4th Grade Curriculum Picks
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Our 2019/2020 4th-Grade Curriculum Picks
How did we end up with our 4th-grade curriculum picks? After using boxed curriculums during our first two years homeschooling, we realized one for all wasn’t for us. Beginning in 2nd-grade we transitioned to a Custom Timberdoodle curriculum kit. Doing so gave me the confidence I needed to now piece together my own curriculums to match my children’s learning styles. Timberdoodle’s Curriculum Kits are great, they include top-notch books making them the leaders in Hands-on, Critical Thinking, and STEM choices.
My soon to be 4th-grader learning style and the reality of homeschooling 3 elementary-aged kids are the driving forces behind our own 4th-grade curriculum picks. We still use a few pieces Timberdoodle Co. includes in their 4th-grade kits, however, we have substituted so much it no longer qualifies to be considered a Customized Timberdoodle kit. Let’s now take a look at What we chose, Why we chose it, and Where you can find it.
1. Essentials in Writing 4.
👉(Click on the link to read my full review of EIW) LINK→Essentials in Writing a Gift for Reluctant Writers.←
This is a complete Writing curriculum with Video lessons that is split into 2 parts. The first half of this program covers basic Grammar and sentences, and the second half teaches basic Composition.
After using a boxed curriculum with my eldest child in 1st-grade with less than stellar writing results, we moved on to Essentials in writing (EIW) beginning in 2nd-grade. We’ve been using EIW for the last 2 years with two of my school-aged children and they are both blossoming into great young writers. In our creative writing experience, if you push too hard too soon your child will resist and dread learning how to write for years to come, having a long hard journey ahead of you both. I made this mistake and my advice is to use caution when choosing a writing curriculum for these early elementary years.
Essentials in Writing is a writing curriculum that uses a gentle and easy approach when teaching writing. The instruction videos are short (3-5 minutes) and each lesson is explained Step-by-Step by the teacher and founder of the program Matthew Stephens. EIW prides itself on only presenting small chunks of information at a time, making it also a great writing curriculum choice for kids who struggle with dyslexia. Many students after using Essentials in Writing go on to do wonderfully in college. There are many testimonials on their website of college-bound kids who have aced their English Class after using this curriculum and I have provided a link for your convenience. Link→ (Essentials in Writing Parents Reviews)
By the end of our 3rd-grade year, our son is thriving using this curriculum and so is his younger brother after finishing level 1. There is no other writing curriculum I’d use, at least during the elementary years.
2. All About Spelling levels 4.
👉(Click on the link to read my full review) LINK→ All About Spelling vs. Spelling You See.←
“All About Spelling” teaches great unique little tricks that truly make learning spelling a breeze, without relying solely on memorization.
All About Spelling (AAS) has been a complete game-changer for us, making spelling easy to learn using its multisensory approach. Because we only started using this program with my eldest son in 3rd-grade, we had to backtrack and begin from level 1, completing the first 3 levels by the end of 3rd-grade. We foresee completing AAS level 4 in 4th-grade (Maybe even beginning some of level 5) .
Before using this program my eldest son really had no luck learning spelling. A couple of months into his 3rd-grade school year, I realized the program we had been using up to that point wasn’t working. My son did not have a clear direction or understanding of how to spell English words and was widely guessing, making the whole process highly frustrating for him.
After using All About Spelling for only a few months, my son’s improvement was undeniable. We now use this program with all our children and it has been a lifesaver particularly with my eldest. My son finally feels like his spelling light bulb went on and says this program has taken the confusion and guessing out of spelling. I highly recommend AAS as it can be easily adapted to many learning styles.
3. All About Homophones
All About Homophones is a one time purchase that will cover the teaching of all homophones for grades 1-8. This book is truly Open and Go, offering many different ways to teach, learn and practice homophones.
The main part of this book provides Homophone worksheets where the student will need to choose the right homophone to complete each of the 10 pre-printed sentences. Yes, as easy as that! All Homophone worksheets are listed by grade at the beginning of the book so parents know exactly what needs to be covered in each grade. Also, provided are a few graphic organizers (charts and diagrams) students fill in with a homophone definition and drawing. Another part of the All About Homophones book offers 14 crossword puzzles and each of these puzzles will cover many homophones taught throughout the book. Parents can copy these graphic organizers and/or Crossword Puzzles for their children to use as additional practice as they see fit. Finally, at the back end of this book, parents will find additional enrichment tools such as Card Games “Pig, Go Fish, Old Maid, Homophone Memory Game, Snap, Homophone Pile-Up”, and many homophone Tongue Twisters and Riddles. Everything comes with instructions and suggestions on how to play/use as extra enrichment activities. You can do one worksheet a week, one a day, or as many or as little activities you want and no matter what your child is bound to easily learn their homophones with little effort but LOTS of fun!🤗
4. A Reason for Handwriting – level D
Last year in 3rd-grade we used “A reason for Handwriting – lev T” to learn cursive handwriting. We found this book to be pretty straight-forward and really like their cursive letter style. For these reasons, I decided to continue our cursive practice in 4th-grade by continuing using the “A Reason for Handwriting” series using level D.
