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Teaching Narrative Writing in 4th Grade Elementary

Related articles, teaching reading comprehension to 6th graders, how to teach note-taking skills in the fifth & sixth grades, differences in narrative vs. exposition in a story.

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By fourth grade, most student can organize their thoughts into coherent sentences and maintain focus on one main topic. Narrative writing provides students with an opportunity to refine and practice these skills, as well as build on these skills by requiring them to coordinate multiple events based on one idea. Foster your student’s creativity and further their writing abilities through narrative lesson plans.

What is a Narrative?

Before you begin writing, teach your fourth graders the definition of a narrative, which is a story. Many students have probably told their parents what they did at school one day or listed animals they saw at the zoo, but a narrative is more than just a retelling of events -- it generally focuses on one overarching idea, usually resolves a conflict or problem, and may show a change in a main character, according to Windham Southeast Supervisory Union.

Providing Examples

Read some examples of narrative writing with your fourth-grade students. The book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst is one classic example of a narrative story. The book recounts the unfortunate events throughout one day and ends with Alexander’s mother comforting him, telling him that everyone has bad days. The structure of the book reaffirms that narratives emphasize one main idea and often resolve at the end.

Personal Narrative

Many fourth-grade students will find it easier to write a story about themselves than to make up a plot, so provide prompts for students to write a personal narrative. Students can write about a vacation, their favorite day, a birthday party or a time they were in trouble. Start with brainstorming and ask students to answer the questions about what happened, where and when it occurred, and who else was present. Fourth graders can jot down ideas for the beginning, middle and end of their stories, followed by writing the complete narrative based on their notes.

Fictional Narrative

You can also allow students to get creative and write fictional narratives. Similar to writing a personal narrative, start with brainstorming ideas for a character and situations that person might get into. If students have a hard time creating a character, give prompts, such as asking students to imagine they are their pet or what would happen if they went into a dark cave. Once students have an idea and an outline of their story, they can write the narrative. Alternatively, students can base a story on research. Fourth graders can take information they learned from another subject, such as history, and create stories about historical figures or events.

  • Utah Education Network: Fourth Grade Writing Lesson #1/Narrative Prompt
  • Teacher Vision: Writing a Personal Narrative
  • The Kennedy Center: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  • Portland Public Schools: Narrative Writing: Personal Narrative

Cara Batema is a musician, teacher and writer who specializes in early childhood, special needs and psychology. Since 2010, Batema has been an active writer in the fields of education, parenting, science and health. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and creative writing.

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4th grade writing

by: Jessica Kelmon | Updated: August 4, 2022

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Your 4th grader's writing under Common Core Standards

In fourth grade, study skills play an important role in your child’s writing. Kids do research using multiple sources. They also learn to take notes on what they research, read. and hear. And even stories are more advanced, with more developed characters who show their feelings and react to what happens. And perhaps most important, your child is expected to analyze a book’s structure, logic, details, and evidence in their writing. It’s all pretty impressive!

Building 4th grade study skills

This year taking notes is an important skill. Fourth graders are expected to use books, periodicals, websites, and other digital sources to conduct research projects — both on their own and as part of group work with peers. Your child should keep track of all the sources they check — noting what they learn, the name of the source and page number or url so they can find it again and create a source list or bibliography later.

Also, taking notes while reading fiction will help your child when it comes time to analyze what they’ve read or to give an in-depth description of a character, setting, or story event drawing on specific details.

Check out this related worksheet: •  Finding key points

bttr, better, best!

Last year’s prewriting step — planning — becomes more essential in your child’s writing process this year. Before your child sits down to write, they should use their organized notes to help create the structure of whatever they’re writing. While planning , your child may brainstorm ideas for a story or decide how to organize facts into a cohesive set of points. The more knowledge your child builds during the prewriting stage, the easier it will be to write. Encourage reading and rereading, taking notes, finding additional sources, discussing aloud how new knowledge fits in with what your child knew before, and visually organizing what they plan to write about. After the first draft is written, the teacher and possibly other students will offer feedback: asking questions to elicit new details or clarify an argument or suggest new sources of information. They should check that there’s a clear introduction and conclusion, and that the order of points or events makes sense. Your child will then do a revision (or two), adding, reordering, and refining their writing to show deep understanding.

After making revisions, your child does a final edit focusing on spelling, grammar, punctuation, and strengthening word choices. These steps — planning, writing a first draft, revising, and editing the final piece — help fourth graders understand that research, organizing, clarifying ideas, and improving grammar and presentation are all essential to strong writing.

See what your fourth grade writing looks like

YouTube video

Fourth grade writing: opinion pieces

Your child’s opinions always need to be supported by evidence. Persuasive writing should start by clearly introducing an opinion on a topic. To support their opinion, kids need to present their argument, which is a list of reasons why they hold that opinion. Each of their reasons needs to be supported by facts and details (a.k.a. evidence). After presenting all of their research-supported reasons, kids should close their arguments with a concluding statement or paragraph that sums up how their evidence supports their opinion.

