The Grade 4 Expo is the culmination of a student's Lower School years at Far Hills. The Expo has a significant writing component central to the Grade 4 language arts curriculum. Preparation for the Expo begins within the first few weeks of the school year as students learn how Indigenous people and early settlers used the land for their survival. In Trimester 2, we build on this by looking at how different cultures interact with each other and studying the events that led to the American Revolution. Students not only learn about the specific details of taxation and The Boston Tea Party but also understand the reasoning from both sides, King George and the colonists, as to why they felt their actions were justified.
Each student is assigned the role of a colonial tradesperson. This helps to frame the project for them and gives them a platform from which to begin their research. Students spend the first few weeks researching the tools and materials of their respective trades and their primary customers. Based on their findings, students then decided if it would be in their best interest to remain loyal to King George or join with the Patriots. These findings are drafted into a four-paragraph essay that states arguments both FOR and AGAINST the issue. After deciding on a position, students then crafted speeches aimed at persuading audience members to support their views.
As you walk around, you will see that each student has put together a showboard that highlights the process that we just outlined and their final products. Students also created costumes and props based on their tradesperson and typical colonial fashion. You will see how this project integrates with other curricular areas, including Art, Music, and Learning and Design.
In Art, students are allowed to explore their colonial trades. Students create small three-dimensional models of those tools using the research they have gathered about their tools and materials. As an homage to early foods cooked in wood-firing ovens, the students created a pizza sculpture to display their tool models. The tools represent the toppings on the pizza, and the "sauce" is a paint color that is specific to their trade. The crust of the pizza is a burlap material, in keeping with some of the original textiles used in colonial times. The students learn some basic sewing techniques to develop the crust on the outside edges of their pizzas. The final result is a product of many artistic processes, each of which is a reflection of their understanding of a part of our American history. Since these students can delve so deeply into the details of their assigned trades, we can witness the process of concrete multisensory learning.
In Music, Grade 4 musicians study and perform the music of the Revolutionary War. They learn how specific instruments were used as communication tools during battles. They also discovered that many of our country's patriotic songs originated as loyalist songs that made fun of the patriots (Yankee Doodle being a prime example). Their studies are brought into the 21st century with a performance of an adapted version of "My Shot" from Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda. The Grade 4 students thoroughly enjoy learning this piece in correlation with their studies of the American Revolutionary War.
In Learning and Design, students create a Google Slide quiz with several required features. They format the background, font, and layout with their multiple-choice questions. The most important and challenging step is creating links that navigate to the proper slides in their presentation. They also had the option to insert images—remembering to give credit with the URL.
We are immensely proud of every student's work. As we reach the finish line of this project and the school year, it gives us great joy to look back at the evolution of every child's skills as a researcher, critical thinker, public speaker, and much, much more.