Grade levels » 4th Grade

4th Grade

4th grade

Reading in 4th Grade

Much of the 4th grade reading curriculum teaches students how to analyze the books they read. Rather than just understand the plot and information given in a text, students are encouraged to think about the messages and how they relate to their own lives. They also compare texts to each other and make connections both within one text and across multiple texts.

In short, 4th graders begin to learn how to think and talk about a text to find deeper meanings and messages. This is done both with texts students read independently and those read by the whole class or smaller groups of students. Teachers may often use a class read-aloud to show students strategies for thinking about and analyzing what they read, encouraging them to do this in their own reading. Students also do this as they write in more detail about the texts they read. 

To build reading skills, your 4th grader:

  • Uses specific examples from the text to explain characters’ motivations, main events, central themes, or ideas about a text.
  • Uses the context of a text to determine the meaning of a word.
  • Understands and can explain the differences between narrative prose, drama, and poetry.
  • Identifies and refers to the different parts of poems and plays, such as verses, settings, and characters.
  • Interprets and connects information from illustrations, graphs, charts, or other sources related to the text.
  • Identifies, compares, and contrasts different perspectives from which texts are written (for example, first and third person).
  • Compares and contrasts the way different texts address the same issue, theme, or topic.
  • Makes connections between people, events, or important ideas in a text.
  • Uses previous knowledge to read unfamiliar multi-syllable words.
  • Reads grade-level texts with accurate comprehension, pacing, and expression.

Writing in 4th Grade

Much of the 4th grade writing curriculum focuses on developing writing that has clarity and structure, and that uses reasons, facts, and details to support and strengthen arguments. Fourth graders are taught to organize their writing, ensure that it flows well, and group together related components. As students learn to think more deeply about concepts they are taught, they are encouraged to write in deeper ways as well. They do this by going beyond simply stating the facts — they express ideas, make connections, and provide details and emotions when appropriate.

To build writing skills, your 4th grader:

  • Writes opinion pieces that express a point of view; have an introduction, a conclusion, reasons, and facts to support the opinion; and group together related ideas.
  • Writes informative/explanatory pieces that present information on a topic, use facts and details, and group together related topics; provides introductions and conclusions in these pieces.
  • Writes narrative pieces that use specific details, descriptions, and dialogue to convey a real event; includes an introduction and conclusion in each piece.
  • Plans, revises, and edits her writing.
  • Uses technology to publish, research, and communicate with others under the proper guidance of an adult or teacher.
  • Types with a beginner’s accuracy and ability (for example, types one page of text within one sitting).
  • Completes research projects by taking notes, organizing them, and presenting them; lists the texts and resources used.
  • Writes for both long (over weeks) and shorter (one sitting or a couple of days) periods of time.

Math in 4th Grade

In 4th grade, students master and further their multiplication, division, and general computation skills. They learn how to solve real-life word problems using the four basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. By the end of the year, they are expected to do all of these operations with greater accuracy and speed. And while they don’t have to whiz through their work, they need to be able to do it at a pace that shows they understand how to solve problems without backtracking or going through too many steps.

Fourth graders are also encouraged to explain how they solve problems in detailed and specific ways, both verbally and through writing, which helps them practice their writing and analytic skills. In 4th grade, students still use visuals, math tools, and manipulatives (such as base blocks, fake money, dice, and shapes), especially to learn and explain how to solve problems with fractions.

To build math skills, your 4th grader:

  • Uses addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to solve word problems, including word problems that require multiple steps and computations.
  • Adds and subtracts multi-digit numbers.
  • Multiplies a number that has up to 4 digits by a 1-digit number (for example, 2345 x 6) and multiplies two 2-digit numbers by each other (for example, 13 x 16).
  • Solves division equations with remainders.   
  • Solves word problems that measure distance, time, size, money, area, and perimeter.
  • Predicts answers to word problems and equations based on knowledgeable estimation.
  • Understands the concepts of and learns the multiples and factors for numbers 1-100.
  • Follows a pattern or set of guidelines to determine a number. For example: Start with 5. Add 3 five times and subtract 1. What number are you left with?
  • Compares and explains why one fraction is bigger or smaller than another using visuals and/or common denominators.
  • Begins to add and subtract fractions, including within word problems.
  • Begins to write and compare fractions as decimals.
  • Reads and writes multi-digit numbers using bases of ten and expanded forms. For example: 4,538 = 4 thousands, 5 hundreds, 3 tens, and 8 ones.
  • Compares multi-digit numbers using < and >. 
  • Rounds multi-digit numbers to any place. 
  • Creates and uses graphs (like line plots) to represent data and answer questions. 
  • Begins to learn about, measure, and decipher the angles of a shape. 
  • Explains his thinking and how he solves math equations and word problems, both verbally and through writing.

Science in 4th Grade

Fourth graders expand their science skills as they conduct experiments and use them to further their learning. The reading and writing work fourth graders do supports their science learning in a big way — they read nonfiction texts, take notes, research, and support their writing with facts. In fact, some 4th grade students might write informative or opinion pieces about a scientific topic they study.

As in other grades, the specific topics studied in science vary by state. However, common topics studied in 4th grade include earth and space, plants, the cycle of life, animals, electricity and magnetism, and motion and sound. Students also often learn about these topics in relation to their location and where they live. Consult your child’s teacher or research your state’s science standards for more details.

To build science skills your 4th grader:

  • Conducts experiments using the scientific method. There are many different ways to present "the scientific method," but here's a basic example:  1) Questions, observes, and researches; 2) Develops a hypothesis (based on observations and research); 3) Makes predictions; 4) Experiments; 5) Develops a conclusion
  • Develops further questions to research and experiment based on previous experiments and conclusions.
  • Develops further questions to research and experiment based on previous experiments and conclusions.
  • Writes about and orally presents the findings and conclusion of an experiment.
  • Researches and takes notes on information on a variety of topics, using both text and digital resources.
  • Collects and uses data to support experiments and what she learns.
  • Experiments with different types of materials and different states of matter, such as solid, liquid, and gas.
  • Works independently, with partners, in small groups, and as a class to conduct experiments and create projects.

Social Studies in 4th Grade

Social studies in the 4th grade encourages students to deepen their reading, writing, and analytical skills, as well as expand knowledge and appreciation of their own local and American history. Students compare different perspectives using both primary and secondary texts. They then write informative pieces and essays.

Fourth graders also use technology to research past and current events. In all of their work, they are taught to analyze the reasons why certain things occur and form strong supported opinions and ideas, which encourages them to think more deeply about the world. Since most social studies curricula are specific to a location, consult your child’s teacher or your state’s social studies standards to find out which specific communities and aspects of the community will be covered. While many curricula differ according to state, many 4th grade classes study the founding and early years of American society and government.


To build social studies skills, your 4th grader:

  • Studies and uses maps to gain a deeper understanding of geography and how geography affects a community.
  • Researches, organizes, and presents his research on various topics, events, and figures.
  • Discusses topics focusing on explaining his opinion using specific details, facts, and reasons to support his opinion.
  • Writes essays that state an opinion; includes supporting facts for that opinion.
  • Reads primary and secondary sources about different events, people, and topics.
  • Uses technology to research both past and current events and topics. 
  • Deepens his understanding of government and civic responsibility.
  • Deepens his understanding of basic economic principles and how one’s community affects his or her economy and business.
  • Uses and creates multiple types of sources including art, film, poetry and fiction to learn and show what he has learned about historical events and social studies topics.
  • Understands different concepts, such as cause and effect, and explains why certain things happen or happened.
  • Compares different events and retellings of the same event.
  • Discusses American holidays and important days and events as they approach.