The Pathfinder School: Traverse City Community School

Grade 4

A journey in self-discovery filled with opportunities for success!

Social Awareness and Intellectual Development

Thematic Curriculum - Michigan History

Everyday Mathematics

Co-Curricular Classes

Fourth Grade Art

Fourth Grade Science

Social Awareness and Intellectual Development

Fourth Grade is characterized by deepening social awareness and intense intellectual development. This is a transitional year as children grow in their abstract reasoning skills, their interpersonal commmunication skills and their ability to be self-directed. Responsibility, respect for others and the environment, interconnectedness and friendship are practiced daily and are highly valued. Here the need for belonging, knowledge and fun is lovingly met. A love of learning is nurtured. Fourth grade is an amazing year of growth and development for children. This pre-adolescent adventure is a collage of cognitive, social, emotional and physical change. It is an exciting year in the life of a child!

Thematic Curriculum - Michigan History

The Fourth Grade academic curriculum is taught thematically with a central focus on Michigan history. By means of an orchestrated immersion, students learn deeply across all disciplines. Reading, writing, spelling, speaking and listening, music, creative movement, drama and the visual arts are taught in harmony as they relate to each thematic study. This holistic approach invites students to learn for understanding by employing their multiple intelligences. The adventure begins in September with a family history unit. Students connect with their past on a personal level by interviewing a senior relative, writing an ancestor narrative and creating a family history scrapbook. Next, students explore Michigan's rich Native American heritage. They work cooperatively to create and perform pantomimes outdoors depicting Indian lifeways and customs. Other annual topics of study include: early Europeans in Michigan, the fur trade, the mining and lumbering eras, growth in transportation and state government. Thematic chapter books shared throughout the year include titles, such as The Hundred Penny Box, Night of the Full Moon, Once On This Island, North to Iron Country and Number the Stars. On alternating years, fourth graders participate in a multicultural global studies program. Our global studies program culminates with a unique evening of presentations, song, dance and display of student work! An annual overnight learning adventure in May takes us to Lansing where we visit the Capitol Building, Michigan Historical Museum and Nokomis Learning Center of Native American Studies! It's an unforgettable experience!

Everyday Mathematics

The Fourth Grade Mathematics program is Everyday Mathematics, the elementary school curriculum developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project. The curriculum includes the following content strands:

  • Numeration
  • Operations and computation
  • Geometry
  • Data and chance
  • Measurement
  • Patterns
  • Algebra

This program utilizes a problem-solving approach for children. It offers practice with basic skills and provides opportunities for children to enhance communication and reasoning skills. Hands-on activities, projects and games are all a part of the learning experience in fourth grade mathematics. Frequently, students construct their own learning tools.

Co-Curricular Classes

Fourth Graders participate in co-curricular classes. They have French, art, music, science, computers, library, and P.E.

Fourth Grade Art

The arts are integrated into the curriculum by the classroom teacher. In addition, students meet twice a week with the art teacher. They are given the opportunity to become more proficient with the variety of media available. They work with clay, markers, tempera paint and watercolors, collage, printmaking (using linoleum blocks and water based inks), colored pencils, and constructions. Students begin looking at the Art History timeline, covering artwork from Prehistoric through Modern times. They create works of art using natural found materials, clay, and construction materials. They also draw self-portraits and learn perspective techniques.

Fourth Grade Science

Throughout the elementary science program, our students will build an understanding of:

  • How all things are connected
  • How change affects all things
  • How science connects to all we do
  • What it means to “think like a scientist”

Each year topics are revisited in increasing depth, building upon understanding from prior years.

By the end of the Fourth Grade school year, our young scientists will understand that:

  • The atmosphere and weather have effect on climate and that climate effects the availablity of food and, therefore, the development of civliizations throughout history
  • There are three basic processes of rock formation and rocks can cycle from one form to another
  • Salt water oceans cover ¾ of the planet and provide many resources
  • Fresh water is only 1% of all the water on Earth and only a tiny portion of that is available for use by living things, and needs to be protected
  • The sun, moon and far away galaxies effect our world
  • Atoms are the building blocks in an elegant system of elements and molecules explained through the periodic table
  • Water has unique physical and chemical properties and because of surface tension and density things can float in it
  • The human body gets important energy through the digestive process and it's important to care for the digestive system to stay healthy
  • The heart and lungs are important parts of systems for the exchange of nutrients and waste within the body and it's important to care for these systems
  • Animals, classified by shared traits, have developed certain adaptations to survive in their habitats
  • Plants and lichens have distinct differences
  • Insects are the most diverse animal group and have adapted to nearly every climate on Earth

In our quest for scientific understanding, students participate in both independent and collaborative work. They generate reports, projects, journals, presentations, and experiments. Learning happens both through demonstration and modeling of science skills and instruments, as well as through hands-on experiential learning, reading, open-ended questions and discussions, embracing mistakes as learning opportunities, and appropriate use of technology. Children are encouraged to take intellectual risks and responsibilities. Assessment is through student-generated rubrics, reports, class participation, quizzes and tests.

Click to download the fourth grade reading list.