Grade Four Course Descriptions 

Language Arts

The fourth grade language arts curriculum consists of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Reading is taught through children's literature, including Junior Great Books short stories and poetry, novels that integrate with the social studies content, and novels that lend themselves to teaching the elements of literature. Vocabulary and word-study skills are strengthened as we engage with each piece of literature . Spelling lessons focus on morphology, including prefixes, and suffixes. The writing component or our program stresses the use of a systematic, step-by-step writing process. Students have many opportunities to develop speaking and listening skills in a variety of ways: one-on-one, small-group, and whole-class settings. Sample areas of study:

  • Junior Great Books

  • Class Novels

  • Literature Circles

  • Grammar

  • Structured paragraph writing

  • Creative story writing

  • Five-paragraph essay

  • Journal writing

  • Thoroughly crafted answers to discussion questions

  • Shared Inquiry Discussions


The Math in Focus (the U.S. version of Singapore Math) fourth-grade program provides challenging practice problems to help broaden children’s thinking skills and extend their understanding of concepts. The problem-solving questions are designed to challenge students to use relevant strategies for non-routine problems.  Sample units of study:

  • Building problem-solving skills and strategies

  • Multiplying and dividing with 1-digit and 2-digit numbers

  • Using tables, graphs, data, and probability

  • Adding and subtracting with fractions and decimals

  • Understanding relationships between fractions and decimals

  • Studying angles, line segments, area, and perimeter

Social Studies

Fourth-grade students use the Pearson Learning/Core Knowledge history and geography textbooks to study world and American history. The year-long study of geography includes reading and interpreting various types of maps, longitude and latitude, and world landforms. Several pieces of literature used in language arts coordinate with the units in social studies, and students write research reports on selected topics. Each unit culminates in an independent or collaborative project to demonstrate skill, ability, and understanding of the learning objectives. Sample units of study:

  • Europe and Middle Ages

  • Africa – geography, comparison of African countries, and current events

  • Electoral process and American presidents


Students are engaged in the hands-on program of Science and Technology for Children (STC) developed by the National Science Resources Center (NSRC). Children explore objects, organisms, and science phenomena. They discuss observations and investigate their ideas.   A science inquiry project emphasizing the scientific process is also completed during the fourth grade. As with the social studies units, each science unit culminates with a collaborative project that encourages students to apply their understanding of the concepts, as well as stretch their communication and critical thinking skills. Sample units of study:

  • Measuring time - a look at the history of time

  • Microbiology -  focus on viruses and bacteria

  • Electricity - circuits, magnetism, and renewable energy


Fourth grade students have 100 minutes of contact hours per week, with four 25-minute sessions in the rotating week. The program focuses on consolidating and improving the students’ speaking, listening, basic reading, and basic writing skills. Students continue the use of the Symtalk method, allowing them to consolidate their knowledge of what Spanish should look and sound like at a basic level. The Exploring Spanish books and audio materials provide a basic foundation for the communication goals expected at this level. Self-study aids, like the Duolingo App and the Quizlet App created by the teacher, allow students to become more responsible and independent, and they also provide further motivation to improve their language skills. Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (VAK) activities are aimed towards engaging students’ different learning styles, as they incorporate songs, art projects, role playing, realia, games, and oral presentations. Special interest is placed on the exploration of the diverse cultures of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Students create presentations and learn to express themselves more fluidly and with more attention on authentic pronunciation.  The exit Spanish level competency in our fourth grade corresponds with the Novice High level established by the ACTFL (American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages). Sample units of study:

  • The numbers 0- …

  • Acting and giving commands

  • Greeting and expressions of courtesy

  • Regular verbs

  • Phonemic awareness

  • Descriptions using the present progressive in Spanish

  • Phrases to navigate the Spanish class

  • Describing objects with common adjectives

  • Gender and number agreement with nouns and adjectives

  • Common cognates

  • Geography of South America, Central America and the Caribbean

  • “Me, Myself, and I” physical descriptions and personality traits

  • My family

  • Families of Latin America


Fourth grade art continues to explore the elements of art through two and three-dimensional projects. Drawing, painting, oil and chalk pastels, charcoal drawing, printmaking, hand sewing, and clay work round out the year. Children progress at their own pace, and process is more important than product. By this time considerable skill is developing in the areas of drawing/painting and clay work. Sensitivity towards well crafted artwork is starting to be emphasized. Highlights include gyotaku fish prints, hand-sewn ‘germ monsters’, medieval inspired paintings, and imaginative symmetrical drawings. Specific projects may vary each year in response to new ideas and academic classroom topics. Sample areas of focus:

  • Study the basic elements of line, color, texture, form and space

  • Expand on students’ vocabulary of art and design

  • Observe and interpret works of art

  • Explore art history through imagery and books


The fourth grade music experience creates an active space for the whole child’s creative potential. Meeting twice every 6 days for 45-minute sessions, the program focuses on introducing rhythm, melody, and notation while engaging the whole body in creative movement. Performance opportunities broaden the singer’s vocal literature and offer skills in public presentations. Sample units of study:

  • Guitars

  • Reading two-part vocal core

  • The orchestra

Physical Education

The Physical Education program at Carolina Day School emphasizes active living

through participation in a variety of games and activities. Games are designed for all

students to be successful in each class. Fourth graders come to PE three times a week

for 30-minute classes. The cornerstone of all activities is teamwork and cooperation.

Components of our program include:

  • Throwing and catching games that focus on gross motor skills

  • Sport specific units: basketball, soccer, floor hockey, Frisbee, badminton, volleyball, baseball, yoga, gymnastics and jump rope

  • Dance unit, which culminates with our annual lower school family dance

  • Field games unit, which culminates with Field Day at the end of the year

  • Fitness testing through Fall Fitness Day


The lower school library supports the Carolina Day School curriculum, encourages reading, and promotes research. More than 20,000 titles are available to students and parents via the web-based catalogue, along with a variety of electronic databases, print periodicals, DVDs, and audio resources. The library program is designed to foster a love of reading and to teach skills in locating and evaluating information. A primary focus is on providing appropriate and enticing materials for diverse reading interests and wide ranging reading abilities, so all students can find materials to support their learning and joy of reading. Lower school students are welcome to independently visit the library throughout the school day with their teacher’s permission.  Fourth graders are invited to participate in voluntary Literary Lunch Societies during their lunch times. These single gender societies vote to select the titles they read and discuss. Weekly library visits include:

  • Book talks to promote reading across genres and the North Carolina Children’s Book Award nominees

  • Analysis and evaluation of new novels and nonfiction to identify those deserving Newbery recognition

  • Voluntary participation in the Newbery Challenge reading and writing program

  • One-on-one reader advising

  • Exploring the library’s arrangement of resources

  • Use of the library’s subscription databases

  • Use of the web-based catalog to locate books and other appropriate resources

  • Direct instruction in reading nonfiction

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