Our fourth grade homeschool curriculum covered all the usual subjects — math, reading, history, and science, but this year we also included a vocabulary study, Spanish, and coding. Again we went light on the writing, opting for free writing rather than any assigned work.
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Fourth Grade homeschool Math
This year my son wanted to give Teaching Textbooks a try again, so we used Level 4 for him. I have a love/hate relationship with Teaching Textbooks because I feel like they are a bit behind in what they teach in each grade level, but I do love that I don’t have to do the teaching and that all the grades are kept automatically.
If keeping up with the rest of the kids in a traditional school is important to you, I would not recommend Teaching Textbooks. But, if you aren’t concerned about that and are satisfied knowing that your kids will learn what they need just at a different pace, then it’s a solid choice.
Fourth Grade homeschool History
This year we used Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages as our history spine. It covers major historical events in the years 400 to 1600 CE. We also used the accompanying Activity Guide for map work, suggested readings, and ideas for other fun activities.
I do rely heavily on the libraries to supply our historical readers, and unfortunately we ran into an issue this year when the libraries closed in March due to COVID-19. The last few weeks of our history studies ended up going fairly quickly since we didn’t have any readers This is one of the reasons I decided to go back to a full boxed curriculum for 20-21. As of late July 2020, our libraries are either closed or have restricted access, and I can’t risk having them close completely again!
Fourth Grade homeschool Reading
All of our readers this year were based on the historical era or geographical region we were studying. Here are a few of our favorites: Castle Diary, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Call It Courage, The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow, Adam of the Road, The Samurai’s Tale, Three Swords for Granada, The Door in the Wall, and The Conch Bearer (LOVED this one!)
We also always do a read-a-loud (I read) in addition to the readers. These are some of the titles we used this year: The Legend of St. Nicholas, Sir Lancelot the Great, Grandfather Ghandi, Muhammad, The Trumpeter of Krakow, Three Sacks of Truth, Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali, and Life and Times of Martin Luther.
Fourth Grade homeschool Science
This year my boys asked to do more experiments, and since we hadn’t really done a full year of chemistry yet I decided that sounded like a good way to go. It’s challenging to find secular homeschool science books but I came across Pandia Press’ Real Science Odyssey Chemistry Level 1 and decided to give it a try. The grade range was 2-5 so it seemed like a good fit, even though I was also teaching my 6th grader with the same book.
Most of the experiments were a lot of fun, although there were some that I just completely skipped because they were a bit below grade level. For example, making and playing with play-doh. Great for a 2nd grader, not so much for a 4th grader. There were a lot of poems and songs that introduced concepts that seemed a bit juvenile for my older kids as well.
Overall, Chemistry 1 was a great intro to chemistry since we had not yet tackled things in depth like the Periodic Table, the structure of atoms and molecules, acids and bases, and chemical reactions. A Level 2 book probably would have been more appropriate but they did not have one available.
We ended up finishing Chemistry early since we skipped a few things, and since we still had a few weeks left I decided to pick up the book Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World. It is such a beautifully illustrated book, and it encouraged us to get outside of our “chemistry kitchen” and explore the outdoors more. I also purchased the Nature Anatomy notebook to go with it, and we spent the last few weeks of our homeschool year using the notebook and book while learning more about the world around us. Now that is the kind of science I really enjoy!
Fourth Grade homeschool Vocabulary
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my boys really don’t like to write. After years of struggling with tears and frustration, I stopped asking them to write anything specific, and instead turned to freewriting and journal writing.
While freewriting is great, I still want to provide a solid foundation to their writing. I have been alternating focusing on grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.
This year was a focus on vocabulary (and by default, spelling). We used the Vocabulary Virtuoso book from Critical Thinking Company. Each book has 150 vocabulary words, and in the lessons kids also learn homonyms, homophones, homographs, hypothesis, key words, antonyms, hyperbole, fables, myths, folk tales, essay and speech writing.
Fourth Grade homeschool Spanish
Spanish is the one subject I struggle to find good curriculum for. We started the year using Duolingo, but after a few months I didn’t see a whole lot of progress in what they were learning. Then we tried Easy Spanish Step-by-Step, but it was really dry and did not hold my kids interest at all.
That’s when I discovered The Fun Spanish from Brookdale House. It’s target age range is grades 2-5, so it fit well for my 4th grader, but my 6th grader ended up having fun with it too. Each week they learn a new verb and how to conjugate it, and learn a handful of vocabulary words as well. The fun part comes in with the way the verbs and vocab is presented. The practice sentences are super goofy! For example, “The purple giraffe with pink legs is in the orange tree.” Makes no sense, but look at all the vocabulary they just learned! And each day they have to draw that scene in addition to writing it. Their drawings are hilarious and they giggle the whole time.
So far The Fun Spanish has been a hit with my boys and I plan to continue with it in the next year. It’s a nice relaxed way to learn a new language, and since it’s still considered an elective subject (until high school), I think it’s the perfect solution for now.
Fourth Grade homeschool Coding
While Bitsbox has been a hit with older bro, younger bro gravitated more towards code.org and Scratch, which was fine with me because both are free resources! With both sites he was able to do independent learning. I would say that Scratch probably was the one that really lit the “coding fire” for him, and soon he was suddenly interested in learning how to mod Minecraft.
Of course there aren’t too many free resources out there for Minecraft coding but we did end up investing in CodaKid after taking their 2 week trial. Both boys enjoyed it, and while younger bro focused on Minecraft, older bro went for the Roblox courses. Again these classes are for independent learning, so you as a parent don’t need any knowledge of coding. If kids have questions they can ask teachers through the messaging app.
FOURTH GRADE homeschool MUSIC
This year my son started showing an interest in learning how to play an instrument, so I started him on the recorder. He wants to play trumpet eventually, but before I started shelling out for lessons I wanted to make sure that he was really committed to practicing an instrument! While he did certainly put some effort into the recorder, let’s just say I’m not yet convinced he’s ready for the “paid” lessons approach 😉
Fourth Grade Extra-Curricular Activities
Last but not least, the “extras.”
This year we continued with karate, homeschool classes at the zoo, field trips, and Scouts. My son was finally old enough for church youth group, and he also decided to join the choir. Needless to say, we certainly kept busy this year!