Grade 4


 Light and Shadow: Exploring Our Celestial Neighborhood Scope and Sequence


In this unit, fourth graders learn about the Sun, the Solar System, and the properties of light. Fourth graders, already intrigued by outer space, are ready to pursue this fascinating topic through the use of scientific models.  Models are the way scientists make sense of the world.  They help to create and confirm theories about the universe and students will use models to demonstrate their understanding of their “Celestial Neighborhood”.

Key activities include:

 • Using a flashlight to explore whether objects such as paper, wood, cardboard and fabric are transparent, translucent or opaque.
 • Exploring the history of astronomy through reading a biography of an astronomer.
• Using a safe laser and baby powder to confirm that light travels in a straight line. With a mirror and protractor, students then can explore the angles at which light reflects.


By the end of the unit students will be able to:

 • Classify materials as transparent, translucent or opaque.
• Use convex and concave lenses to make a telescope.
• Correctly identify facts about the solar system including: the sun is a light source, the Earth revolves around the Sun, name the eight planets in order, and explain the difference between rotate and revolve.
• Correctly use astronomy vocabulary including words such as: Concave and convex lens, prism, and refract.



Changing Earth Scope and Sequence

Our ever-changing Earth fascinates elementary students. This unit builds on learning experiences from grades 2 and 3 by introducing fourth graders to the many ways our planet shifts and changes. From the violent impact that volcanoes, landslides and earthquakes have on the Earth to the slow effects of weathering; this unit will draw fourth graders into the dynamic and engaging subject of geology.

 Key activities include:

 • Creating a model of a glacier using sand, leaves and ice and watching how it erodes soil at a steep angle versus a gentle angle.
• Comparing how a glacier affects soils to how water from a spray bottle erodes soil.

Engineering connection

Fourth grade classes extend this unit with an engineering activity.Options include:

1. Building models of bridges they explore how strong soil must be to support their bridge.

2. Attempting to construct a foundation strong enough to withstand erosion.

By the end of the unit students will be able to:

• Recognize and name the layers of the Earth. 
• Explain the difference between erosion and chemical weathering.
• Identify processes that change the Earth rapidly.
• Correctly use vocabulary including words such as: inner core, outer core, cementation and magnetosphere. 

Insects  Unit Overview

  Insects are everywhere in vast numbers and amazing variety. They are both utterly alien and disturbingly similar to humans. In this unit, students will learn about the physical, social and behavioral characteristics of insects and explore their connection to the human world including their relationship to farming, pollination and our food chain.

 Key activities include:

• Observing insects such as praying mantises, butterflies, moths and lady bugs in class
• Creating a model of a new, imaginary insect, complete with the correct parts, habitat, ecosystem, food, predators and a name. (this activity optional)

By the end of the unit students will be able to:

• Identify the characteristics of insect bodies.
• Identify and label the stages of an insect life cycle.
• Compare and contrast insect life cycles, habitats, and adaptations.
• Sketch an insect’s growth and development.


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