Check out this example of good fourth grade opinion writing: • “ Zoos should close ”

Fourth grade writing: informative writing

This year, your child’s informative writing gets more organized, with headers, illustrations and even multimedia components to support specific points. To begin, your child should introduce the topic. Then they should use facts, definitions, details, quotes, examples, and other information to develop their topic into a few clear, well thought-out paragraphs. Your fourth grader should use advanced linking words (e.g. also, another, for example, because ) to form compound and complex sentences connecting their research and ideas to the point they’re making. Finally, to wrap it up, your child should have a conclusion — either a statement or, if necessary, a section labeled conclusion.

Check out these three examples of good fourth grade informational writing: • “ John Cabot and the Rediscovery of North America ” • “ Big Book of Evolution ” • “ Book report: A Tale of Despereaux ”

Can your fourth grader write an informational essay?

YouTube video

Fourth grade writing: narratives

A narrative means writing a story. This year your child will be expected to use storytelling techniques, descriptive details, and clear sequences to tell compelling tales. Whether inspired by a favorite book, real events, or your child’s imagination, your child’s story should use dialogue, descriptive words, and transitional language. Look for precise language and sensory details that bring characters to life. Finally, your child should keep pacing and sequence of events in mind. The events should unfold naturally, bringing the story to a natural conclusion. Are surprise endings okay? Sure… so long as the details and events plausibly lead there.

Check out this related worksheet: •  Putting sentences in order

Gettin’ good at grammar

You may want to review all those parts of speech your child learned last year because fourth grade grammar is expected to be quite accurate. Your child should know relative pronouns (e.g. who, whose, whom, which, that ), relative adverbs (e.g. where, when, why ), adjective ordering (e.g. short dark hair and small red bag ), descriptive prepositional phrases (e.g. in the air, down the block, on the grass ), progressive past, present, and future verbs (e.g. I was walking, I am walking, I will be walking ), and verbs used with other verbs to express mood or tense (aka modal auxiliaries, e.g. can, may, must, should, would ). Also, your child needs to master the distinctions between frequently confused words like to , too , and two and there , their , and they’re . Finally, your child should be able to recognize and correct run-on sentences.

Check out these related worksheets: •  Prepositions •  Compound sentences •  Punctuating a paragraph •  Its or it’s?

Learning to use language precisely

This means:

  • Recognizing and explaining common idioms (e.g. bending over backwards )
  • Distinguishing between similes and metaphors (e.g. quiet as a mouse and the sun is a yellow beach ball ).
  • Identifying and using synonyms and antonyms
  • Using increasingly specific words in writing (e.g. glamorous instead of pretty, pre-dawn instead of morning, quizzed instead of asked )

Your fourth grader should now be using relevant academic words in informational writing and research reports. Although accurate spelling should be the norm in fourth grade, when faced with spelling more academic words, your child should use a dictionary and thesaurus (print and digital versions).

Check out these related worksheets: • 4th grade weekly spelling lists • Making metaphors • Simile or cliché?

Sharing their work

Most classrooms will encourage (if not require) kids to use technology to produce and publish their writing. Your fourth grader should be able to type up to a full page in one sitting. While teachers should be there to help, your child should be doing the work. Students will also be expected to interact with peers about each other’s work. What might that look like? Your child might read a classmates’ published work online and comment on it, or cite a peer’s work when answering a question in class.

Updated August 2022

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Free Printable Narrative Essay Structure Worksheets for 4th Grade

Narrative Essay Structure: Discover a collection of free printable worksheets for Grade 4 Reading & Writing teachers, designed to enhance students' understanding and skills in crafting compelling narrative essays.


Explore Narrative Essay Structure Worksheets by Grades

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Explore printable Narrative Essay Structure worksheets for 4th Grade

Narrative Essay Structure worksheets for Grade 4 are essential tools for teachers looking to enhance their students' reading and writing skills. These worksheets are specifically designed to help young learners in Grade 4 understand the fundamentals of writing organization and structure. By incorporating these worksheets into their lesson plans, teachers can provide their students with a solid foundation in narrative essay writing. These worksheets cover various aspects of narrative essay writing, such as creating engaging introductions, developing characters, setting the scene, and crafting compelling conclusions. As a result, students will be better equipped to express their thoughts and ideas in a clear, organized manner, ultimately improving their overall reading and writing abilities.

