"For the Fourth Grade child, the inner and outer worlds are no longer one. The child experiences these worlds as torn apart. Self-consciousness becomes stronger, and the soul life becomes more inward and independent. The task of the teacher and parent is to lead the child into a world that is filled with beauty and meaning." -Rudolf Steiner
The Norse Legends, the Kalevala, and the Beowulf story are used to introduce the Fourth Graders to heroes, tricksters, gods and goddesses with human foibles, war, and adversarial relationships of all kinds. California history is taught and includes field trips to local sights including Fort Ross, the Malakoff Diggings, and the Sonoma Mission. The children are asked to map their own family home, map their way to school, and map their classroom, the school grounds, the county, and then the state, itself.
During the summer, each child is asked to read at least four books of 100 pages or more, make a summer reading list with title and author of each book read, and turn it in on the first day of school. Parents are asked if they would spend the last two weeks of the summer reviewing times tables with their child.
SCIENCE: the Animal Kingdom - In nature study, the animal world is taken up first because it is the closest to the human being. From an anatomical point of view, the human being is generalized and unspecialized, whereas each animal species has specific, one-sided anatomically-based skills. The children learn about animals grouped by their chief characteristics, such as species with powerful metabolic systems (herbivores), animals that hunt using their claws, strength and teeth (carnivores), animals with highly developed visual abilities (birds of prey), and so on. Thus, a comparative study of the animal world leads to a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.
GEOGRAPHY: This study begins with the child and his or her relationship to the physical body and the space around it. From the classroom to the schoolyard, neighborhood, Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, and California, the child's horizon is expanded. The history of the locale and state are told along with descriptions of the areas. The child experiences the compass directions through movement and games, and the drawing of different kinds of maps is begun.
LANGUAGE ARTS: As the child becomes more sensitive to the beauty of language, the writing of compositions out of the animal study and mythology help to cultivate good writing style. Poems are written, as a class and individually, to emphasize rhyme and rhythm. Dictations are also given. Daily work on speech formation is done through speech exercises, verses and poems. The alliterative quality of language is stressed. Ten spelling words a week are given from a basic word list or out of the main lesson work. Letter writing is continued.
Grammar study involves diagramming sentences and the study of all parts of speech - subject, predicate, object, phrases, and the past, present and future tense of verbs.
At least one, and maybe two, plays are performed, such as "Beowulf" and "The Norse Gods and Giants."
ARITHMETIC: Work on the four operations is continued and expanded. Long division by single- and double-digit numbers and multiplication by two and three digits is introduced, and the times tables are intensely worked with and expected to be nearly be mastered. Averages, estimating, and ratios are introduced and measurement is continued. The main work with numbers is done with fractions in all its aspects.
READING: The Dream of King Alfdan, Homer Price, and Back in the Before Time: Tales of California Indians are read out loud in class. The children also read silently at least 15 minutes a day. One formal written book report is given. The above book list may vary.
FORM DRAWING: The main work of the year comes out of drawing Celtic designs, which adds the more difficult aspect of weaving the lines wherever they cross.
MODELING: This year, the class is introduced to working with clay in the creation of different animal forms.
HANDWORK: The Fourth Grade begins the year by weaving a small pouch from the plant-dyed wool they created in third grade. Their main project is a cross-stitch, with mirroring picture designs. Cross-stitch requires projective thinking, as the children imagine the needle underneath their work and move it to the proper placement. They are met with the challenge of precision, as well as choosing colors that please them.
MAIN LESSON BLOCKS IN THE 4TH GRADE: Norse mythology and sagas; local geography, map-making; California history; study of the animal kingdom; fractions and decimal fractions.
Spanish: Choral Recitation of Poems, Songs, California's Hispanic Heritage, Beginning Grammar
Music: Singing, Music Theory, Diatonic Flute
Instrumental Music: Strings
Farming: Animal Care- Duck, Rabbits, Chickens and Cows
Circus: Unicycling, Gymnastics
Painting: Techniques, Animals, Landscapes
Clay: Themes from Main Lessons
Reading with 8th grade buddies