Fourth Grade Curriculum
The Judaic Studies program at The Hebrew Academy fosters excitement, love and security in the child’s identity as a Jew. It provides for the required skills, understanding and knowledge of how and why to live as a productive Jewish citizen in our society.
In order to strive towards these objectives, the curriculum is designed with specifications tailored and individualized for The Hebrew Academy students. The detailed comprehensive curriculum is revised and updated each year to meet current needs, the advancement and growth of individual classes, and the unique strengths of its teachers.
The following represents a summary outline of the Judaic Studies curricula for grade 4.
Chumash in Grade 4 covers the stories of Joseph and his brothers in Parshas VaYeishev, and their sojourns to Egypt in Mikeitz and VaYigash, with the ultimate restablishmnet of Yaakov and his family in Egypt in VaYechi. Students in fourth grade are aware of the stories from Parsha review in previous years. Emphasis will be placed on comprehension, translation and insights. Students will learn to read and understand passages on their own with occasional help from their teacher.
Rashi commentary is studied more intensely in fourth grade. Students were exposed to Rashi script in third grade. This year they will study Rashi passages, read them from the text and translate. They will discover the Rashi style in questioning and answering. A greater appreciation and understanding of the Chumash will be achieved through the study of Rashi.
The focus in studying Chumash will be on the values taught by the Torah, knowledge of the P’sukim (biblical passages) and Rashi’s commentary in their original Hebrew, the events and practices that make us a “Jewish People”, and our ties to the land of our forefathers.
Hebrew Language Arts in the fourth grade builds on the foundations previously set. The informal methods of learning a language such as “immersion:” or Ulpan will be continued. Students will be encouraged to speak in Hebrew in the classroom.
Formal language instruction will be increased. Grammar, sentence structure and correct usage will be reinforced through charts and analyses, and practiced through a multitude of workbook exercises and teacher prepared materials selected and designed for the particular class. Reading fluency and comprehension, writing and composition, vocabulary, and spelling will be further emphasized and advanced.
Hebrew language will be studied with an emphasis on comprehension (oral and written) and conversation. Students will read and understand simple stories from the HaMikra-ah Sheli text (Yonai). Grammar and usage will be taught and reinforced through the Yesodot HaLashon text (Yonai). Teacher selected and created materials will supplement these texts. Oral and written practice will take place in class and through homework assignments, thus ensuring that students internalize the grammatical principles and vocabulary they have been taught. Hebrew will be taught as a modern, living language with connections made to the biblical Hebrew of our Chumash study.
As previously learned traditions and practices will be reviewed in fourth grade, some will be studied in greater depth and new ideas, customs and concepts will be introduced. Knowledge of the holidays and routine Jewish customs and traditions will be reinforced. In addition, students will learn that sacred to the Jewish faith are its values, such as caring for and helping one another, sensitivity towards others, respect for parents and elders, and the importance of sharing our blessings with those in need.
Fourth graders will reinforce their recognition of Jewish objects in the synagogue and home. They will gain a greater understanding of how and why many of them are used.
For each holiday, students will learn why we celebrate the holiday and how we celebrate the holiday. The prayers associated with each holiday will be practiced in class and recited during Tefilla period. The story, important personalities and foods associated with each holiday will be reviewed and discussed in class. Students will gain an appreciation for our holidays and an understanding of the Jewish calendar and the cycle of the Jewish year.
Jewish Social Studies:
In fourth grade, learning about the Jewish People is designed to stimulate the children to want to know more about their identity as Jews. In addition to the foundations of our people as related in the Chumash, fourth graders will be introduced to selected major Jewish heroes from Joshua through the present day. These will be taught in the form of stories as well as teacher-prepared materials.
The weekly Torah Portion will be continued each week and the students will participate in the school-wide Parsha program. Students will be responsible for a list of questions for which they will be tested the Monday following the reading of the Parsha. Through this program students will develop a foundation of knowledge of each Parsha. The goal of our Parshat Hashavua program is for our students to be able to answer more than 1,000 questions on facts in the Torah by the time they graduate from The Hebrew Academy.
Students are given the questions on Monday. They do some research at home and review in class. The questions and answers are posted on our website. On Thursday or Friday, students receive the official answer sheets. Many families review the Parsha questions and answers as a family activity at the Shabbat dinner table (highly recommended). Students are quizzed on the Parsha every Monday. If they answer 9 of the eleven questions, they are placed on the Parsha Honor Roll. Students must fill in the blanks for the “phrase-by-heart”. When the questions and answers are reviewed in class, teachers and students discuss insights on the Parsha. In addition to the basic knowledge of facts, a good understanding is also important.
Phonetic Reading/ Tefilla/ Biur Tefilla (prayer explanation):
Through participation in daily Tefilla (prayer) our students gain an understanding of and appreciation for the prayers. They recognize that our prayers are directed toward Hashem, that they include expression of gratitude as well as requests. The prayers said during morning Tefilla will be reviewed in class for understanding, both literal translation and deeper meaning. They will learn why and when we say each prayer. Tefilla is an essential part of Jewish observance and is stressed as an important part of everyday life.
By fourth grade, children are aware of and familiar with some formal congregational services. They have learned the chants as they are conducted in the Synagogue. This has been done in order to give the opportunity to our students to lead the services in their own houses of worship. In fourth grade these practices will be continued and expanded in order to reinforce what the children already know and to broaden their knowledge even further.
