Fourth Grade Literature Activities for Kids – Teaching the CCSS

Looking for fourth grade literature activities to address the Common Core State Standards? Check out these CCSS ideas! Kids learn to construct responses, summarize, determine point of view, and more!

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Ms. Sneed Plans Fourth Grade Literature Activities

Our favorite fourth grade teacher and her teaching partner sat at the side table. “Let’s take a look at the fourth grade literature activities we have planned,” she said. “We need to add them to our long-range ELA plans.”

Mr. Frank opened his laptop and pulled up the fourth grade Common Core State Standards for literature.

CCSS RL.4.1 – Answering Questions

“Okay,” he said. “Let’s deconstruct the first standard.”

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

“To me,” Ms. Sneed said, “this means kids need to answer questions in complete paragraphs. Last year, we used differentiated passages from The Wind in the Willows. What do you think?”

“Yes, I’d like to stick with that. However, I believe that we need to make writing paragraphs fun. Therefore, I’d like to use the constructed response cube and burger, as well as ideas for collaboration and contests.”

Ms. Sneed nodded. “Generally, this works well in the middle or end of the first quarter. But I’d like to look at the other standards before we decide on the pacing.”

Mr. Frank pulled out a notepad and a pen. Then he wrote, “RL.4.1 – End of Q1.”

When teaching fourth grade literature, use the hamburger model to answer questions.
Are you feeling “pinspired”? Feel free to pin images from this post.

CCSS RL.4.2 – Summarizing and Finding a Theme

Mr. Frank read the next fourth grade literature standard aloud:

Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

“Without a doubt, we need to incorporate this with our fables unit,” Ms. Sneed said.

“I agree. Naturally, kids link morals and themes. Because of fables’ simplicity, they’re also easy to summarize.”

“Not only that,” Ms. Sneed added, “using a story arc makes it easy to understand. Afterward, kids easily transfer it to their narrative writing.”

“In my opinion, we should teach this really early in the year,” Mr. Frank said. He wrote, “RL.4.2 – Early in Q1.”

When teaching fourth grade literature, use a story arc to help kids summarize and find a theme.

CCSS RL.4.3 – Describing Characters, Settings, and Events

Both teachers looked at the next standard on the screen:

Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

“This fourth grade literature standard builds on RL.4.1. Once again, kids need to construct responses. However, this requires a bit more finesse,” said Ms. Sneed.

“Last year we used differentiated passages from Just So Stories. In my opinion, we should stick with those. Kipling’s characters each portray specific traits. That makes it easier for kids as they begin this skill.”

Ms. Sneed nodded. “Yes, but our kids should learn to describe characters later in the year.”

“Maybe second in the second grading period. That way, they could also write their own pourquoi tales.”


When kids construct responses about characters, use a graphic organizer that asks them to tell what the character said and did. Then ask them to use that information to determine a character trait.

CCSS RL.4.4 – Alluding to Greek Mythology

“Actually, the next fourth grade literature standard relates to vocabulary, specifically allusions,” Mr. Frank said.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).

“And to myths,” his teammate added. “Optimally, we should tackle this in our Greek mythology unit. Actually, I like using those allusions cards.”

Mr. Frank jotted this down on his notepad. “Third quarter?” he asked.

Ms. Sneed nodded. “Hmm, we could do it in the fourth. However, kids need to know the terms before testing. Better stick to the third quarter.”

When teaching CCSS RL.4.4, teach these 40 allusions.

CCSS RL.4.5 – Identifying Poetry, Prose, and Drama

Again, the teachers looked at the standards. They read,

Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.

“Definitely early in the year,” Ms. Sneed blurted out. “As a matter of fact, I prefer to teach poetry, prose, and drama in the first week.”

Mr. Frank nodded. “Yes, this worked well last year. Once I used the slideshow, I could refer to them all year long. Obviously, this provided important building blocks for fourth grade literature. Later in the year, we’ll do a poetry unit. At that time, we’ll reinforce poetry elements.”

He wrote, “RL.4.5 – BOY.”

When teaching fourth grade literature standard RL.4.5 for the CCSS, explain specific structures to kids.

CCSS RL.4.6 – Determining Point of View

“Here’s the next fourth grade literature standard,” Ms. Sneed said.

Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated, including the differences between first- and third-person narratives.

“Hmm,” said Mr. Frank. “Although this could be taught anytime, kids need to know about first-, second-, and third-person pronouns to be successful. In our daily language, we tackle those around the end of the first quarter.”

“Then we better plug it in at the beginning of the second quarter,” Ms. Sneed said. “Over the past few years, we’ve used that fun slideshow to introduce point of view. You know, the one that asks kids to identify the perspective of one-liners from famous children’s books?”

Mr. Frank grinned. “I love that one. Then we follow up with those point of view worksheets. Yes, let’s continue doing that.”

He wrote, “RL.4.6 – Beginning of Q2.”

The fourth grade literature standard for point of view requires understanding of first-person pronouns. CCSS

CCSS RL.4.7 – Making Text-Media Connections

“Oh boy, this one is tricky” Mr. Frank said before he read the next fourth grade literature standard.

Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.

“Well,” said Ms. Sneed, “we can definitely work on this as kids read books with pictures. Additionally, we can show YouTube videos that provide multimedia versions of stories we’re reading. For example, I’ve shown my students videos of The Wind in the Willows and Just So Stories.”

Mr. Frank clicked around on his laptop, looking for resources for teaching text and media. “Here’s something,” he suddenly said. “This set of multimedia resources has a slideshow that shows kids how media changes perception. Additionally, it provides practice.”

“I like that idea. Add it to your cart, and we’ll come back to it later.”

“When should we teach it?”

Ms. Sneed paused in thought. “Actually, we can plug this in anywhere. Let’s wait until we’re finished planning. Then we can look at our schedule and see what’s available.”

When teaching the CCSS standard on text and media, ask kids to compare how different images affect the meaning of a text. For example, these images give different feelings for "The Queen of Hearts."

CCSS RL.4.9 – Comparing and Contrasting Folktales

“Okay,” said Mr. Frank, “here’s the last one. After all, the CCSS doesn’t have a fourth grade literature standard labeled with an 8.”

Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.

“In my opinion, this standard needs a lot of support,” said Mr. Frank.

“Agreed. Actually, we should teach a unit to introduce and explore different types of folktales early in the second semester. Then we can launch into mythology and other genres. Furthermore, this is the most complex standard. In addition to understanding elements of literature, kids need expertise in constructing responses.”

“Okay, I’ll put it at the end of the third quarter,” Mr. Frank said.

Ms. Sneed nodded. “We already have a great unit on comparing folktales. So let’s keep using it.”

The final CCSS standard for fourth grade literature asks kids to compare folktales. It is the most complex standard because kids need to understand elements of literature, as well as how to write a constructed response.

Scheduling Fourth Grade Literature Units

Mr. Frank listed the fourth grade literature standards in the order they had discussed. “The first quarter has plenty of literature,” he said. “I’ll put text and media in the second quarter. If needed, we can bump it into the third.”

First Quarter

Second Quarter

Third Quarter

Ms. Sneed looked at the list. “Great!” Then she plugged them into their long-range planning sheet.

Enjoy Teaching Fourth Grade Literature Activities

The two teachers sat back in their chairs and smiled. Sure, planning took a lot of effort. But in the end, it made them enjoy teaching even more.

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