5a. Abeka’s Reading Comprehension Skill Sheets 2 (New Edition)
After focusing on expediting my child’s Reading Speed in 3rd-grade, this year I’ve decided to shift my focus on strengthening my 4th-grader’s reading comprehension skills. Although my son can definitely understand what he reads, he needs some extra help from a technical standpoint. When I say “technical standpoint” I don’t mean he needs an iPad or laptop😆. Since I completed my education in another country, sometimes trying to teach certain things to my children is not easy because some things get lost in translation.
Abeka’s Reading Comprehension Skill Sheets 2 contains 36 short reading selections followed by questions meant to guide the student in developing strong reading comprehension strategies and skills. This book will help a child identify and understand the following: Title, Author, Main Character, Main Idea, Plot, Moral, Author’s intention, Cause & Effect, Problem & Solution, Compare & Contrast, Context, Fact vs. Opinion, Fantasy vs. Reality, Inference, Sequence, Setting, and more.
Students will also begin practicing Silent Reading Skills throughout this curriculum. This is a very important skill to develop as it lays the foundations for when a student will be “reading to learn”.
**make sure you also purchase the Teacher’s Edition to get the most out of these practice sheets.
5b. Reading Comprehension Fundamentals 4
If your child is up to par with his reading comprehension skills then I would recommend using this book in 4th-grade to strengthen and enhance the applications of his comprehension skills. Because my son had some makeup work to do we decided to backtrack and use the “Abeka’s Reading Comprehensions Skill Sheets 2”.
Reading Comprehension Fundamentals 4 is divided into 2 parts: fiction and nonfiction texts. In the first half of this book, students will be studying Nonfiction text covering the following: (Main Ideas & Details; Text Features & Visual Information; Description; Cause & Effect; Compare and Contrast; Sequence; Problem & Solution; Vocabulary; Summarize; Predict; Fact & Opinion; Make inferences; Author’s Purpose; Text Structure; Expository-Persuasive-Narrative-Description Nonfiction).
The second half of the book students will be studying Fiction text covering the following: (Character; Setting; Plot; Theme; Point of View; Vocabulary; Visual Information; Summarize; Make Inferences; Predict; Cause & Effect; Compare and Contrast; Foreshadowing; Idioms; Historical-Realistic Fiction; Mystery).
The way we use this book is by completing 1 worksheet 4 days a week and it doesn’t take more than 10-15 min a day.
The Dragon’s Hoard, The Sword in the Tree, The Whipping Boy, Stone Fox, The
Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Lion King, Toy Story 4, The Adams Family (Junior Novel). These are the books we have already read so far into our 4th-grade school year (end of Sept). Many more 4th-grade or 9-10 years old level reading books will be added to our school reading list. I’ll be posting our 2019/2020 Reading list towards the end of our school year. If you don’t want to miss this post when it comes out, make sure to subscribe to our email list.
7a. Progeny Press Literature Study Guides.
The literature we study in Italy is very different from the literature commonly taught in the U.S. After many hours of research, I picked “The Progeny Press Reading guides” as my literature and study guide helpers. Different Study Guides are recommended depending on the student’s grade and abilities. I’ve personally reached out to the company and for 4th grade, these are the study guides they recommended to pick from.
- Hall of Doors: The Dragon’s Hoard (slightly easier).
- The sword in the Tree.
- The Whipping Boy.
- Stone Fox.
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins & Cricket in Times Square (slightly harder/more challenging).
To complete the study guides, students have 2 options. They can read the entire book during week one and then complete 1 page of the study guide x day (only 3 days x week). The other option is for students to read the chapters as they go, needed to complete each section of the guides. For example, the students must have read chapter 1 & 2 if the section of the study guide is titled Chapter 1 & 2. These study guides are meant to be completed with an open book and at the end of it all, you can move as slow or as fast as needed to match your child’s abilities. We are planning to complete the following 3 Progeny Press Study Guides in 4th-grade.
