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Ideas for teaching 4th grade like letting students create their own plans and trying an alternative sign out sheet

50 Tips, Tricks, and Ideas

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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 kids? Here’s an excerpt from the book Responsive Classroom: “What Every Fourth 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

Collage of 7 books for teaching 4th Grade

Teaching fourth grade involves a lot of reading! Here is a big list of our favorites.

4. Create interactive bulletin boards

Brit-Jeltema-standing-in-front-of-her-interactive-bulletin-board when teaching 4th grade

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 ideas.

7. Make “Big Plans”

Students written plans on sticky notes displayed on a wall, as an idea for teaching 4th grade.

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”!

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

Free kindness posters illustrated hand throwing confetti, as an idea for teaching 4th grade.

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 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. 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.

14. Keep your students linked into the big picture of the lesson

Anchor chart that shows how teachers use lesson plans when teaching 4th grade.

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. 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 Zikes for ideas!” —Dianne K.
  • “Interactive notebooks!” —Shanna J.

16. Use the walls for anchor charts instead of premade posters

4th grade anchor charts

You can check out our  top fourth grade anchor charts  for inspiration here.

17. 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

18. Incorporate daily writing prompts

Four printed index cards for fourth grade.

We’ve gathered 50 fourth grade writing prompts that you can download and use to have your students practice their writing skills.

19. Use paint chips to inspire sensory poetry

Red paint chip with poetry examples.

Let color work its inspiration for your fourth grade poets. Check out other educational uses for paint chips here!

20. Teach apostrophe usage with a strong visual

Shows teachers and students how to use apostrophes!

We like this one from Write On, Fourth Grade!

21. Teach the difference between tone and mood with a helpful anchor chart

An anchor chart that showcases mood vs. tone.

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 anchor chart.

22. Teach how to use context clues to bridge into larger close-reading skills

Anchor chart for teachers about context clues

We love this context clues anchor chart.

23. 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.

24. Try a vocabulary activity … or 15

Use RAFTs, try vocabulary Jeopardy, and more with these vocabulary activities.

Ideas for Math

25. 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.

26. Reinforce math skills with fun games

Check out all of these fantastic free math card games for fourth graders.

27. Learn about area and perimeter with robots

Example of using robots for students to calculate perimeter.

How fun are these ’bots? Students apply their understanding of area and perimeter by creating different robots based on mathematical specifications provided to them.

28. 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.

29. Teach the dreaded word problem

Word Problems WeAreTeachers

Use these word problem activities and strategies.

Ideas for Science

30. 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.

31. Try daily STEM challenges

Four printout note cards for 4th Grade 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.

32. 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.

33. Teach electricity

It’s electrifyingly good fun! Shock them with these science experiments!

34. Explore animal habitats

Animal Habitat activities

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

35. 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.

36.  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.

37. Remind students that “all means all”

Learn about ALL people by including LGBTQ+ inclusive picture & middle grade books to your social studies lessons.

38. Learn about heroes

Read biographies about famous people in history. Match books to holidays, like Presidents’ Day or Black History Month.

39. Use online learning

There are some amazing websites out there for teaching social studies lessons. Check out this big list of our favorites.

40. Take a field trip

Fourth grade field trips

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

41. 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.

42. 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

43. Quietly redirect

Teachers use these STOP sign shape tags to STOP certain behavior.

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.

44. Establish classroom community in the first days of school with heart maps

Blank heart map for teachers and students.

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.

45. Affirm your students daily

Teacher uses a sticky note to send daily affirmation to students.

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!

46. Teach students the art of note-taking

Anchor chart featuring best ways to take notes.

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.

47. Remember that even big kids need to move

Collage of screenshots of videos for Fourth Grade Brain Breaks

Even grown-ups can’t sit still and listen all day! Get your kids up and moving with awesome fourth grade brain breaks .

48. Keep track of where your fourth graders are without the aggravating sign-in/sign-out sheets

Students Use Magnets for Location

This genius idea from Teaching Excellence Program uses little magnets to make managing your class easy. Add in any typical places your kids may go on a given day. If you want to make it more personal (and have the time), you could also do this with photos of the kids.

Other Ideas

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 fourth grade? Come share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out our classroom guide for teaching fourth grade.