Fourth Grade Social Studies Concepts and Lesson Plans

Although standards vary by state, below are general topics that most fourth graders learn in social studies. Use the following lesson plan ideas to engage and interest your students in geography, government, history and economics.

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Teaching Social Studies in Fourth Grade


In many cases, the study of geography is specific to your state, which means students learn about the unique regions in the area, such as landmarks, cities and bodies of water. You may even discuss how the features of your region affect the way people live. For instance, is the land naturally dry or fertile?

To teach this concept in class, give each student graphing paper. Establish that the vertical lines represent lines of longitude, and the horizontal lines represent lines of latitude. Then, ask students to recreate their town. Each grid can represent a mile. Tell them to include personal landmarks, like the school or their home, as well as public landmarks, such as mountain ranges or lakes. After they are done, display a map of the town and ask students to compare their map to the 'real' map.


Help students learn about the different branches of government by creating a mock government in your class. Hold a class election for the president, and break students into groups for the legislative, judicial and executive branches. Then, guide students through the process of passing, reviewing and enforcing classroom laws using this system.


In many cases, students learn about the history specific to their state. To capture students' interest, highlight local heroes or famous people who come from the state. You may also arrange a field trip to local historical landmarks. Similarly, you might compare and contrast the lifestyles of past state residents to those of current residents.


In fourth grade, students recognize that there are natural, human and capital resources, and that these resources are limited. They also study the tax system. Help kids discover how resources are traded by replicating the experience in your classroom.

Have each student choose a state to represent. Students should research the resources available in that state, as well as the resources it lacks. Then, have students trade the resources amongst themselves. Afterward, have them reflect on the process. What resources were needed the most? What was the most difficult aspect about the trading process?

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