Quizizz, a popular online platform for creating and sharing educational content, offers a wide range of resources for teachers, including Narrative Essay Structure worksheets for Grade 4. In addition to these worksheets, Quizizz also provides other offerings, such as interactive quizzes and engaging games, which can be used to supplement the learning experience. Teachers can easily integrate Quizizz into their lesson plans, providing students with a fun and interactive way to practice their reading and writing skills. By utilizing Quizizz's vast library of resources, teachers can create a comprehensive and engaging curriculum that caters to the unique needs of their Grade 4 students. This will not only help students improve their writing organization and structure but also foster a love for reading and writing that will last a lifetime.

Teacher's Notepad

57 Narrative Writing Prompts For 4th Grade

Journaling is an important part of self-exploration and deep thinking. Giving students a list of prompts to choose from allows them to choose which parts of themselves to explore, and helps keep their writing headed in a certain direction.

Below, you’ll find a list of narrative writing prompts to inspire your students to reflect on their thoughts and feelings.

Using These Prompts

Writing prompts are great because they give struggling writers a sense of direction, but they also help more skilled writers explore thoughts and feelings that they might not have thought of before.

Here are a few ways you can use these prompts in your classroom:

  • Challenge students to pick one or two prompts a day for an entire week.
  • Create a spinner using a cut-out circle and a paper clip, and have students spin to see which prompt they’re going to use.
  • Keep these prompts nearby for students to use when they have spare quiet time in class.
  • If you sense a student struggling emotionally, recommend using one of these prompts to help them reflect on these feelings.

The Writing Prompts

  • Describe your ideal field trip.
  • Write about a special memory that you will never forget.
  • Describe your style. Do your parents choose how you dress or do you choose your own clothes?
  • You wake up this morning with wings. Describe what happens next.
  • What kinds of books do you prefer to read? List some examples.
  • Write about a conflict you had with a friend. How did you resolve the situation?
  • Rewrite your favorite children’s story, but make the main character a superhero.
  • Describe the most frightening dream you’ve ever had.
  • How do you entertain yourself when you don’t have access to screens and devices?
  • Write about your favorite family tradition.
  • There’s a classroom in your school that is always locked with its lights off. One day, you walk by and the door is ajar. What happens next?
  • Write about a role model you have, and describe how they’ve affected your life.
  • Describe the ideal snow day.
  • Have you ever lost something important? What happened next?
  • What is the most important lesson you’ve learned this year?
  • Think of a time when you were very irritated. Explain why, and then explain how you resolved it.
  • What is the best part of the school day? Why?
  • What would you do if you were the principal for the day?
  • Write a story about someone who wakes up and realizes they’re microscopic.
  • Why is it important that people help others?
  • Describe something you’ve learned recently. Was it easy or difficult to learn?
  • Write a story from the point of view of someone meeting you for the first time.
  • Are you good at keeping secrets? Explain.
  • Describe a time when you stood up for yourself.
  • Describe a time when you stood up for someone else.
  • What is your favorite thing about your best friend?
  • Explain your favorite board or card game to someone who has never played it before.
  • Write your plans for the perfect weekend.
  • A harmless but wild animal wanders into your classroom. How does your class react? What happens next?
  • You wake up and realize that you can speak to your pet. What do you talk about?
  • Describe a time when you participated in a contest.
  • Write about the perfect summer day.
  • Tell a story about two people who switch jobs for a day.
  • Write about something that makes you laugh.
  • Why is patience important? Do you consider yourself a patient person?
  • Do you think boys and girls are actually different from each other? Explain.
  • Do you enjoy writing? What is your favorite thing to write about?
  • Write the story of how you met your best friend.
  • Describe what you hope your life is like 10 years from now.
  • Describe what you hope your life is like 20 years from now.
  • Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Explain.
  • The plant on your teacher’s desk suddenly sprouts a strange fruit. What is it? What happens next?
  • Do you have a funny or interesting story about losing a tooth? Write about it.
  • Write about a time when you shared a special meal with your family.
  • What would you do if you woke up tomorrow in your favorite video game?
  • If you were to describe your best friend as a color, what color would they be? Why?
  • What is your favorite food? Why do you like it?
  • What is something that you worry about at night?
  • Make a list of ten things you love about yourself.
  • Write a story from the point of view of your shoes.
  • Write about a time when you gave in to peer pressure.
  • Describe the last time you got hurt. What happened?
  • Tell a story about a time when you got caught doing something you weren’t supposed to.
  • Which person in your family are you most similar to? How are you alike? How are you different?
  • Describe a time when you felt embarrassed.
  • Invent a new sandwich. Write about how to make it, and try to convince others to try it.

Looking For More?

Whether you’re looking for writing prompts or classroom resources, our site is your one-stop destination for making your classroom run more smoothly.

We are home to writing resources, premade forms, and much more! If you’re looking for something specific and can’t find it here, let us know.

We’re here to help your classroom run more smoothly so you can spend more time shaping the minds of the future.

how to write a narrative essay in 4th grade

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