Fourth Grade Basics

Here are 4th grade standards based on a California school district.

Year-End Standards: 


Writing, Listening, Speaking



Social Studies

Health & PE

Helping at Home

Year-End Standards for grade 4 

Students read and understand grade-level appropriate material. They draw upon a variety of comprehension strategies as needed, including asking and answering essential questions, making predictions, and comparing information from several sources. Students should be reading for pleasure on their own, so that by the time they are in 4th grade, they are reading an average of at least five pages every day.

Students read and respond to a wide variety of significant works of children’s literature. They distinguish between the structural features of text and the literary terms or elements (i.e., theme, plot, setting, and characters).

Word Recognition

  • read narrative and expository text aloud with grade appropriate fluency and accuracy and with appropriate pacing, intonation, and expression

Vocabulary and Concept Development

  • apply knowledge of word origins, derivations, synonyms, antonyms and idioms to determine the meaning of words and phrases
  • use knowledge of root words to determine the meaning of unknown words in a passage
  • know common Greek and Latin derived roots and affixes and use this knowledge to analyze the meaning of complex words
  • use a thesaurus to determine related words and concepts
  • distinguish and interpret multiple meaning words

Reading for Information

  • identify structural patterns found in informational text (e.g. compare and contrast, cause and effect, chronological order) to strengthen comprehension

Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text

  • use appropriate strategies when reading for different purposes (e.g., full comprehension, locating information, and personal enjoyment)
  • make and confirm predictions about text by using prior knowledge and ideas presented in the text, including illustrations, titles, topic sentences, key words, and foreshadowing clues
  • evaluate new information and hypotheses by testing them against known information and ideas
  • compare and contrast information on the same topic after reading several passages or articles
  • follow multiple-step instructions from a basic technical manual (e.g., how to use computer commands or video games)

Analyzing and Understanding What You Read

  • describe the structural differences of various imaginative forms of literature, including fantasies, fables, myths, legends, and fairy tales
  • identify the main events of the plot, their causes, and how each influences future action(s)
  • use knowledge of situation, setting and of a character’s traits and motivations to determine the causes for that character’s actions
  • compare and contrast tales from different cultures by tracing the exploits of one character type and develop theories to account for similar tales in diverse cultures
  • identify and define figurative language in literary works, including simile, metaphor, hyperbole, and personification
  • identify recurring theme across works
  • analyze the impact of the authors’ decisions regarding word choice and content
  • evaluate literary merit
  • consider the function of points of view or persona
  • examine the reasons for a character’s actions, taking into account the situation and basic motivation of the character
  • identify stereotypical characters as opposed to fully developed characters
  • critique the degree to which a plot is contrived or realistic
  • make inferences and draw conclusions about contexts, events, characters, and settings
  • distinguish between cause and effect, fact and opinion in text

Writing, Listening and Speaking
Year-End Standards for grade 4

Students write and speak with a command of standard English conventions that are appropriate to each grade level.

Students write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea. Their writing considers audience and purpose. They successfully use the stages of the writing process (i.e., pre-writing, drafting, revising and editing successive versions). Students write compositions that describe and explain familiar objects, events and experiences. Students listen and respond critically to oral communication. They speak in a manner that guides and informs the listener’s understanding of key ideas using appropriate phrasing, pitch and modulation. Students make informed judgments about television, fine arts, radio, film productions, guest speakers or performances. They deliver brief recitations and oral presentations about familiar experiences or interests that are organized around a coherent thesis statement. Students successfully participate in group discussions.

Organization and Focus

  • select focus, organization, and point of view based upon purpose, audience, length and format requirements
  • create a multiple paragraph composition that: (1) provides an introductory paragraph; (2) establishes and supports a central idea with a topic sentence at or near the beginning of the first paragraph; (3) includes supporting paragraphs with simple facts, details, and explanations; (4) concludes with a paragraph that summarizes the points; (5) is indented properly
  • use traditional structures for conveying information (e.g. chronological order, cause and effect, similarity and difference, and posing and answering a question)


  • write fluidly and legibly in cursive or joined italic, easily transcribing manuscript into cursive and vice-versa

Sentence Structure

  • use simple and compound sentences in writing and speaking
  • combine short, related sentences with appositives, participle phrases, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases


  • identify and use regular and irregular verbs, adverbs, prepositions and coordinating conjunctions in writing and speaking


  • use commas in direct quotations, apostrophes in possessives and contractions, and parentheses
  • use underlining, quotations, or italics to identify titles


