Fourth grade is the big leap from little kid to big kid. It’s a year of great strides academically, socially, and emotionally. Taking on fourth grade this year? We’ve scoured our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook and the web for some of the best tips and ideas for teaching 4th grade. While it by no means covers every possible topic, we hope this list of gems will inspire you, whether you are a brand new teacher or a veteran. And, we’ve organized the list by topic to make it easy to cruise for ideas!
Getting Your Classroom Ready
1. Create an inviting classroom.
Need ideas to take your classroom to the next level? We’ve gathered real-life fourth grade classrooms for you to browse!
2. Gather all the supplies.
Not sure what supplies you need for your fourth grade classroom? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with this list of essential fourth grade classroom supplies .
3. Pick an inspiring theme for your classroom.
“‘Science is Outta This World’! Do a space theme with rockets above different locations you are studying, a mad scientist mixing up a potion and vocabulary words coming out of the smoke puffs!” —Johnna M.
“The Jungle works for so many subjects, like life and how things change in time.” —Liz H.
“What about ‘Your World Matters’?” —Mindy J.
“The Rainforest!” —Ann M.
“‘Heroes All Around Us’ with monthly featured ‘heroes,’ both famous and local.” —Ashley M.
4. Try different classroom layouts.
Long gone are the days of straight rows of desks lining the classroom. Throw out your seating chart and try one of these ideas instead.
5. Fill your classroom library with these classic fourth grade books.
Teaching fourth grade involves a lot of reading! Here are 50 of our favorites.
6. Get a jump start on lessons.
Teacher planning and prep time are precious! It makes life a lot easier when you can purchase existing lessons, bundles, books, and pages. And why not support other teachers while you do it! Check out our favorite Teacher Pay Teachers sellers for fourth grade.
The First Days of School
7. Introduce yourself creatively.
Make day one memorable by introducing yourself in a creative way, such as sending postcards over the summer! For 10 creative ideas, click here.
8. Make big plans!
We love this start-of-year activity from Write On, Fourth Grade! Start by reading Big Plans by Bob Shea and Lane Smith. Then on construction paper, have students create their own plans for fourth grade, for their school career, and for adulthood. Hang ‘em up and label the wall “Our Big Plans!”
9. Establish an anti-bullying culture from day one with resources from Kid Pointz.
Download free and kid-centric anti-bullying printables from Kid Pointz to help your students understand the importance of avoiding peer pressure and handling bullies constructively.
“I also went to the dollar store and got these cute little ‘pledge’ cards that kids can sign at the beginning of the year to pledge that they won’t bully each other and will report bullying when they see it. It’s a great way to start the year!” —Jen B.
10. Establish a culture of kindness.
Print these free, downloadable posters to remind your students that kindness matters most of all.
11. Build your students’ social-emotional skills.
Teaching 3rd grade means building SEL skills. Use these read-alouds to talk about everything from kindness to courage to trying your best.
12. Create classroom jobs for your students.
Here are some creative ideas from our teacher community: tech support, environmental support, organizer, textbook coordinator, sanitation engineer, librarian, substitute, chief in charge, messenger, paper passer, supply clerk, IT technician, human resources officer, administrative assistant, waste management.
13. Make a class time capsule.
At the beginning of the year, have the students write down their thoughts, expectations, goals, feelings, and predictions. Put them all in a decorated jar, seal it up, and then read them all in the last week of school!
14. Keep your students linked into the big picture of the lesson
We love this kid-friendly version of a teacher’s lesson plans. Put day-specific “Today I am…” “So that I can…” and “I’ll know I’ve got it if…” posters on your board.
15. Out with boring worksheets! Engage your fourth graders with:
- “Thinking maps that students create.” —Aimee V.
- “Brain-based activities and games.” —Joy W.
- “Foldables. Check out Dinah Zikes for ideas!” —Dianne K.
- “Interactive notebooks!” —Shanna J.
16. Use the walls for anchor charts instead of premade posters.
You can check out our top 4th grade anchor charts for inspiration here.
Ideas for Language Arts
17. Incorporate daily writing prompts.
We’ve gathered 50 writing prompts that you can download and use to have your fourth graders practice their writing skills.
18. Use paint chips to inspire sensory poetry.
Let color work its inspiration for your fourth-grade poets. —Fabulous in Fifth. Check out other educational uses for paint chips here!
19. Teach apostrophe usage with a strong visual.
We like this one from Write On, Fourth Grade!
20. Teach the difference between tone and mood with this helpful anchor chart.
Practice applying the definitions by reading passages in class and asking students to identify the difference between tone and mood in each passage.
21. Teach how to use context clues as a skill to bridge into larger close reading skills.
We love this anchor chart.
22. Teach the difference between literal and figurative meanings through writing and drawing.
Take sentences from your class’s current text that use figurative language and have students (literally!) illustrate and explain the difference in the literal and figurative meanings of the expressions.
23. Try a vocabulary activity. Or 15!
Use RAFTs, try vocabulary Jeopardy, and more with these vocabulary activities.
