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What would *you* design as the MOST rigorous curriculum for 4th grade?


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My oldest is in 3rd grade this year. I'm a less is more/LCC type. Here is what I have planned:


Math Mammoth 4, XtraMath

Rod & Staff English 4

Memoria Press Famous Men of Rome

Kolbe's Literature Guide


Combined with Family:

Latina Christiana I

Spell to Write and Read

History- read alouds


Memory work, Bible, piano, gymnastics

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I assume you mean using only materials that are designated for fourth grade? Otherwise, you could go crazy with acceleration.


Anyway, I'll take a shot at it:


Mosdos Ruby level with additional longer works or K12 Literature 4


MCT Town combined with FLL4

Singapore Math level 4 with CWP

SOTW 4 with activity guide

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Chemistry


Now, if you wanted to move into middle school materials, the possibilities expand quite a bit. For example:


K12 Literature 6


MCT Town combined with Hake Grammar 5+

Singapore Math level 4+

SOTW 4 with activity guide or A History of US (concise edition) or begin the Human Odyssey series from K12

CPO science (earth or life) or R.E.A.L Science Odyssey level 2

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I agree that it's so relative. There are so many elements to consider. As mentioned, there's the individual child. But there's also your educational goals. Someone who has an end goal of a child prepared for a STEM career might have a very different idea of what makes for rigor than someone who thinks that the end goal is a child who can read and think for themselves.

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I left it purposely vague. :)


Let's say for an average student (not gifted, w/ no disabilities, etc.) who is interested in learning and accomplishing more.


And just a well-balanced curric, no major focus area.


hm and EKS-yes, this is along the lines of what I'm looking for, thanks!

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Math Mammoth 4 with SM CWP 4 and BA 4 (if available by then...)

FLL 4, WWE 4, MCT Literature, Vocab from Classical Roots 4, Wheeler's Graded Studies in Great Authors for spelling (http://books.google.com/books/about/Wheeler_s_graded_studies_in_great_author.html?id=sE4XAAAAIAAJ)

SOTW w/ AG & tests + MP States & Capitals

?? for science

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This is what I am currently doing with my 4th grade son:



--Horizons 4


--Will do Singapore Mental Math in summer


English--R&S4 (skipping most of the composition assignments)


Spelling Power


Writing (I alternate between these, using one program for 1-2 weeks to produce a final draft)

--IEW SWI-A (second half of the program)

--WWW4 (I chose the most useful half of the lessons)

--Three research reports (one for each history lapbook)

--Once in a while I do a lesson from WWE3



--Read aloud to me 15 minutes per day from a book I choose which is at a challenging reading level

--Read a different book (one per month) for "book club" as in Deconstructing Penguins

--Audio books in the car

--Reading books before bedtime


(Workbooks to do while the other kids are reading aloud to me:)

HWOT Cursive

Skills Sharpeners Reading 4 (for reading comprehension), or Building Thinking Skills (logic)

Language Smarts D (for grammar review), and then Editor in Chief Beginning 2

Vocabulary Workshop 4


History (5 days per week)

--Fall semester world history overview (CHOW)

--Spring semester American History (The Rainbow Book of American History, then Everything You Need to Know About American Histroy ch 7-end)

--Three history lapbooks


Memory Work

--Awana Bible verses

--Various history, geography, science lists or excerpts


Oral Presentations

--Three times per year presentations of history lapbook and memory work


Each of these once per week:

Art--Meet the Masters, or Mark Kistler's online drawing lessons

Science--BFSU including notebooking after each lesson, plus two science lapbooks

Geography--The Complete Book of Maps and Geography, plus drawing maps as in The Core

Civics/Govt/Basic Econ/State history--including two civics lapbooks

Music--listen to www.classicsforkids.com, and piano lessons


10-15 minutes per day of either typing practice or audio German lessons

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Singapore, MEP, or possibly Art of Problem Solving Pre-Algebra for a child who is really "mathy"

MCT "Town" level plus WWE4 and Killgallon Story Grammar

Hexco spelling bee prep materials

Ellen McHenry's chem programs

Catholic Schools Textbook Project From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America

Latin, but I don't have any personal recommendations for that.

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Most people think of rigorous as placing expectations upon a child that are beyond the average developmental stages. You can just skip a grade or two, or you can use a curriculum designed for schools that cherry pick their students, and accelerate skills and content without giving the child the benefit of an accelerated label.