<-Book <-Study Guide
<-Book <-Study Guide
<-Book <-Study Guide
7b. Free Book Report Templates
TIP!→ (you can find us on Pinterest “Homeschooling Along” then click on our Free Printables Board, there you’ll find some FREE with NO-STRINGS attached Book Report Templates for you to print).
My advice is to keep it Simple and do not Overuse these, to avoid taking the joy out of the young readers’ experience. Many kids at this age have not developed their creative writing skills yet. By pushing kids too much and too soon, they will dread picking up a new book to read as they will predict what’s to come when they finish it. Keep it light, basic, and sporadic, as this is only an introduction to book reports. Our kids will have many years ahead of them to learn more and master this skill.🤷♀️
1. Math-U-See – levels Delta followed by Epsilon*
👉(click on the link to read my full review) LINK→Math-U-See review of levels Primer and up.←
MUS is a mastery-based program which means it focuses on one concept at a time for each level. Delta level corresponds to 4th-grade and it solely focuses on divisions (single & multi-digits).
We have switched to using MUS with my eldest child in 2nd grade and after going through 4 levels between 2 kids, I can confidently say we will never use anything else. Many parents are thrown off by the sequence of this program and believe their kids are “behind” compared to what kids in public school are learning. First of all, have you heard the insanity of public school’s common core elementary math? For that alone I couldn’t be more grateful we are homeschooling. With weekly video lessons, MUS takes the stress of teaching math off the parents leaving it into Mr. Demme’s capable hands. There is no better math teacher out there I would rather my kids to learn math from!
You can move through each level as fast or as slow as your child needs to, we happen to do math year round and my son will be moving into Epsilon (fractions) in the middle of his 4th-grade year.
|Math-U-See Delta Universal Set
*Also included in Timberdoodle 4th-grade Curriculum Kits.
1. Building Thinking Skills – book 2*
Published by The Critical Thinking Co. “Building Thinking Skills Book 2“ is a great book to use for teaching kids logical reasoning skills.
This book helps young students practice different skills in various developmental areas such as: Logical thinking, Spatial thinking, Descriptive writing, Vocabulary, Patterns, Classifying and Identifying similarities/ differences, Verbal sequences – classifications and analogies. Worksheet assignments are very straight forward making it possible for students to complete independently.
Some parents might get overwhelmed by the size of this book but keep in mind most pages flow easily and fast for most kids. We completed level 1 of this book series in 2nd-grade by doing 3-4 pages a day in a 36 week school year and plan to do the same with level 2. I’m a big supporter of including at least one Critical Thinking piece into our school year. I find this book to be a great addition, offering many mind-benders that truly help kids think outside the box.
*Also included in Timberdoodle 4th-grade Curriculum Kits.
👉(click on the link to read my full review) LINK→ How to Play ColorKu|Review←
Playing the Colorku game is a great way to help kids develop and strengthen their logic and strategic problem-solving thinking skills.
ColorKu is a colored version of the Sudoku puzzle where colors take place of the Sudoku numbers and players don’t need to know how to play Sudoku to enjoy this mind sharpening logic game. ColorKu is for ages 8+, however, this puzzle/game is also a great option for adults who want to keep their brain sharp, offering limitless hours of mind-bending, problem-solving exercise for people of almost all ages.
*Also included in Timberdoodle 4th-grade Curriculum Kits.
History & Geography
1. The Good and The Beautiful History – Year 1
After 3 years of using Abeka History, this will be our first year using a different curriculum. TGTB History Year 1 covers from Ancient history through Modern history and it is divided into 4 units.
- Ancient History
- The Middle Ages & The Renaissance
- The French & Indian War through the Revolutionary War
- The Victorian Era, The History of Flight & The Cold War
The History Course Book is really Open and Go and each lesson is already planned out for parents, giving all instructions of when to use the included History Big Book (story & visual book) and History Key Game. Yes, this history curriculum includes a great little board game that helps kids solidify some important and interesting historical facts covered throughout this course. Also included with TGTB History Year 1 is the PDF Student Explorers. The course book will indicate when to use the Student Explorers (worksheets) and you will use the Student Explorer that corresponds to your child’s grade (1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12).
