- Norse mythology
- Reading, grammar, composition
- Form drawing
- Mathematics, including fractions
- Local history and geography
- Natural science of animals
- Recorder playing
- Music notation
- Stringed instruments
- Foreign languages
- Physical education
Strength and boldness grow
Grade four is when 9- and 10-year-olds have fully emerged from the dreaminess of early childhood. The blissful time of early childhood has passed, and the children are awakening to a new consciousness of their separateness from the world around them.
As they emerge from the more sheltered years of the first three grades, fourth graders are ready to step out of their immediate surroundings and discover local geography and historical landmarks. Geography begins with a map of the classroom, the school and its grounds and moving out to the surrounding towns, hills rivers and lakes of New Hampshire. Children learn about the first settlers and their way of life, and culminate their study with a three-day trip to the White Mountains.
Norse myths directly address the inner experiences of this time. Important moral qualities are to be discovered in these tales from the North, especially those that point to personal sacrifice for the benefit of others and to the eventual consequences resulting from actions of cruelty or dishonesty. Children delight in the trickery and escapades of Loki, either playing tricks on Giants or deviously beguiling the Gods so that they engage in some foolish activity.
With objectivity comes science
The study of the animal kingdom begins with a focus on the human being, its relationship to the cosmos and to the three other kingdoms of nature: the minerals, plants and animals. A great variety of animals are studied looking at their characteristics and habitat, culminating in each student taking on a research project of their own. This is the first major project undertaken mostly at home with guidance from the teacher.
Language integrates with other studies
Language arts weave their way throughout Norse mythology, human and animal studies and local geography. Children begin to write their own compositions and book reports, take dictation as well as continue to copy from the board. The emphasis is on spelling, sentence structure and more defined parts of speech, such as prepositions. Learning to read evolves to reading to learn.
Mathematics proceeds from wholes to parts
Grade four introduces children to what a fraction is and what the numbers symbolize. They learn to add and subtract fractions, convert improper fractions to mixed numbers, find common denominators and multiply and divide fractions.
Math requires regular practice aside from the main lesson blocks. To this end, children review times tables, solve word problems and do mental math regularly.
The arts introduce new challenges and rhythms
Music takes a whole new turn with the introduction of music notation and learning a stringed instrument. Recorder practice continues as an everyday activity, as well as poetry recitation. Watercolor painting becomes increasingly concerned with form and brush technique. Slant line technique is introduced as a new drawing skill to help the children transition from the beeswax blocks and sticks to the sharp point of a colored pencil.
Lessons emphasize creating form through color, in contrast to the purely linear approach taken in form drawing, where many intricately interweaving forms are practiced.