Preparing Boys for Life

Fourth Grade

fourth grade boys reading in library

Fourth-graders participate in a "book tasting," reading and reflecting on books from various genres.

Curriculum overview

Fourth grade teachers construct lessons that encourage boys to develop independence and take ownership in their learning. Each boy becomes more proficient as a reader, writer, mathematician, and researcher. Hands-on activities, inquiry-style lessons, design thinking, and differentiated instruction allow our teachers to maximize the learning of each boy.

It is also during this time that boys begin to experience biological changes preluding adolescence; our teachers help guide both boys and their parents in learning what to expect and how to best support their son.

fourth graders building a paper roller coaster

In this design thinking project, students use their background knowledge from science class to inform decisions on how to make the most exciting and structurally-sound roller coaster. 

Areas of study


The fourth graders develop independence in reading on a deeper level by learning how to infer, evaluate information, compare and contrast, and more. Fourth graders read a wide variety of books throughout the year in whole and small group settings. Many of the books and topics discussed are tied to the Social Studies units of study each trimester. Fourth graders also work diligently on constructing meaningful responses to their reading in both writing and discussion with peers. 

In writing, students benefit from the highly differentiated Writer's Workshop curriculum. Students are encouraged to move at their own pace as they practice writing for a specific audience - bringing a story to life in narrative writing, adopting a formal teaching tone in Informational writing, and posing a convincing argument in persuasive/opinion writing. Students also practice grammar skills and language conventions, including word parts and etymology.   


Haverford utilizes the Everyday Math curriculum, a spiraling system that allows teachers to cover math facts, operations, fractions, and decimals, geometry, and problem solving, while deepening student understanding. Differentiated instruction allows us to offer ability-appropriate challenges and enrichment. We emphasize the process of solving problems, working cooperatively, and thinking mathematically.

Social Studies

Within units of study that include Pennsylvania state history, the U.S. in the 1800s/westward expansion, and ancient Greece, students deepen their background knowledge. Students build skills in conducting research, evaluating sources for credibility, and understanding that there are many perspectives of history. Hands-on projects allow students to actively engage with and apply their understanding of historical concepts, as well as develop abilities to ask questions and investigate answers. 


Science offers active, experiential, and collaborative learning engagement. Boys employ a hands-on, minds-on approach to learning the scientific method. Areas of study include:

  • Technology and Design: Engineering and Robotics
  • Life Science: Animal Behavior and Anatomical Structures
  • Earth Science: Rocks and Minerals, Earth’s Movement and Astronomy
  • Physical Science: Phases of Matter, Acids/Bases, Forensic Chemistry, Electricity and Magnetism



Fourth grade boys have advanced capability to manipulate materials, enabling them to create a variety of inspiring work. Their artistic endeavors incorporate both three-dimensional and two-dimensional creations. Boys are challenged to cultivate their verbal skills and artistic awareness as they speak about their own work and discuss the work of others. They refine their mastery of pencil, graphite, painting, ink, and ceramic mediums.



Haverford uses the Kódaly approach to teach boys to read increasingly more intricate melodic and rhythmic notation through a rich variety of authentic folk music from America and around the world. Boys continue their study of reading music and performing in the Treble Choir. In fourth grade, boys may elect to receive a year of study on a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument. Ensemble opportunities include Treble Choir, Fantastic Fords, String Ensemble, and Chime Choir.

Learn more about our music program >

Physical Education

Our Athletic Department and sports programs not only promote athleticism, but also camaraderie, sportsmanship, fair play, and good competition. The major areas of focus in the fourth grade program include:

  • cardiovascular endurance
  • muscular strength, endurance & flexibility
  • foot-eye and hand-eye coordination
  • swimming and pool safety
  • cooperative games implementing physical skills

All activities in our curriculum are designed to foster the skills necessary for our boys to be successful in their athletic interests, develop character through sportsmanship and cooperation, and promote participation and enthusiasm.


Favorite characters come to life in the Lower School library, where our boys develop a love of reading. While reading and responding to stories, the boys practice a number of important skills, including how to:

  • Locate and select a variety of materials for reading pleasure
  • Use the library’s resources to satisfy classroom assignments and personal inquiries
  • Research topics with understanding of strong sources
  • Use information technology responsibly

Character & Citizenship

In the beginning of each school year, fourth graders work collaboratively on a design thinking project to imagine the ideal classroom, from the set-up of the classroom library to the guidelines of respect they will follow throughout the year. Each homeroom agrees on a set of rules that align with the Lower School Foundations, which sets the groundwork for a respectful, cooperative learning environment for the year ahead. 

I read an article that said instead of asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, we should ask them what problems they want to solve. This is exactly the type of process that Haverford uses in its design thinking program. Design thinking uses a hands-on approach to solve real-world problems with imagination, creativity, and collaboration. These are all skills that will help take Jack and his classmates to the next level of learning as they continue at The Haverford School. Marla, parent