Grade Four Curriculum

Mountain Laure Waldorf School - Grade 4Having crossed the metaphoric Rubicon in third grade, the ten-year-old child stands in a different relationship to the world. The transition from early childhood is complete; the transition into puberty has not yet begun. In the midst of separateness and questioning, even defiance, the child’s newly emerging ego consciousness seeks reassurance and an uprightness in the world around. The ten-year-old’s zest for life, quest for knowledge and intense desire to socialize can present challenges to some of the established rhythms of the first three years.The curriculum provides the child with many expressions of conflict and separation, of confrontation, indicating paths for healthy resolution and integration. The curriculum draws from two streams: Culture and Nature. In such subjects as history the children will explore their connection to the world and their role in it.

The shift now begins to occur from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” with the children beginning to read for informational purposes as well as enjoyment. Book reports and animal projects are assigned and independent writing begins. With themes from the main lesson material, which include Norse mythology, animal studies Indigenous People studies and local geography.
Children with reading challenges will have extra support from a professional, and the requirements will be modified to fit their needs. Everyone is expected to work to the best of their ability.

Poems and verses are also learned throughout the year and grammar is taught from these verbal, reading and writing exercises. The teacher may introduce dictation as a writing exercise. The children also begin composing sentences and paragraphs in their own words. The new elements of speech that are introduced to the children may include verb tense, prepositions, conjunctions, proper nouns and interjections, as well as a constant review of the parts of speech that were learned in third grade. The teacher will individually assess each child’s reading progress and require reading practice at home as well as at school. In addition, fourth grade students write book reports and reports on other subjects, such as an animal of their choice, and possibly other topics concerning their local geography.

The class play imbues and enriches the themes of the year. The children embody the characters they have studied, bringing them alive and their inner life. Fourth grade students are ready to speak their own parts and are cast with character and temperament in mind. The class play is a memorable event that the whole community enjoys.

The fourth grade student is now familiar with double-digit multiplication and long division, which is practiced throughout the year. Morning exercises include the continuing recitation of the times tables up to 12, typically using a rhythmic element such as short-short-long. A general review of the four processes is also ongoing in a variety of forms, including mental math, worksheets and work on the board.

Fractions are introduced in fourth grade, which applies all the processes that the children have learned thus far. Teachers attempt to make the study of fractions experiential by bringing real life shared experiences using manipulatives from baking, games and artwork.

With an understanding of the root meanings of these words,numerator, denominator, factor, multiple etc. the children begin to practice the operations and learn the rules of solving equations concerning fractions and factoring.

The fourth grade student considers the relationships between human beings and animals, from the spiritual to the practical. The children explore the characteristics of animals through stories and observation. Several animals are also studied extensively through drawing.

Mountain Laure Waldorf School - Grade 4GEOGRAPHY
The formal study of geography begins in fourth grade with an exploration of the students’ immediate surroundings. In the first geography block, the class typically draws freehand maps of their classroom, homes, school, neighborhoods, town and the route to the school, developing a clear sense of the four cardinal directions: north, south, east and west.
From there the lesson moves up to the Hudson River, explores the rich history of towns and manufacturing along the way, and ends up back at our school here in New Paltz. The Hudson River provides a link between our local history and geography that is rich in factual and imaginative stories.

In the second block, they move on from our local Hudson Valley geography to that of New York State. They learn how different land formations were created through climate and other changes and how these changes affected the relationship between human beings and the land.

The study of local history could start with the creation myth of the Indigenous Peoples of the Hudson Valley and move into the historical accounts of how the European settlement of North America affected the Native Americans. The mythology of the indigenous people – in this case the Lenape and Iroquois – is presented, as well as legends and/or stories of the earliest Europeans to settle the land. This once more weaves together the mythic strains of cultural history with the factual documented history of the more recent arrivals to American shores. This braiding together in the lower grades of cultural and historical human experiences becomes the foundation upon which the study of history in the upper grades is built.

Celtic knot drawings show the children how a graceful order is found in the apparent complexities of life. Celtic knot form drawings present interweaving elements of the world that may seem confusing, just as fractions may seem overwhelmingly complex—until the rules are learned. The children gain confidence in learning that if they follow the path or the rule, they come through the maze safely and in an elegant manner.

Mountain Laure Waldorf School - Grade 4PAINTING
Animal drawing and watercolor paintings of themes pertinent to the lessons also continue throughout the year. Painting may impart contrasting moods, such as warm and cold, light and heavy, or sad and cheerful. Through these soul-moods the children explore their inner feelings and find the forms that develop through these contrasts.

Musical notation for the recorder is introduced. Some teachers may begin exploring other voices besides soprano, in preparation for fifth grade ensemble music. The fourth grade continues to study their stringed instruments and participate in the fourth/fifth grade orchestra, which performs before the community twice a year. This necessitates the continued practice of reading music and develops the ability to sight-read.

Games for grade four are based on the emerging individuality of the child. It is important that children learn how to accept both winning and losing. Games are presented through pictures and rhymes to stimulate their imagination. It is important to choose games that help children build a new emotional structure and it gives an outer expression to the changes they are experiencing.