Home Academics Lower School Fourth Grade

Why Fourth Grade at Friends Academy?

In fourth grade, students begin to possess more maturity, independence, and confidence than in previous years, but they are still eager to learn and love to play. At Friends, these burgeoning school leaders are given opportunities to showcase their interests and talents, and they feel safe to take risks and make mistakes in our supportive, close-knit environment.

The fourth grade curriculum dives deeply into the history, geography, and culture of the United States as its central theme, spanning subject areas including social studies, language arts, science, music, and art. Students consider what they can learn from the past to become better stewards of our country now and in the future. They also strengthen their writing, reading, and math skills to prepare them for the academic challenges of fifth grade and beyond.

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    Slide 1: Fourth graders take a close look at the United States – starting with their own region (the Northeast) and expanding to the South, Midwest, and West.
  • grade4_national-parks2
    Slide 2: Students learn about indigenous peoples, states and capitals, geographic landmarks, and significant historical events in each region.
  • grade4_national-parks3
    Slide 3: In particular, students study the National Parks – even getting sworn in as Junior Rangers!
  • grade4_national-parks4
    Slide 4: In the fall, students visit the nearby New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, where they explore the story of the whaling industry and New Bedford’s diverse cultural history.
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    Slide 5: As a capstone project in spring, students choose a national park of the West to study and create a 3D model.

Although the expectations for their academic work increase, fourth graders still have fun while learning through workshops, games, partner activities, and independent challenges. Students continue to develop a growth mindset by identifying and sharing problem-solving strategies and responding with flexibility and positivity. Both inside and outside of the classroom, teachers also devote time to working through important life skills, including conflict resolution, clear communication, mindfulness, self-regulation, and being a good friend.

Features of the Fourth Grade Experience

  • Two fourth grade students looking at a writing workbook together.

    Writers’ Workshop

    Fourth grade writing follows a workshop model, allowing students to develop multiple ideas, revise, edit, and publish more authentic pieces.

  • Three fourth grade students read books while sitting on the floor together.

    Readers’ Workshop

    Reading workshop, class novels, book clubs, and partner reading all encourage students to explore different genres and develop critical reading skills.

  • Students work on a writing assignment in the fourth grade Sally Borden Program classroom.

    Sally Borden Program Class

    In fourth grade, a dedicated Sally Borden Program class serves students with language-based learning differences. SBP students mix daily with the entire grade for specials, recess, and community periods.

  • Fourth grade students complete classwork comfortably while sitting on the classroom floor.

    Academic Choice

    At the end of each day, fourth graders work on an academic lesson of their choice. This helps build independence and allows students to take responsibility for their academic progress.

  • Spanish Language

    In fourth and fifth grades, students have Spanish twice a week. Once they get to Middle School, they can continue studying Spanish or switch to Latin.

  • Fourth grade students play a game of catch outside during recess.

    Two Recess Periods Per Day

    The fourth grade classroom looks out onto Friends Academy’s 65-acre campus. The Lower School recess area includes a playground, sand box, basketball court, and large field.

Meet the Fourth Grade Team

The fourth grade team at Friends Academy includes classroom teachers, specialists, and administrators. They work together to get to know each child personally and create a comprehensive, interdisciplinary education.

  • Audrey Spinney, Fourth Grade Teacher

    Audrey Spinney

    Fourth Grade Teacher
  • Michelle Swallow, Second Grade Teacher

    Michelle Swallow

    Fourth Grade Teacher
  • Brigid Conlon, Fourth Grade Teacher

    Brigid Conlon

    Fourth Grade Sally Borden Program Teacher
  • Merrie-Beth Cleary

    Merrie-Beth Cleary

    Learning Specialist
  • Susan Cogliano, Lower School Art Teacher

    Susan Cogliano

    Lower School Art Teacher
  • Kelly Matias

    Kelly Matias

    Spanish Teacher
  • Tisha McGonigle

    Kitashia McGonigle

    Learning Specialist
  • Tanner McMullen, Lower School Music Teacher

    Tanner McMullen

    Lower School Music Teacher
  • Ann Richard

    Ann Richard

    Interim Librarian
  • Grace Rodrigues

    Lower School Physical Education Teacher
  • Rebecca Vasa, Lower School Science Teacher

    Rebecca Vasa

    Lower School Science Teacher
  • Jamie Ross-Cory, Head of Lower School

    Jamie Ross-Cory

    Head of Lower School

Find a Place for Your Child in Fourth Grade at Friends Academy

Request more information about fourth grade or begin an application for your child today.

Fourth Grade Curriculum

At the end of each week, the fourth grade teacher sends out a newsletter to families with photos and updates about what students learned that week. (See a sample newsletter.)


Language Arts (Reading and Writing)

  • Through a workshop model, explore a variety of types of writing including personal narratives, fiction, poetry, research writing, and persuasive essays
  • Build comprehension strategies such as summarizing, visualizing, making connections, interpreting, and predicting
  • Develop spelling, grammar, handwriting, and typing skills
  • Strengthen reading stamina and comprehension, explore different genres, and develop critical reading skills through reading workshop, class novels, and independent reading


  • Expand upon, reinforce, and cement essential math skills (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division)
  • Engage with more complex problems (i.e. multi-digit multiplication)
  • Introduction to decimals via work with fractions
  • Continuation of geometric concepts with a focus on perimeter and area
  • Identify and share problem-solving strategies and respond to challenges with flexibility and positivity

Social Studies

  • Study the history, geography, and cultures of the United States, broken down into four regions (Northeast, South, Midwest, and West)
  • Explore indigenous peoples, states and capitals, national parks and major landmarks, and significant historical events (Whaling, Civil Rights, Westward Expansion/Trail of Tears, and Gold Rush) in each region
  • Build upon research skills and apply them to long-term, inquiry-based projects


  • Explore marine ecosystems – particularly whales, including their species, behaviors, and adaptations – as well as food webs and environmental impacts
  • Learn about energy and electricity, including energy transfer, circuits, conductors, and batteries
  • Begin to investigate geology (the rock cycle, types of rocks, and the difference between rocks and minerals)
  • Understand the steps of the engineering process and how they can be used to solve a problem or challenge

Physical Education

  • Promote physical activity and the benefits of healthy living
  • Develop movement skills – including locomotor movements, ball manipulative skills, and dance/gymnastics – and understand when to apply skills in game play
  • Practice life skills such as teamwork, cooperation, respect, taking turns, following directions, and communicating with peers


  • Understanding of foreground, middle ground, and background
  • Recognizing color relationships (analogous and monochromatic)
  • Differentiating between realism and abstraction
  • Reflection on art-making process and an ability to assess their progress


  • Develop functional musicianship skills
  • Learn to read sheet notation
  • Explore arrangement of music
  • Read traditional notation in multiple clefs and meters
  • Learn the basics of piano, including stepwise and skipping melodies, playing melodies by ear, reading lead sheet notation, and accompaniment of a pop song cover


  • Gain confidence in using a new language by acquiring basic Spanish vocabulary and looking at simple Spanish stories.
  • Learn about Spanish-speaking countries and their capitals to show where the Spanish language comes from.


  • Learn techniques and ethics of research, including searching databases, choosing reputable websites, and including proper citations
  • Practice methods of organizing digital research, such as saving images on Google Drive
  • Write a research paper about an author
  • Discover new books for independent reading time