If I want to challenge a child who is developmentally advanced, I tend to radically accelerate math and teach them Greek and Latin, and then because they are crispy burnt out, I unschool the rest of the subjects as much as possible.


If the child is developmentally average, I guess I don't believe in rigor. If rigor means just increasing VOLUME of work, I don't believe in large volumes of academic work. I'd rather spend that time on religious/character training and chores. Mind, body and spirit need equal training and nurturing.

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I wouldn't define rigor as merely increasing volume of academic work or even as accelerating. The process I use to try to make my curriculum rigorous is as follows.


First, I plan my most important subjects. For elemenatary grades, they are reading, composition, English/grammar, spelling, and math. I design a curriculum that will challenge each child and push him to his potential. That may end up being accelerated or on grade level. The amount of work required is not increased merely for the purpose of increasing the amount of work. The amount of work required is a reasonable amount based on the age and abilities of the child which will help the child gain his full potential.


Then if the child is doing well in the core subjects above, I add on others. I start with the Core Knowledge K-8 Sequence to help me decide on a fund of knowledge which I want my kids to learn. Important subjects at these ages are science and history (world, American, state). Then geography, art, and music. Other important subjects one can add are civics, government, basic economics, oral presentations, vocabulary, and foreign language. I am not including Bible, character training, or sports/PE in this list as I consider those separately.


Most of the rigor regarding education of younger students has to do with the parents (IMO). Kids will generally do what the parent requires of them.

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Literature Analysis

Evan-Moor Poetry Guide (4th grade)

Progeny Press guides (several)


Guided Reading

K-12 Readers, Volumes 6 & 7

McGuffey's 5th or 6th Eclectic Reader



All About Spelling, Level 5 or 6



Vocabu-Lit, Level F



First Language Lessons, Level 4


Memory Work

4th Grade Poetry Pack (choose several poems to memorize & recite at the end of the year)

4th Grade Fact Pack (choose several lists/dates/facts to memorize & recite at the end of the year; Living Memory has plenty to choose from. Edited to add: There's an e-book that's less expensive)



Writing with Ease 4

Creative Writing binder -- for student's own compositions, stories, and poems



Recitation of poetry memory work (without fidgeting, twirling hair, picking noses, etc.)

Recitation (or Question/Answer format) for factual memory work and/or catechism

Presentation of a practiced speech on (1) a History topic, (2) a Science topic, (3) a Bible topic, (4) a Literature topic, and (5) an explanation of some aspect of the student's current hobby.



First Start French or something grammar-based



Not certain what to recommend for this, but I would work on Latin grammar and vocabulary in 4th grade



Weekly, private instrumental music lessons (which include basic music theory and note reading)

Daily instrumental music practice

Possibly -- participation in a musical group, such as a choir, orchestra, or handbell choir



Horizons 4 ?? -- but don't ask me about Math!


Bible & Discipleship

Establish the habit of daily Bible reading & prayer

What the Bible Is All About for Young Explorers -- work through the OT chapters with the student, have student write book outlines or take notes in a notebook


Literature & Poetry

Develop a reasonable list of read alouds for the year

Include regular reading of poetry

Develop a reasonable list of assigned reading for the year

Develop a large selection of audiobooks for listening


History & Geography

Study a period of history, including the pertinent geography

Work on outlining & summarizing skills

Work on research skills (utilizing more than two resources)



Study one area in-depth all year (e.g., Birds, Insects, or Human Body)

Line up a selection of science books on or above the student's reading level; assign weekly Science Reading time (student chooses books)

Work on outlining & summarizing skills

Work on research skills (utilizing more than two resources)


Nature Study

Regular hikes in the outdoors, increasing in length, variety, and complexity as the year progresses

Learn to pack/prepare for a hike (locate nature preserves, get directions/hours, plan for trip/route, serve as guide for hike)

Begin and maintain a nature journal

Begin and maintain a nature collection

Learn to use field guides, binoculars, and other field equipment

Attend lectures/classes at a local nature preserve, arboretum, state park, or natural history museum


Physical Fitness

Develop the habit of daily exercise

Develop the habit of drinking water and choosing reasonable portions of nutritious food

Develop the habit of sufficient rest and sleep



Allow time, space, materials, and encouragement for explorations into several hobbies

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Mmm, yes. The dehydration thing. What I--and many Americans--gets used to as "normal" is actually impaired. My ability to concentrate is SO much greater when I'm properly hydrated.


"Rigorous" curricula should come with a warning, "Administer a large glass of water 30 minutes before each lesson."

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