Fifth Grade

Language Arts

The Fifth Grade English curriculum transitions students from thinking solely about the plot and characters of literature to understanding novels on a deeper level by focusing on motivation, inference making, analysis, and the use of literary devices. Students are introduced to several literary forms including fiction, poetry, biography, mythology, period novels, and short stories. They will read The Watsons Go to Birmingham -1963, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Chains, and Tales of the Greek Heroes; they will enjoy read-alouds of A Christmas Carol and The Adventures of Ulysses. Students also participate in an in-depth study of poetry learning about devices such as Meter and Rhyme; and, they will work through problems and design solutions in several Project Based Learning events throughout the year, often involving some types of dramatic integrations as their final components. The ultimate goal of the course is to establish a love of literature in one or more of its many forms and an appreciation of its depths and complexities. 


The content emphasized in the math curriculum includes numeration, operations, data analysis, geometry, measurement, patterns, functions and algebra. Fifth graders are expected to be able to use addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division efficiently and accurately. Students use concrete materials to investigate mathematical concepts. Problem solving approaches and logic further develop critical thinking skills. Throughout the year, students will receive a thorough review and extension of place value, addition and subtraction of large numbers, and basic multiplication facts. The study of the concept of division and how it relates to fractions, decimals and percentages will be introduced. Once students understand the definition and function of a fraction, they are exposed to the ideas of equivalent fractions, improper fractions vs. mixed numbers, fraction inequalities, the addition and subtraction of fractions, and ultimately, changing fractions into decimals and percentages. Data collection, data analysis, and graphing are also studied. Students are encouraged to verbalize and record their mathematical processes and thinking.


As students move into Middle School, science becomes one of the core academic classes. The fifth grade science curriculum covers three modules which span the three major strands of science. Students study Mixtures and Solutions, which is part of Physical science. Astronomy, with a particular emphasis on the solar system, is part of Earth Science. Finally, a study of Living Systems, which is part of Life Science, rounds out the year. The curriculum is inquiry based and relies heavily on hands-on activities. The primary focus is on learning the skills associated with experimentation such as measurement, observation, drawing conclusions, and designing experiments.

Social Studies

Fifth grade explores the history and development of the United States of America. The year begins by learning about the Native peoples of North America and the relationship of the development of these civilizations to the physical environment of the tribal homelands. Students next discover the motivations behind the Age of Exploration by examining European expeditions to the New World.  Students learn how the lasting effects of specific explorations connect to New World development. Through a colonial simulation activity, students must make the religious, economic, and cultural decisions necessary to survive and to develop a colonial community in early America.  Students study the actions leading to the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War as they research early American heroes. Class groups use their knowledge to script, compose and perform an original musical play to teach others about the seminal events of the founding of the United States. Next, students study the development and structure of the United States Constitution. Finally, fifth graders complete an independent research project and presentation to teach classmates about an additional event in United States history. Throughout the year, students learn research skills, discernment strategies, economic decision making, and examine positive character traits. 

World Languages

Each trimester is devoted to one language: German, French, and Spanish. The curriculum in each is shaped by the objective of enabling a student to acquire and convey basic information as a traveler. Students engage in a dialogue in the target language, incorporating greetings, exchanging information about names, spelling of names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Students also study the target countries, particularly their geography and currency. As part of the currency study, students learn how to count, readying them to master the art of telling time correctly. Towards the end of the year, a student selects foreign languages to study during sixth – eighth grade.