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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. Exploring the theme of Personal Responsibility, they read Beyond the Bright Sea, The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, Breaking Stalin's Nose, On My Honor, and Tales of the Greek Heroes. Students also participate in an in-depth study of poetry, learning about devices such as meter and rhyme; and they work through problems and design solutions in project-based learning events throughout the year. The ultimate goal of the course is to establish the foundation for future literary analysis, while continuing to expand students' vocabulary and improve their reading comprehension, writing and grammar skills.


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 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 is 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.


The fifth-grade science curriculum emphasizes the development of science process skills through the introduction of physical, life, and earth sciences. The curriculum is inquiry based and relies heavily on hands-on activities conducted in class and in the field. The primary focus is on learning the skills associated with experimentation such as measurement, observation, drawing conclusions, and designing and documenting experiments. Students learn the process of maintaining a lab notebook throughout the year to document the preparation for and results of their experiments. Fifth graders learn that science is both a process of discovery and a body of knowledge that is constantly evolving.

Social Studies

The fifth grade social studies class is designed to help students become more thoughtful and critical readers, deliberate and skilled writers, and involved and responsible human beings. The curriculum addresses the exploration, founding, and growth of the United States from the time of the early Native people through the creation of the Constitution. Through a colonial simulation activity, students make the economic, cultural, social, and religious decisions necessary to survive and to develop a colonial community in early America. In fifth grade, students learn the foundation for the primary-source research process they will continue to use throughout Middle School. The ultimate goal of fifth grade social studies is to engage students in a creative and innovative study of the past so that may better understand its relation to their present and future.

World Languages

After having studied Spanish throughout Lower School, fifth graders rotate between German, French, and Spanish classes, studying each language for one quarter. Computational Thinking rounds out the fourth of four quarters. The curriculum in each fifth-grade world language class strives to enable students to acquire and convey basic information as a traveler. Students engage in a dialogue in the target language, incorporating greetings, and exchange 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. In May of the fifth-grade year, students select which one of the three world languages they will study through eighth grade.