Fourth Grade

Fourth grade students push new limits as they begin to deepen their skills in all subjects. While students still engage in play and thrive in nurturing environments, they also begin to learn a more sophisticated structure in preparation for middle school. Fourth grade lessons push students to analyze, think critically, and exhibit competence as self-starters.

This webpage provides an overview of what your child will learn by the end of fourth grade, as directed by the Iowa Core, our statewide academic standards. The Iowa Core standards focus on key concepts in mathematics, literacy, science, social studies, and 21st Century skills.


Your child will develop efficient and accurate methods by which to multiply and divide whole numbers. He or she also will build knowledge and skills with fractions to prepare for mastering this topic in fifth and sixth grades and to ensure he or she is ready for algebra and advanced math.

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

  • Use whole-number computation to solve word problems that include problems with remainders and measurements.

  • Add and subtract whole numbers efficiently (numbers up to 1 million).

  • Multiply and divide multi-digit numbers (e.g., multiply 1,638 × 7, or 24 × 17, and divide 6,966 by 6).

  • Understand and apply equivalent fractions (e.g., recognize that ¼ is less than 3⁄8 because 2⁄8 is less than 3⁄8).

  • Add, subtract and multiply fractions (e.g., 2 ¾ − 1 ¼, or 3 × 5⁄8) and solve related word problems.

  • Measure angles and find unknown angles in a diagram.

Math Resources for Parents

English Language Arts & Literacy

Your child will build the stamina and skills that will allow him or her to read challenging fiction, nonfiction, and other materials. He or she will continue to learn about the world and build vocabulary skills by reading more complicated stories and poems from different cultures, along with a range of books about history, science, art, and music. Students also will make important strides in their ability to plainly explain in detail what a book says — both explicitly and what is implied from its details. Your child will write effective summaries, book reports and descriptions of characters or events that use correct grammar and punctuation.

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

  • Compare ideas, characters, events and settings in stories and myths from different cultures.

  • Write summaries or opinions about topics that are supported with a set of well-organized facts, details and examples.

  • Independently conduct short research projects about different aspects of a topic using evidence from books and the Internet.

  • Paraphrase and respond to information presented in discussions, such as comparing and contrasting ideas and analyzing evidence that speakers use to support particular points.

  • Write complete sentences with correct capitalization and spelling.

  • Relate words that are common in reading to words with similar meanings (synonyms) and to their opposites (antonyms).


Students in fourth grade will use quantitative and qualitative data to formulate arguments about evidence, develop models, analyze and interpret data from maps, and construct explanations related to the transfer of matter and energy on earth, in physical interactions, and in organisms. Students will engage in learning activities, and investigations designed to formulate answers to questions such as “What are waves, and what are some things they can do? What is energy, and how is it related to motion?”

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

  • Describe how the internal and external structures of different plants and animals' function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.

  • Plan and conduct investigations to explore how light and sight are related.

  • Design a device that uses an electrical current to produce motion, sound, light, or heat.

  • Explore wave properties and discover how waves can cause objects to move.

  • Use patterns of rock formations and fossils to construct an explanation of how environments change over time.

  • Make observations or take measurements to determine the effects of weathering and erosion on shaping the land.

Social Studies

In fourth grade, students focus on how society has changed and stayed the same over time. Students see how change is inevitable and the patterns and consequences of change across different historical eras.

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

  • Identify challenges and opportunities when taking action to address civic problems, including predicting results.

  • Explain why the prices of goods and services rise and fall.

  • Describe how environmental and cultural characteristics influence where people live.

  • Analyze the impact of technological changes in Iowa over time.

  • Describe how societies have changed in the past and continue to change.

  • Analyze conflicting perspectives on historical and current events/issues.

21st Century Skills

Your child will continue to practice fitness skills and begin to understand the long-term benefits of being physically active. Students will learn to accept constructive criticism, strive to complete high-quality work, and collaborate with classmates. They will explore concepts related to good financial decision-making and responsible citizenship.

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

  • Use technology (e.g., pedometers, Wii physical activity games) to improve fitness and have fun.

  • Identify opportunities for leadership and service in the classroom, school, state, and nation.

  • Apply prior knowledge of technology to learning how to use new technologies/software.

  • Identify and organize materials needed for a task.

  • Explain the difference between short-term and long-term financial goals and why it is important to have both.

Source: Iowa Core Parent Guides from the Iowa Department of Education.
Read the Iowa Core Parent Guide (English) and Iowa Core Parent Guide (Spanish).
Read the complete standards on the Iowa Core website.