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A Checklist of 4th Grade Skills

written by: Bright Hub Education Writer • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 11/29/2012

Do you have a child moving up to 4th grade? Or are you are a teacher who will be teaching this grade level for the first time? The following article has a run down of the most commonly taught 4th grade skills, and reveals just what is necessary for a student to be successful at this level.

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    State Standards

    As you are reading through this checklist of skills for fourth graders, remember that standards and benchmarks can, and do, vary from state to state. So, while most of these skills will be relevant for most students in most states, they will not necessarily be 100% accurate for all students in all states. So, think of these checklists as more of an overview of the skills that are needed to be successful in 4th grade, and to be able to perform at, or slightly above, grade average in Math, Language Arts, Science and Social Studies.

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    Here is a summary of the 4th grade skills that are necessary to do well in Math:

    Numbers and Operations


    • Add and subtract like and unlike denominators
    • Simplify fractions
    • Find simple fractions of numbers
    • Find equivalent fractions
    • Order fractions according to size

    Data Handling:

    • Read and interpret a variety of charts and tables,
    • Know how to calculate mean, mode and range,
    • Be able to create bar charts, line graphs and pictographs
    • Calculate simple probability outcomes, (e.g. likely, less likely, impossible, etc).


    • Be able to recognize common 2D and 3D shapes
    • Find the area and perimeter of regular shapes
    • Know and be able to calculate the radius, diameter and circumference of circles
    • Identify acute, right and obtuse angles


    • Know standard and metric measurements for capacity, weight, volume, and length,
    • Be able to tell and add/subtract time,
    • Convert measurements (e.g. hours to minutes, gallons to pints, etc)

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    Language Arts

    With a mastery of these skills, 4th grade students will be proficient in Language Arts.



    • Be able to punctuate sentences, (including dialog), correctly
    • Use tenses appropriately
    • Identify pronouns, articles, nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and be able to use them correctly.
    • Be familiar with contractions, possessives, and the use of apostrophes and commas.
    • Be able to identify sentence types - declarative, interrogative, command, exclamation


    • Write in a variety of non fiction writing formats - persuasive, instructional, informational, letters, etc.
    • Be able to draft, redraft and publish a piece of writing
    • Write sequentially with main events/points in a logical order
    • Develop good self-check methods in order to proof read their own work
    • Be able to write in paragraphs.
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    Social Studies

    In Social Studies, 4th graders cover a wide variety of topics. Here is a rundown of the most commonly taught 4th grade skills.


    • Be aware of geographical features associated with the five regions of the US.
    • Recognize the importance of the US fight for independence.
    • Locate states on a map of the US, and learn the names of some state capitals.
    • Know the definition of common landforms and geographic features, (e.g. tributaries, plateaus, islands, valleys, etc).
    • Be able to name and locate the seven continents, and know the names of the oceans
    • Know the importance of natural resources and the need to conserve them.


    • Understand how the 13 original colonies were formed, and the origins of the United States as a country.
    • Be able to explain the role of documents such as the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
    • Understand the reasons for, and results of, the American Civil War.

    Government and Economy

    • Know the names and functions of the branches of government.
    • Understand the structure of government at a local, state and national level.
    • Understand profit/loss and the basic ways in which an economy operates with buying and selling.

    Local Study

    • Be aware of the specific geography and history associated with your own state.

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    In Science, essential 4th grade skills are usually topic based units. What follows are some of the more common topics and the skills that are associated with them.

    Simple Machines

    • Be able to identify the six simple machines
    • Know how they are used in common mechanical objects, (e.g. teeter totter, scissors, spiral staircase, etc)
    • Understand effort and resulting forces.

    The Soil System

    • Understand how soil is made
    • Learn the role of weathering and erosion
    • Know that different types of soil are good for different plants
    • how farmers conserve and enrich soil.

    Rocks and Minerals


    • Recognize a variety of different world ecosystems
    • Know what animals are found in a given ecosystem
    • Understand what a habitat is
    • Be aware of endangered ecosystems like rainforests.

    Earthquakes and Volcanoes

    • Know the layers of planet Earth
    • Understand how earthquakes and volcanoes occur
    • Recognize the dangers of these natural occurrences
    • Label the parts of a volcano
    • Understand how scientists measure and predict volcanoes and earthquakes.

    Electricity and Magnetism

    • Know what a conductor and insulator is
    • Understand the differences between simple, parallel and series circuits
    • Know the relationship between electricity and magnetism
    • Learn that magnets have poles, and that they are the strongest part of a magnet
    • Understand that the Earth is a giant magnet
    • Know ways to control an electromagnet


    • Understand that sound travels in all directions as waves
    • Know that sound moves through solid objects
    • Be aware of sonic booms and vehicles that travel faster than sound
    • Know that sound is a series of vibrations
    • Sounds can be loud, soft, high or low

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    The 4th grade skills listed above are a good measure of what students can expect to encounter in a 4th grade classroom. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, but it should definitely give you a good idea of the kind of topics that are covered in the core subjects at this grade level.