  • capitalize names of magazines, newspapers, works of art, musical compositions, names of organizations, and the first word in quotations


  • spell correctly roots, inflections, suffixes and prefixes, and syllable constructions

Revising and Evaluating Strategies

  • revise drafts to improve the coherence and the logical progression of ideas, using an established rubric

Research and Technology

  • quote or paraphrase information sources, citing them appropriately
  • locate information in reference texts by using organizational features (e.g. prefaces, appendices)
  • use various reference materials as an aid to writing (e.g., dictionary, thesaurus, card catalog, encyclopedia, on-line information)
  • understand the structure and organization of (and use) almanacs, newspapers, and periodicals
  • demonstrate basic keyboarding skills and familiarity with the vocabulary of technology (e.g. cursor, software, memory, disk drive, hard drive)


  • ask thoughtful questions and respond to relevant questions with appropriate elaboration in oral settings
  • summarize major ideas and supporting evidence presented in spoken messages and formal presentations
  • identify how language (e.g., sayings, expressions, usages) reflects regions and cultures
  • give precise directions and instructions

Analysis of Media and Presentations

  • evaluate the role of the media in focusing attention on events and in forming opinions on issues
  • understand the difference between media for information and media for entertainment and judge the extent to which media provides a source of entertainment as well as a source of information
  • demonstrate an awareness of the uses of media in the daily lives of most people
  • define the role of advertising as part of media presentation

Writing Applications

  • write narratives that: (1) relate ideas, observations, and/or memories; (2) provide a context to enable the reader to imagine the world of the event or experience; (3) use concrete sensory details; (4) provide insight into why this incident is memorable
  • write responses to literature that: (1) demonstrate an understanding of the literary work; (2) support judgments through references both to the text and to prior knowledge
  • write information reports that: (1) frame a key question about an issue or situation; (2) include facts and details for focus; (3) draw from more than one source of information (e.g. speakers, books, newspapers, media sources)
  • write summaries that contain the main ideas of the reading selection and the most significant details

Speaking Applications

  • present effective introductions and conclusions that guide and inform the listener’s understanding of key ideas and evidence
  • use traditional structures for conveying information (e.g., cause and effect, similarity and difference, and posing and answering a question)
  • emphasize points in ways that assist the listener/viewer in following key ideas and concepts
  • use details, examples, anecdotes, or experiences to explain or clarify information
  • use volume, pitch, phrasing, pace, modulation, and gestures appropriately to enhance meaning
  • make narrative presentations on an incident that: (1) relate ideas, observations, and/or memories; (2) provide context that enables the listener to imagine the circumstances in which the event or experience occurred; (3) provide insight into why the selected incident is memorable
  • make informational presentations that: (1) frame a key question; (2) contain facts and details that help listeners focus; (3) incorporate more than one source of information (e.g., speakers, books, newspapers, television or radio reports)
  • deliver oral summaries of articles and books that contain the main ideas of the events/article and the most significant details

Group Discussions

  • display active listening behaviors
  • actively solicit another person’s comment or opinion
  • offer own opinion forcefully without domination
  • respond appropriately to comments and questions
  • give reasons in support of opinions expressed
  • clarify, illustrate or expand upon a response
  • employ group decision-making techniques (brainstorming ideas, problem solving sequence)

Year-End Grade Standards for grade 4

By the end of fourth grade, students understand large numbers and addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers. They describe and compare simple fractions and decimals. They understand the properties of and the relationships between plane geometric figures. They collect, represent and analyze data to answer questions.

Number Sense

  • students read and write numbers in the millions and understand the basic concept of negative numbers; they order and compare whole numbers and numbers up to two decimal places; they understand when rounding off is useful
  • students understand the relationship between fractions and division; they write tenths and hundredths in decimal and fractions form
  • students add and subtract whole numbers and decimals and judge the reasonableness of their answer
  • students multiply a multi-digit number by a two-digit number
  • students divide a multi-digit number by a one digit number
  • students know how to factor small whole numbers (12=4×3; 2×6; 2x2x3)

Algebra and Functions

  • students use and interpret variables, mathematical symbols and properties to write and simplify problems and equations.
  • students use simple formulas (area=width x length) and can manipulate equations

Measurement and Geometry

  • students understand perimeter and area and can use formulas to solve problems involving perimeter and area of rectangles and squares
  • students use two-dimensional coordinate grid to represent points and graph lines and simple figures; they can graph the patterns expressed in simple equations (y=3x)
  • students demonstrate an understanding of plane and solid geometric objects and use this knowledge to show relationships and solve problems
  • students identify lines that are parallel and perpendicular, the radius and diameter of a circle, congruent figures, quadrilaterals, bilateral and rotational symmetry; they know the definitions of various angles and triangles