The students will learn the structure of the Siddur, how the prayers are grouped and how a selection of prayers constitute a particular service; which recitation is central to the service and which may be considered peripheral.
In addition to the “Geography of the Siddur” as described in the preceding paragraph, and the proper chants, emphasis will be placed on translation, such as the regular blessings, the first paragraph of the Shema and a few paragraphs in the Shmoneh Esray. Other prayers will be taught by themes, such as the morning Torah blessings, the Shmoneh Esray as a whole and the Birkat Hamazon. Children will also learn the names and locations of a variety of prayers and when they are recited. An objective in the latter area is to be able to find the place in the Siddur without being told the page number.
Oral reading practice to ensure proper reading fluency will be a regular class activity. As prayers from our Siddur are added to our daily Tefilla, they will be practiced and discussed in the class. Students will gain an appreciation for Tefilla. They will understand that our prayers are directed to Hashem and that in addition to requests; our prayers include recitations and expressions of gratitude.
Fourth graders learn the organizational skills needed to provide success in learning. We expect them to be responsible for completing homework, class work, journal assignments, and book projects, and they are held accountable for the quality of their work. Students continue to expand their knowledge and understanding of spelling, computation, computer use, reading, physical education, and art.
Interpreting maps, reading longer books, writing research reports, and solving math problems requiring them to use previous knowledge, such as multiplication and division facts, can be challenging but also give them a sense of accomplishment. Fourth graders are expected to be critical of their work and differentiate quality from quantity.
Literature at this age deals with complex, sometimes emotional issues. Students are asked to consider fairness and responsibility in more abstract, less quantifiable ways. Social relationships are more complicated at this age, and our students learn a variety of techniques to build positive relationships. Kindness, empathy, honesty, and fairness are some of the character traits that we stress.
In fourth grade, there is increased emphasis on using skills to enhance critical thinking. Our students read a broad range of challenging books. They examine novels by summarizing, contrasting, comparing, and inferring meaning from the text. There will be increased proficiency in spelling, grammar and punctuation, and vocabulary growth. Fourth graders proofread their work and apply spelling rules. They apply possessive forms, make plurals, add prefixes and suffixes, and identify homophones and synonyms.
Our students give critical, yet constructive, feedback about their classmates’ work and accept it in their own work. The students are expected to use cursive writing. They study Aesop’s Fables and write their own fables. They practice other forms of writing including paragraphs, five-paragraph essays, narratives, letters, responses to literature, and skits. Fourth graders use the Internet, encyclopedias, and trade books to do research and contribute to class discussions.
While building on basic computational skills, fourth graders are expected to begin developing more sophisticated problem-solving abilities. They use logical reasoning and solve multi-step problems. The wide range of achievement necessitates utilizing small groups to address individual needs most effectively. Since children at this age are concrete thinkers, many manipulatives are still used in the classroom. This is especially true when introducing work such as fractions, so that students can see and handle actual examples of fourths and thirds before being asked to consider them abstractly.
Fourth graders work with place value to the millions and regroup into the 10,000’s. They divide by one and two-digit divisors, and they understand and can explain basic facts and properties in multiplication and division. They identify and work with equivalent fractions, mixed numbers, common factors and least common multiples, and find decimal and fraction equivalents. The class uses U.S. and metric measures to estimate and measure weight, volume, area and length, time in quarter hour and minute intervals.
Our students read, use, create, and interpret graphs and tables when working with data. They begin algebra, translate story problems to number sentences, and solve them. They identify plane and solid geometric figures and their component parts, work with symmetry, and calculate area, perimeter, and volume.
The emphasis in fourth grade PE is on learning skills and developing strength, coordination and flexibility, and improving overall health and physical fitness. Individual and cooperative skills are highlighted. Work with sportsmanship and doing one’s best is designed to build a positive attitude and enjoyment of PE. Project Adventure challenges are used to reinforce cooperation and teamwork, including trust falls. Fourth graders work on soccer skills such as passing and dribbling. In volleyball they learn and practice serving, the bump, (a way of hitting the ball) rotation and setting. They play lead-up games for basketball, such as jump-shot relays or rebounder-passer-shooter.
Fourth graders learn dance steps to promote basic fitness and aerobic conditioning, and, in general, are encouraged to build physical activity into their lives.
This curriculum is based on a study of New York State. In We use Adventures in Time and Place by McGraw as our primary text and supplement it with many other materials. These include a social studies game board, maps, games naming states and their capitols; songs coordinated with different regions, videos, and Internet sources.
The topics studied are age appropriate and give students a blend of science content, vocabulary, and process skills--all correlated to science guideline requirements and the National Science Education Standards.
The year begins with the study of our planet. Our students learn that Earth is constantly changing, and its materials, such as rocks and soil, have varied properties that make them useful resources. Fourth graders will recognize and appreciate the clues that cause the Earth to change. The study of fossils provides evidence of life in the past and the changes that have happened over time. Students see the relationship of Earth to the solar system: the sun, and the planets and other objects that revolve around it. They learn that except for the sun, these objects have patterns of movement.
Toward the end of the school year, we will discuss the functions and properties of skin, and our students will understand how to keep skin healthy. We study also the importance of nutrition for the body; how growth affects changing dietary needs; and nutrition-related diseases.