Are you new to teaching fourth grade and looking for inspo? Or have you been doing this for a while and you’re looking for ways to revamp what you’re already doing? We’ve got you! We’ve looked through our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook and the web for some of the best tips for teaching fourth grade. We’ve organized the list by topic to make it easy to cruise for ideas. Let’s do this!
Getting Your Classroom Ready
1. Classroom setup
Need ideas to make sure your classroom is ready for your students? Here’s an excerpt from the book Responsive Classroom: What Every 4th Grade Teacher Needs To Know About Setting Up and Running a Classroom.
2. 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.
3. Fill your classroom library with these classic fourth grade books
Teaching fourth grade involves a lot of reading! Here is a big list of our favorites.
4. Create interactive bulletin boards
Have you ever heard of or tried interactive bulletin boards? Here’s an article from Brittany Jeltema and her tips for bulletin boards students can use. Plus, here are our favorite interactive bulletin boards for inspiration.
5. 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
6. Introduce yourself creatively
Make day one memorable by introducing yourself in a creative way, such as sending postcards over the summer. Here are our favorite creative teacher introduction ideas.
7. Make “Big Plans”
We love this start-of-the-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”!
8. Set goals with your students
Have you ever heard the phrase “a goal without a plan is just a wish”? Let’s support our students in turning their wishes into actions with this goal-setting activity.
9. Establish an anti-bullying culture from day one
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. Plus check out our anti-bullying videos and anti-bullying books to share with your students.
“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 classroom posters to remind your students that kindness matters most of all.
11. Build your students’ social-emotional skills
Teaching fourth grade means building SEL skills. Use these SEL 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 classroom job 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. Plus check out these creative classroom job charts.
13. Encourage students to make new friends and maintain existing friendships
14. Make a class time capsule
At the beginning of the year, have 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.
15. 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.
16. Get rid of the boring worksheets
Instead, engage your fourth graders with:
- “Thinking maps that students create.” —Aimee V.
- “Brain-based activities and games.” —Joy W. (Check out these fourth grade brain breaks.)
- “Foldables. Check out Dinah Zike for ideas!” —Dianne K.
- “Interactive notebooks!” —Shanna J.
17. Use the walls for anchor charts instead of premade posters
Check out our top fourth grade anchor charts for inspiration.
18. Ground your teaching in ABAR work
Learning for Justice is a website that offers free educational resources for all grade levels in order to engage and focus our learners and ourselves in community, collective action, and social justice. Bookmark this website so you have it all year long.
Ideas for Language Arts
19. Incorporate daily writing prompts
We’ve gathered a big list of fourth grade writing prompts that you can download and use to have your students practice their writing skills.
20. Use paint chips to inspire sensory poetry
21. Teach apostrophe usage with a strong visual
We like this one from Write On, Fourth Grade!
22. Teach the difference between tone and mood with a 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. Check out this helpful tone and mood anchor chart.
23. Teach how to use context clues to bridge into larger close-reading skills
We love this context clues anchor chart.
24. 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.
25. Try a vocabulary activity … or 15
Use RAFTs, try Vocabulary Jeopardy, and more with these vocabulary activities.
26. Help fourth graders find just the right word
Speaking of vocabulary, when teaching fourth grade, show students how to grow their vocabulary by spending time finding just the right word for their essay or story. Check out all the options for classroom thesauruses.
Ideas for Math
27. 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.
28. Focus on fact fluency
Being able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide quickly and accurately will serve your fourth graders well. Spend some time each day practicing math facts with these effective teaching strategies.
29. Reinforce math skills with fun games
Check out all of these fantastic free math card games for fourth graders.
30. Learn about area and perimeter with robots
31. 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 pool noodle fractions hack for teaching fourth grade.
32. Teach the dreaded word problem
Use these word problem activities and strategies.
Ideas for Science
33. Get hands-on with science
Science is the perfect subject for kids to get down and dirty. Try these fourth grade science projects for inspiration.
34. 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.
35. 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 seeds themselves. Here are our favorite activities for teaching plant life cycles.
36. Take a deep dive into ecosystems
Learn about specific animals and how climate change, conservation, and people’s decisions impact their lives. The World Wildlife Fund has lessons on animals from polar bears to monarch butterflies.
37. Teach electricity
It’s electrifyingly good fun! Shock them with these electricity science experiments!
38. Explore animal habitats
Ready to explore animal habitats around the world, from rain forests to deserts and everything in between? These fun animal habitat activities are just what you’re looking for. Take a walk on the wild side!
Ideas for Social Studies
39. Try social studies inquiry circles
Address the required standards through inquiry-based learning. Here’s an inquiry-based learning 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.
40. Add social justice books to your library
Here is a list of the Best Social Justice Books for Kids of All Ages! Reminder: Books don’t have to be brand-new to be valuable. Check out your local library and Facebook groups, or buy used to save some bills.
41. Remind students that “all means all”
Learn about ALL people by including LGBTQ+ inclusive books in your social studies lessons.
42. Learn about heroes
43. Plan an assembly
Teach your fourth graders how to bring a big project together by taking on a school assembly. Plan the assembly from start to finish; here are ideas to get you started.
44. Use online learning
There are some amazing websites out there for teaching social studies lessons. Check out this big list of our favorites.
45. Take a field trip
The independence of 9- and 10-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
46. Check homework three ways
- “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.
- “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. Then I go over any problems that the students request for me to explain.” —Montoya M.
- “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.
47. 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.
48. Make sure you’re supporting your students with disabilities
It’s likely that some of your fourth graders will have accommodations or modifications that you’re in charge of. One way to make sure you’re providing students with their accommodations is to make a note of which accommodations they need by their name on a discussion or participation tracker. This will help you feel confident that you’re helping each student access learning, and allow you to contribute insights at the IEP meeting.
Ideas for Classroom Management
49. Quietly redirect
Looking for a way to redirect your students without making it “a thing”? Hand one of these to a student who needs a reminder to focus and you’ll be in the clear. Just be sure to explain the why and how of this activity before you hand out your first one! Here are free printables from Rock and Teach, or make a more discrete design yourself on PowerPoint, Google Slides, or with just paper and a Sharpie.
50. Establish classroom community in the first days of school with heart maps
When teaching fourth grade, you can show your students how to express what matters most to them by illustrating and writing in these heart maps. Download a free template from Fourth Grade Lemonade.
51. Affirm your students 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%!
52. Teach executive functioning
Fourth graders are at the start of learning to do things independently, like really independently. Support students’ executive functioning skills, those skills that will help them manage classwork and organization throughout their lives, starting now. Check out the executive functioning skills that kids should learn in elementary school and how to teach executive functioning. Also, learn what it feels like to struggle with executive functioning in fourth grade.
53. Accept job applications
Try this classroom job board idea from Teach Create Motivate. Roll out classroom jobs, or add new ones by posting a job board and having students apply for jobs. Students will get important practice in writing skills and managing the feelings around getting or not getting the job they want.
54. 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.
55. Build positive relationships with parents
Here are 10 tips to make working with parents the easiest part of your job.