Most fourth grade social studies topics focus on the student's home state. They also learn the foundations of government in the local, state and national level as it pertains to rules and laws.
Fourth grade social studies topics also include early U.S. history and the geography of the United States, including the country's five regions including the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, Midwest and West. For each region, students are taught to understand physical characteristics, such as canyons, cliffs, deserts, mountains and lakes. The history of each region is discussed as well, including customs, food, arts and contributions to American culture in general. In addition to American geography, fourth graders are introduced to maps and learn how to use the legend, scale, compass rose and key.
Fourth grade students typically focus on their own state, including the capital city, the state's history and symbols such as the state flag, animal, flower and bird. Students learn the names of political leaders in their city, county and state and their function in government. If the state has Native American history, the student is taught about the tribes and people.
Fourth grade social studies classes often cover current events both in America and abroad. Students are introduced to news programs, newspapers, magazines and the Internet as tools for discussing how events affect the world or are parallel to past events. These studies raise awareness of the world while increasing a child's ability to think critically.