One of the reasons we chose TGTB History 1 is due to its friendly scheduling and how its lessons are easily adaptable to families with different age range children like ours. If covering the whole course in 1 year is desired, then all you’ll need is to cover 2 history lessons a week. Each lesson shouldn’t take any longer than 30-40 minutes unless you choose to do any suggested read aloud books or dig deeper into any part of the lessons. I know some families in the lower elementary grades prefer splitting this course over 2 years. If that is the case, then only 1 lesson per week should suffice. No matter how often you chose to do TGTB History I hope you’ll enjoy as much as we do! Here is a link to TGTB History 1 webpage to help you decide if this is a good fit for you.
⇒ LINK→ TGTB History 1 Webpage.←
2. Ace’s Florida History Set (PACEs 1037-1042)
In 4th-grade, we will be dedicating the first 6 weeks of our history studies to our State History. After extended research, I’ve decided to use the Ace’s Florida History Set due to its style and full-color pictures which allow students to actually “see” Florida. With 4 paperback booklets 40 pages each, this set includes fill-in-the-blank, word-bank, multiple-choice type exercises to help with review and retention.
|Grade 4 Florida History PACEs 1037-1042 (4th Edition)|
3. History Readers: (Available on Amazon.com or Timberdoodle.com)
- True Stories of World War I
- True Stories of World War II
- True Stories of the Civil War 4.
24 Hours History set: (Available on Amazon.com or Timberdoodle.com)
- The Apollo 11 Moon Landing: July 20, 1969
- The Assassination of John F. Kennedy: November 22, 1963
- The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr: April 4, 1968
- The Attack on Pearl Harbor: December 7, 1941 – D-Day: June 6, 1944
- D-Day: June 6, 1944
4. The 7 Continents: “North America” book – by Evan Moor
The “North America” geography book by Evan Moor provides plenty of U.S. Map work exercises, charts, and also covers America’s Physical Features, Political Divisions, Resources, and Culture of the continent. The information is presented in short articles with review questions following. The Seven Continents series books are all reproducible and perfect for families like ours with multiple school children. With only about 106 worksheet pages (many visual maps and charts), the North America book should easily flow and might leave us with enough time to also cover South America as well this year.🤷♀️ With the purchase of these books, you’ll also be given FREE access to downloadable full-page maps on the Evan Moor webpage with a code provided inside each book. Happy Fun Learning!
1. Marine Biology & Metereology – by The Good and The Beautiful (TGTB)
TGTB offers so many beautifully illustrated Open and Go science units (and many more to be released in the near future), our biggest problem is choosing which one to do first! Some units are shorter than others but in general, families could easily do 2-3 per year. By only covering 2 units per school year you’ll have plenty of time to expand each unit by reading related books (you’ll find many title suggestions at the beginning of each curriculum). If adding readers to each science unit is not of your interest, it is absolutely fine since they already do a wonderful job beautifully covering each subject.
TGTB science lessons are not dry and boring but very engaging for all ages. These units are meant to be done together as a family with suggested activities grouped by age range throughout the lessons in each unit. If you do 2 lessons per week you’ll be covering all units currently available in about 3.5 years. I believe by following this schedule you’ll be covering 3-4 units per school year. Because we are not in a rush I’ve only added 2 units to our 4th-grade schedule, however, I did buy 4 more so if we finish early we’ll have plenty of choices to pick from. Below is a link to TGTB science webpage for you to browse their units and also watch their short video explaining more about how to teach their science units (Super Easy).
2. Dr. Bonyfide 2*
Dr. Bonyfide is a cute kid-friendly series of 4 books, that teaches kids in a super fun way about the human skeleton, the different names, and functions of our bones.
This year we’ll be using “book 2” where Dr. Bonyfide with the aide of X-Ray glasses and fun activities, teaches students all about the Bones of the Foot, Leg, and Pelvis. My kids highly enjoyed Dr. Bonyfide-book 1 last year to the point they don’t even consider it to be part of their school work. SCORE!😄
*Also included in Timberdoodle 4th-grade Curriculum Kits.
3. Health, Nutrition, P.E. (3-4)
This is a small book divided into 3 units: 1)Health, 2) Nutrition, 3)P.E. and each of these units briefly touch on many concepts. Please keep in mind if you’re looking for a health curriculum that covers concepts into detail, this is not the book for you. I personally found this book to be perfect for our children’s age range as it gives just enough information without boring them and losing their attention. For the most part, one page (front & back) is dedicated to cover one concept with a total of 87 pages (the other pages are Content, Introduction, Answering keys, etc.). Each page presents the information in short articles followed by review questions, or other short assignments. In all, we plan to cover one concept per week, making this a once a week worksheet assignment subject.