Ideas for Math
24. Practice math skills with the most mathematical icebreaker ever.
This is a great first-day-of-school activity that doubles as both an icebreaker and a math review of last year’s skills. Students create a poster of math equations representing different aspects of who they are, and then they can get to know each other by solving the problems. Bonus: You’ll have instant wall art for Back-to-School Night! From Fourth Grade Fun in Florida
25. Reinforce prime numbers with a fun card game.
Prime numbers become instantly cool when you use them to win this card game from Education.com! Download the activity for free here.
26. Learn about area and perimeter with robots!
How fun are these ’bots? Students apply their understanding of area and perimeter by creating different robots based on mathematical specifications provided to them.
27. Focus on fractions.
If it’s not math fluency, it’s fractions. The better understanding fourth graders have of fractions, the better off they’ll be when the quantities get more complicated or the operations get sophisticated. We really love this poolnoodle fractions hack for teaching 4th grade.
28. Watch videos.
It’s much more fun to teach multiplication and division when you’re watching a video!
29. Teach the dreaded word problem.
With these word problem activities and strategies.
30. Play fun online games to reinforce math concepts.
This giant list of math websites should be bookmarked on your computer! It’s full of free online math games perfect for transitioning between lessons, a reward for good behavior, or a wrap-up activity for a math lesson!
Ideas for Science
31. Get hands-on with science.
Science is the perfect subject for kids to get down and dirty. Try these 30 fourth grade science projects for inspiration.
32. Try daily STEM challenges.
These STEM challenges are designed with your fourth graders in mind. Try one each day or each week to get their minds thinking outside the box.
33. Teach the plant life cycle!
Plant life cycle is always a fun science unit. You get to talk about growing, planting, and nature. Plus, students love digging in and getting their hands dirty when they plant a seed themselves.
34. Teach electricity.
It’s electrifyingly good fun! Shock them with these science experiments!
35. Explore animal habitats.
Ready to explore animal habitats around the world, from rainforests to deserts and everything in between? These fun activities are just what you’re looking for. Take a walk on the wild side!
Ideas for Social Studies
36. Try social studies inquiry circles.
Address the required standards through inquiry-based learning! Here’s a how-to guide from the One Stop Teacher Shop. Watch your kids sink their teeth into the “thick versus thin” concept, and the Work Plan Form will help students take control of their own learning.
37. Learn about heroes.
Read biographies about famous people in history. Match books to holidays, like Presidents’ Day or Black History Month.
38. Use online learning.
There are some amazing websites out there for teaching social studies lessons. Check out our 50+ favorites.
39. Take a field trip.
The independence of nine- and ten-year-olds, coupled with grade-level focus on their state, makes for lots of fantastic options for fourth grade field trips.
Ideas for Classroom Organization
40. Check homework, three ways …
1. “Pick what’s most important about the lesson, not the small details, and grade that way. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. The important thing is, did they understand the content?” —Megan P.
2. “For my gradebook, students receive credit for returning homework completed. I go around and mark them off, then I put the answers up and students correct it themselves. I then go over any problems that the students request for me to explain.” —Montoya M.
3. “I have a box of clothespins with each kid’s name on them. They clip their pin to their homework and drop it into the homework file up front. It’s easy to tell who didn’t hand in homework because you just take a glance at the remaining clothespins! I set a two-minute timer for them to complete this so it doesn’t take too long, and my fourth graders do it in no time! You just have to practice and train them. Make a game out of ‘beating the timer’ without pushing or shoving.” —Jamie S.
41. Set up interactive, exciting centers in your classroom.
Having centers, or workstations, in your fourth grade classroom allows students to work independently.
“When introducing a new independent activity, I usually do it in small groups first, so when put in the independent stations, they are able to do it without my help.” —Carol V.
“I have center folders that students keep their work in, and at the end of the cycle of centers, I grade the work as 100, 80, or 60 based upon what’s done and the quality. I give one center grade for each cycle.” —Gary F.
Ideas for Classroom Management
42. STOP in the name of class.
We love this method of letting a student know his behavior is off-task—without interrupting the flow of the lesson. Hand one of these to a student who needs a reminder to focus and you’ll be in the clear. Click here for free printables from Rock and Teach to make your own!
43. Establish classroom community in the first days of school with heart maps.
Your fourth graders can express what matters most to them by illustrating and writing in these heart maps. Download a free template from Fourth Grade Lemonade.
44. Affirm them daily.
We love this idea of leaving positive sticky notes for kids every day to encourage them and let them know you’re behind them 100 percent!
45. Teach students the art of note-taking.
Fourth grade is a wonderful level for students to begin taking their own notes. Using a handy anchor chart will help remind them of the different approaches to note-taking they can use.
46. Get the wiggles out.
Even grown-ups can’t sit still and listen all day! Get your kids up and moving with awesome fourth grade brain breaks .
47. Reward positive classroom behavior with fun coupons.
You can print a set here for free.
48. Keep track of where your fourth graders are without the aggravating sign-in/sign-out sheets.
These little magnets make managing your class easy. Add in any typical places your kiddies may go on a given day.
49. Have a sense of humor.
Teaching fourth grade requires a sense of humor, both for yourself and your students. Poetry from Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky hit right at fourth graders’ funny bones. Or try one of our fourth grade jokes to start the day .
50. Build positive relationships with parents.
Here are ten tips for making working with parents the easiest part of your job.
What are your top tips for teaching 4th grade? Come in share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, your guide to the fourth grade classroom .