine art and drama. This year, I hope to attend a few plays and musicals. I’m also considering basic beginner dance lessons, and possibly even ballroom dancing, to go with the music lessons and music theory.
What curriculum am I using?
We’re eclectic learners, so I try for a multi-media based approach. But we do worksheets and textbooks along with our videos, songs, computer games and flashcards. Here’s what I’m using this year:
We continue our reading studies with BJU Reading 4. We also do a little bit of poetry, sprinkled in between. BJU covers both popular short stories, and excerpts from longer stories, as well as non-fiction articles and descriptions. I really like how the workbooks aren’t just Q&A, but really help to get my student involved in what she’s reading.
My students really enjoy the material too. This year, I caught my 4th grader reading the reader before we even started school!
I’m doing a combination of writing and grammar studies through Rod and Staff’s English 4. I love the format of Rod and Staff’s language arts program. Each lesson has a short self-teaching excerpt in the textbook, as well as a teacher’s manual for more interaction. And there are both oral and written exercises, meaning that it works for all learning styles.
I love Rod and Staff’s spelling program, so this year we’re doing Rod & Staff Spelling 4 and 5. Rather than doing one lesson a day, the lessons have now gotten bigger, so we’re doing one part a day. There are 3 parts per lesson. This is more than just a basic spelling program. It covers etymology and vocabulary too. So students learn more than just how to spell, but why to spell, along with a little bit of the history of our language.
Because we started Spelling 4 last year, my student is half-way through it already. I expect to finish Spelling 5 as well this year.
By 4th grade, we’re no longer doing penmanship. But we aren’t quite ready for literature yet. However, we’ll also do a speech competition this year, so my girls are already memorizing their poems and crafting their speeches.
My girl will be doing the Grade 4 and 5 curriculum from my favorite math program Math Mammoth. I bought the entire curriculum (Gr 1-7) plus the supplementary workbooks for under $300, using special bundle discounts and sales. Because they’re digital printables, my only cost now is the cost of printing (for me, it’s approximately $3 per book!).
I say we’ll be doing 4 and 5, because she’s half-way through the Gr 4 material already. We had started the Grade 4 year last year. I expect to finish Grade 5 this year. Note: Math Mammoth seems to be a bit advanced for its grade levels.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love lapbooks! The ability to add in other resources and projects is awesome, and we can display our learning in a variety of ways. We can draw or take pictures, document experiments, and do short little reports or notetaking on shape books. And we can get really in depth on a topic.
This year’s topic is all about the undersea world. We’ll look at ocean habitats, vertebrates and invertebrates, the ocean floor, sharks, whales, mollusks and shells. I’m hoping to hit up the aquarium as well, so we can see the environment and the animals up close.
For history, we cover Ancient Greece and Rome in 4th grade. We’ll also look at the northern parts of Europe, with some biographies of early Celtic and Germanic leaders. And we’re going to look at Ancient India and the Vikings at the end of the year, as a transition to our studies of Medieval Europe next year.
Since our history focus is on Ancient Europe, our geography program is all about modern Europe. We’ll look at Europe as a continent, using this workbook on Europe (affiliate link).
We are doing drawing and fine art skills this year, along with art history. I bought a “learn to draw” workbook, because I couldn’t find the one I really wanted (Drawing Textbook by Bruce McIntyre). I’m also looking to connect with drama this year, by hopefully getting tickets to a play. We’re local to a really really good drama festival, so I’m hoping to catch at least one of those, this season.
This year, I’ve purchased music lesson books, and I have my keyboard (finally) set up. So it’s ready to start basic piano and theory lessons. I plan on assigning daily 15 minute practice sessions with a once-a-week 15 min lesson for my student, along with her 2nd grade sister. I expect they’ll play around on the keyboard and have a lot of fun, but I know they’ll both pick up something about rhythm and reading music too.
My girl is asking for violin lessons, as well. So we’ll see what I can arrange.
Given that we live in Canada, learning the other official language seems a natural part of our education. I’m not a native speaker, but I do have enough that I’m comfortable teaching the basics to my children, because I grew up near Quebec, the main French-language part of Canada.
My 4th grader has been doing French for a couple of years now, so we’re on to FrenchSmart 7. I like these programs because they teach the basics of vocabulary and grammar, without expecting fluency quickly. Once we have the basics down, I’ll look at conversation classes or community classes, if there’s a desire to learn more.
So that’s our Fourth Grade year.
Fourth grade is a bit more demanding on my student than previous years, but that’s because it’s a transition year. So formal seatwork takes her between 2-3 hours every day. But then she’s free to play, read, draw, or explore her own interests.
Are you doing fourth grade this year? What curriculum or materials are you planning to use, if any?