1. Ozobot Evo
This year instead of buying a new STEM item, I decided to take a breath and allow my children to truly use, enjoy, understand and explore more all they have so far (God knows they have more than enough). The truth is sometimes us parents get so caught up in this rat race of getting the latest educational toy, robot and so on, we don’t even give our children the chance to stop and let them use what they have. We buy, sell and repeat, but what about all the wonderful things we just purchased maybe last year? Is one school year truly enough time for our children to explore and truly learn all those items have to offer? So this year I hit the pause button and I’m not buying or selling…for a change I’m using what we already have.
Ozobot Evo is a small but powerful robot that teaches kids the basics of coding.
We have owned this robot for almost a year now and I honestly didn’t have the time to look into this tiny mystery robot as much as I would have liked to and discover more of its many functions. My son can spend endless hours playing with his Ozobot and drew his very own path for it by using big white poster cardboards and enjoys watching all of his plans come to life. Since my son enjoys playing with Ozobot and there is so much more left to discover and learn about it, our goal for 4th-grade is going on the Ozobot website and learn how to code in Blockly language into it. This step teaches kids how to program their own Ozobot by writing the code, then holding the robot up to the computer screen to get it transferred over to it. Cool right?!
For siblings is a good idea to each get their own Ozobot, so they can all race and maybe compete on who wrote the best Program. 😉 We bought the black Ozobot Evo model for our 2nd-grader and our youngest (kindergartener) has the one with the Iron Man’s skin. The super Hero skins are pretty interesting and add a cool feature for kids as they talk differently. We foresee buying all the other superhero skins so so our children’s Ozobots can all communicate with each other. Definitely a robot worth buying and pretty great to play in a group as well.
Typing Instructor for Kids – Platinum
Whether your child is planning on becoming a writer or not, Keyboarding skills are required in most jobs these days, and many employers are looking for fast typers, not your average Joe (I’m a below average Joe).😔
Think about today’s professions and tell me if Keyboarding isn’t in it. From a Bank Teller to a Police Officer, Physician, Lawyer, CEO, or Programmer, they all require typing skills. Unfortunately the slower a person types, the less productive they are, which also make them a less desirable candidate for the job or promotion. Anyone out there reading this still wants to skip Keyboarding lessons??😆
We have used “Typing Instructor for Kids” as our keyboarding program and it’s a good program to use for young children. I did find its games could become a bit too distracting for some kids and try to stay away and stick to strictly the typing part of this program.
1. Complete-A-Sketch 1-2-3 – Volume 2 & 3 (Isometric & Perspective).
Complete-A-Sketch is a great program recommended for any child who loves to build and might have an inclination to any engineering skills.
After completing volume 1 in 3rd-grade, we will be moving on to complete Volume 2 & 3 during our 4th-grade year. I’d like to say, although we absolutely love this program “Complete-A-Sketch” is not for everyone. Its attention to detail and precision drawing requirements do need lots of dedication and patience for a child of this age and it can be frustrating or boring to some. My child is naturally very detail oriented, loves to build and dreams of drawing his own constructions, so this is right up his alley.
I love how by using this program and learning how to simply draw an equilateral triangle or a circle, my child is learning and practicing his Fine Motor Skills (by using the ruler to precisely make those straight lines or learning how to use a compass to draw a perfect circle), but also his math skills to make sure all sides are the same size, or how the radius of the circle size determines the size of the circle itself). These are some serious Fine Motor, Thinking and Math skills all packed in this CD, together with great sketches just waiting to come to life! – by INSIGHT TECHNICAL EDUCATION.
2. “My Crazy Inventions” Book*
Our son is very creative, he loves to build with Lego or anything he can get his hands on. He creates things out of cereal, pasta, or any cardboard boxes he can get his hands on. Come to find out Dr. Alan Mendelsohnthe co-author of a study done by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in this report mentions how kids can simply use a cardboard box to play and help develop their creative and imaginative skills. 👉You can find out more about the American Academy of Pediatrics latest clinical report here→ LINK→Hands-On Toys|AAP’s New Recommendation←
If your children love to invent and learn about inventors then this is a great book for you to add on to your curriculum list. “My Crazy Inventions” book engages a child’s creativity by talking about many inventions some famous and some failed, to then prompt them to draw their own. This book offers many great starter-up ideas to help get their own going. A very creative and fun book! 🤓
*Also included in Timberdoodle 4th-grade Curriculum Kits.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
May 4th-Grade be filled with Blessings and lots of Peaceful/Fun learning,