Statistics, Data Analysis and Probability

  • students formulate survey questions, collect and represent data and communicate their findings; they can interpret one and two variable data graphs to answer questions
  • student make predictions for simple probability situations; they can represent all possible outcomes for a simple probability situation using tables, grids, diagrams; express outcomes of experimental probability situations verbally and numerically (3 out of 4; 3/4)

Mathematical Reasoning

  • students make decisions about how to approach problems; they analyze the problem, know relevant from irrelevant information, sequence and prioritize the information and observe patterns; they break problems up into their simpler parts
  • students use estimation to verify the reasonableness of calculated results
  • students solve problems and justify their reasoning; they explain their reasoning using words, numbers, symbols, charts, graphs, tables, diagrams, or models
  • students make precise calculations and check the validity of the results from the context of the problem
  • students move beyond a particular problem and generalize to other situations

Year-End Standards for grade 4

Investigation and Experimentation

These ideas build upon each other from year to year, as students become more sophisticated. Listed below are grades 3-5:

Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5
  • I know the difference between evidence and opinion.
  • I can make a conclusion based on data that I’ve collected.
  • I understand that scientists make predictions and draw conclusions based on data.
  • I know that, to draw conclusions, results of experiments must be repeatable.
  • I understand that sometimes scientists’ explanations come from inferences.
  • I can follow written experimental instructions.
  • I can construct graphs from data.
  • I can identify variables.
  • I can develop testable questions.
  • I can write a lab report of an investigation that includes instructions others could follow.
  • I understand the concept of a scale model.

Physical Sciences

Electricity and magnetism are related effects that have many useful applications in everyday life. As a basis for understanding this concept, students know:

Electricity and Magnetism Are Related and Useful

  • how to design and build simple series and parallel circuits using components such as wires, batteries, and bulbs.
  • how to build a simple compass and use it to detect magnetic effects, including Earth’s magnetic field.
  • electric currents produce magnetic fields and how to build a simple electromagnet.
  • the role of electromagnets in the construction of electric motors, electric generators, and simple devices such as doorbells and earphones.
  • electrically charged objects attract or repel each other.
  • magnets have two poles, labeled north and south, and like poles repel each other while unlike poles attract each other.
  • electrical energy can be converted to heat, light and motion.

Life Sciences

All organisms need energy and matter to live and grow. Living organisms depend on one another and on their environment for survival. As a basis for understanding these concepts, students know:

Food Chains and Ecosystems

  • plants are the primary source of matter and energy entering most food chains.
  • producers and consumers (herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and decomposers) are related in food chains and food webs, and may compete with each other for resources in an ecosystem.
  • decomposers, including many fungi, insects, and microorganisms, recycle matter from dead plants and animals.
  • ecosystems can be characterized in terms of their living and non-living components.
  • for any particular environment, some kinds of plants and animals survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.
  • many plants depend on animals for pollination and seed dispersal, while animals depend on plants for food and shelter.
  • most microorganisms do not cause disease and many are beneficial.

Earth and Space Sciences

The properties of rocks and minerals reflect the processes that formed them. Waves, wind, water, and ice shape and reshape the Earth’s land surface As a basis for understanding these concepts, students know:

Types of Rocks and How They Are Made

  • how to differentiate among igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks by their properties and methods of formation (the rock cycle).
  • how to identify common rock-forming minerals (including quartz, calcite, feldspar, mica, and hornblende) and ore minerals using a table of diagnostic properties.

Forces of Nature Shape and Reshape the Land

  • some changes in the Earth are due to slow processes, such as erosion, and some changes are due to rapid processes, such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.
  • natural processes, including freezing/thawing and growth of roots, cause rocks to break down into smaller pieces.
  • moving water erodes landforms, reshaping the land by taking it away from some places and depositing it as pebbles, sand, silt, and mud in other places (weathering, transport, and deposition).

Social Studies
Year-End Standards for grade 4


Students learn the story of their home state, unique in American history in terms of its vast and varied geography, its many waves of immigration beginning with pre-Columbian societies, its continuous diversity, economic energy, and rapid growth. In addition to the specific treatment of milestones in California history, students examine the state in the context of the rest of the nation, with an emphasis on the U.S. Constitution and the relationship between state and federal government.

