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4th Grade Math
by Gail Englert

A response to the question:

Could you please give me ideas as to what my fourth grade daughter should be learning in math?

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I am trying to tutor my fourth grader. I am a bit lost though on what I should teach her. I am planning more of a summer relaxed atmosphere for her to learn in, rather than a school setting. She's going to fourth grade in September, and I want to give her a jump start in math. Could you please give me ideas as to what she should be learning?

Thank you



Dear Jeannette,

You don't say if your daughter is struggling with math or comfortable, so I am going to give you a middle of the road answer. My fourth graders who were most successful each year with math usually had a strong understanding of place value. They could compare numbers of 4 - 6 digits and explain which was the largest or smallest.

They could "build" numbers following criteria, using a specific set of digits, for example, using 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 to build the largest even number, or the smallest odd number, or a number with a 4 in the tens place (which has many different answers). They were also able to find sums and differences (add and subtract) numbers easily and correctly. Some fourth grade teachers expect their students to have the multiplication facts memorized.

One thing fourth graders struggle with is fractions. One way you can help your daughter prepare for this topic is to have her make fraction strips. You could also buy these materials, but if a child makes them, that is part of the learning. Cut a set of strips that are all the same size. (Using lined paper and cutting them so that the lines are running vertically through the strips (up and down) is a good idea... if you make each strip 24 lines long, that will make some of the folding easier, too.

Now, have your daughter label the first strip "one whole." It will be worth one. Take another strip, fold it into two equal pieces, and label each one "one half" (you can also use the fraction 1/2, to help your daughter link the word and the symbol). Take another strip, and fold it into four equal pieces (to be labeled fourths). (There is more than one way to do these folds. To make it easier to compare them later, making the folds vertically, so the segments are all in line, is best. It is a good idea to let your daughter see how many different ways she can make these folds to create "equal" pieces, though.

Continue to make all the fraction pieces from halves to twelfths. Some will be more difficult to make than others. Working through the activity will help your daughter see the relationships between the fractions though. Resist the temptation to do it for her so they look neat.

When you are done, you can use these strips to compare fractions to see how many of one strip make the same sized piece as another strip. You can also compare to see which pieces are larger, or smaller than other pieces, for example, 12 is smaller than 5/8 and 8/12.

As for 5th grade math, which I will be teaching next year..., you might move into decimals, or perhaps explore measurement, like volume and capacity. Make the activities fun ones, let her discover how many cups there are in a gallon, in a quart, etc. Let her measure the length of items in your house or yard to see which things are certain lengths in cm meters, inches, feet, etc.

If she is strong in place value and fractions, then let her explore without worrying about preparing her for next year. Have you tried any software that has algebraic problems on it. The Logical Voyage of the Zoombinis (Broderbund) is a wonderful game, with puzzles that will help your daughter practice logical thinking...and you will enjoy them too.

Hope this gives you something to have fun with when the sun is too strong to be outside.

-Gail, for the T2T service

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