How We Fit Together: The Geography of California

Students know the physical features of California (mountains, valleys, bays) and why people choose to live and work in different areas. Details include:

  • explaining and using the coordinate grid system of latitude and longitude to determine the locations of places in California and on Earth
  • distinguishing between the prime meridian; the tropics; and the northern, southern, eastern and western hemispheres using coordinates to plot locations
  • identifying the state capital and describing the basic regions of California, including how their characteristics and physical environment affect human activity (e.g., water, landforms, vegetation, climate)
  • identifying the location of and explaining the reasons for the growth of towns in relation to the Pacific Ocean, rivers, valleys, and mountain passes
  • using maps, charts and pictures to describe how communities in California vary in land use, vegetation, wildlife, climate, population density, architecture, services, and transportation

The Early Exploration of California and Mexico

Students describe the social, political, cultural and economic life and interactions among people of California from the pre-Columbian societies to the Spanish mission and Mexican rancho periods. Details include:

  • the early land and sea routes to, and European settlements in, California with a focus on the exploration of the North Pacific, noting the physical barriers of mountains, deserts, ocean currents, and wind patterns (e.g., Cermeño, Drake, Cabrillo, Portola, DeAnza, Bering, Vizcainó, Coretz)

Spanish/Mexican California

Students describe the social, political, cultural and economic life and interactions among people of California from the pre-Columbian societies to the Spanish mission and Mexican rancho periods. Details include:

  • the Spanish exploration and colonization of California, including the interactions between soldiers, missionaries and Indians (e.g., biographies of Juan Crespi, Junipero Serra, Gaspar de Portola)
  • the mapping, geographic basis of, and economic factors in the placement and function of the Spanish missions; how the mission system expanded the influence of Spain and Catholicism throughout New Spain and Latin America
  • the daily lives of the people, native and non-native, who occupied the presidios, missions, ranchos, and pueblos
  • the role of the Franciscans in the change of California from a hunter-gatherer economy to an agricultural economy
  • the effects of the Mexican War for Independence on Alta California, including the territorial boundaries of North America
  • the period Mexican rule and its attributes, including land grants, secularization of the missions and the rise of the rancho economy, and the influence of Mexican architecture, language, culture and art on California
  • the locations of Mexican settlements

The Gold Rush and Statehood

Students explain the economic, social, and political life of California from the establishment of the Bear Flag Republic through the Mexican-American War, the Gold Rush and California statehood . Details include:

  • comparisons of how and why people traveled to California and the routes they traveled (e.g., biographies and legends of James Beckwourth, Jedediah Smith, John C. Fremont), and the establishment of settlements such as Sutter’s Fort and Fort Ross
  • the effect of the Gold Rush on settlements, daily life, politics, and the physical environment (e.g., biographies of John Sutter, Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, Phoebe Apperson Hearst)
  • how the Gold Rush transformed the economy of California, including the type of products produced and consumed, changes in towns (e.g., Sacramento, San Francisco) and economic conflicts between diverse groups of people
  • the lives of women who helped build early California (e.g., biographies of Bernarda Ruiz, Biddy Mason)
  • how California became a state and how its new government differed from those during the Spanish and Mexican periods

California Becomes Linked to the Greater United States

Students explain how California became an agricultural and industrial power by tracing the transformation of the California economy and its political and cultural development since the 1850’s. Details include:

  • the story and lasting influence of the Pony Express, Overland Mail Service, Western Union, and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, including the contributions of the Chinese workers to its construction
  • the immigration and migration to California between 1850 and 1900; its diverse composition, the countries of origin and their relative locations, and the conflicts and accords among diverse groups (e.g., the 1882 Exclusion Act)

The Modern Development of California

Students explain how California became an agricultural and industrial during the Twentieth Century. Details include:

  • how rapid American immigration and internal migration led to the growth of towns and cities (e.g., Los Angeles) and the development of new industries
  • the development and location of new industries since the turn of the century, such as aerospace, electronics, large scale commercial agriculture and irrigation projects, the oil and automobile industries, communications and defense, and important trade links with the Pacific Basin
  • California’s water system and how it evolved over time into a network of dams, aqueducts and reservoirs
  • California’s public education system, including elementary and secondardy schools, universities and community colleges
  • the impact of 20th century Californians on the nation’s artistic and cultural development, including the rise of the entertainment industry (e.g., biographies of Louis B. Meyer, Walt Disney, John Steinbeck, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, John Wayne)

The Government of Our State

Students understand the structure, functions, and powers of the local and state governments. They understand:

  • the purpose of the state constitution, its key principles, and its relationship to the U.S. Constitution
  • the structure and function of state governments (three separate branches), including the roles and responsibilities of elected officials
  • the components of California’s governance structure (i.e., cities and towns, Indian rancherias and reservations, counties, school districts)

Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills — Grades K-5

Chronological and Spatial Thinking Research, Evidence and Point of View Historical Interpretation

  1. place key events and people studied in both chronological sequence and spatial context; interpret timelines
  2. apply terms related to time correctly, including past, present, future, decade, century, and generation
  3. explain how the present is connected to the past, identifying similarities and differences, and how some things change over time and some things stay the same
  4. use map and globe skills to determine the absolute locations of places and interpret information available through the map’s legend, scale, and symbolic representations
  5. judge the significance of the location of a place (e.g., close to a harbor, trade routes) and analyze how those advantages or disadvantages can change over time

  1. differentiate between primary and secondary sources
  2. pose relevant questions about events encountered in historical documents, eyewitness accounts, oral histories, letters, diaries, artifacts, photos, maps, art and architecture
  3. distinguish fact from fiction by comparing documentary sources on historical figures and events with fictionalized characters and events

  1. summarize the key events of the era they are studying and explain their historical contexts
  2. identify the human and physical characteristics of the places they are studying and explain how these features form the unique character of these places
  3. identify and interpret the multiple causes and effects of historical events
  4. conduct cost/benefit analyses of historical and current events

Health and Physical Education
Year-End Standards for grade 4


The following is a summary of standards for Health and Physical Education which were developed in 1996.

Students show movement and balance skills that enable them to participate in physical activities. They can control objects using eye-hand and eye-foot coordination. They know the rules and skills for playing some traditional games and have good jump rope skills. They demonstrate positive interactions when playing games. Students know some ways in which their body fights disease, and know some of the dangers of tobacco use. They know some options for what to do if confronted with dangerous situations and/or substances, or if threatened or abused. They apply strategies and communication skills to cope with physical and emotional changes and see how the media might influence their decision

Helping at Home

You are your child’s first and most important teacher. A working partnership between home and school will result in the best possible education for your child. There are many ways you as a family already support your child’s education. Here are just a few sample home activities.


Encourage your child to read for pleasure. Magazines, comics, game manuals and tip books, and newspaper articles make good reading in addition to novels. Make sure your child sees adults and older siblings in the house reading and writing. Show him or her how reading is useful.

When your child reads aloud to you, give him or her time to hear and correct his or her own reading mistakes before jumping in with the correct word, or pointing out an error. The goal is to make self-correcting readers.

Take opportunities to have your child help write. Shopping lists, letters, travel journals, a diary, family photo album notes are all important writing opportunities.

Talk about the television programs and movies your child watches. Television programs often make good bridges to reading about an interesting topic.


Have your child practice measuring when cooking. Have them double or halve an appropriate recipe.

Have your child count, add and subtract money and identify the denominations. A small allowance will motivate your child to keep track of money and save for special items. Have your child figure out the arrival time at a special place, given when you start out and how long the drive will take.

Figure out household math problems with your child. Let him or her in on your thinking. How did you figure out how much cloth it would take to make curtains, or how much lumber it took to build the planter box?


Take trips to science and natural history museums, tide pools, nature trails, etc.

Watch and discuss the animals around your home. Birds, pets, insects, and small animals are all around us. Have your child record his or her observations, including recording predictions about animal behavior.

Plant a kitchen garden, either indoors or out. A sunny window can be a great spot for a few simple plants used in cooking.

Read books and watch television programs which explore interesting scientific knowledge. Share your knowledge. Discuss your child’s perceptions, guesses, and ideas about scientific processes.


Make a timeline of important family events.

Visit places of historical interest in the Santa Cruz area. Discuss how life was different and the same in the past. What was your childhood like? What about a grandparent’s childhood?

Look at a map or globe to find where grandma lives or where you will be driving.

Tell your child the family stories of how people met, what happened when (s)he was born, when the family came to America.


Be sure your child has an opportunity to play outside and be physically active.

Talk with your child about the importance of daily health routines, such as brushing teeth, washing hands, and getting enough sleep. Make sure your child knows basic emergency procedures (911, fire exits from home, etc.)

Take your child to a sporting event, such as a baseball game, or even a sibling’s soccer game. Discuss the skills, rules and cooperation involved.


One thought on “Fourth Grade Basics

  1. Pingback: US National Reading Vocabulary Words Grades K-6 « The Education Cafe

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