Fifth Grade Curriculum
Fifth grade students stand poised between elementary and middle school. Socially, emotionally and intellectually, this is an exciting year in which many changes take place during the transition from childhood to adolescence.
The program is designed to nurture and challenge fifth graders, many of whom still need the guidance and safety provided in elementary school. This year is marked by increased social awareness, self-awareness, and the need for independence. Keeping them challenged and focused, and helping them adjust to these changes, are themes that are interwoven throughout the year.
Many fifth graders enter the year as concrete thinkers, and by the end of the year are able to begin thinking abstractly and theoretically. They engage in meaningful discussions, and many are able to write sophisticated poetry. They enjoy discussions of abstract ideas, and can be quite idealistic in their thinking. Work in math, science, art and language arts begins to reflect this period of rapid change.
Fifth graders apply and study basic art and design principles. They use a variety of media such as crayons, markers, pastels, paint, scratch paper, clay, and colored pencils. Art encompasses discussion, practice, revising and planning. Activities include creating a class calendar, practicing drawing figures in motion, learning to enlarge pictures proportionally (in coordination with the math department), and drawing aquarium scenes using the “crayon resist” method. Fifth graders study the technique of pointillism, imitating the technique of the painter Seurat, for the end-of-year art show.
Integrated with their social studies theme of Colonial America, fifth graders make squares from wallpaper to form a quilt for classroom display.
Fifth graders use the school’s computer lab and the computers in their classrooms, concentrating on word processing and keyboarding skills. They learn to import graphics to accompany their writing. Some language arts assignments are written and edited using computers. Students gain greater ability to navigate the Internet and retrieve information. They learn the basics of how to prepare a presentation, and do research using CD ROM’s.
Language Arts in fifth grade is a stimulating, literature-based program, including correct language usage, grammar, spelling, vocabulary enrichment, and mechanics of English. Skills are practiced through discussions of literature and critical examination of each student’s own writing. We expect fifth graders to use a connected, cursive hand.
Students examine plot construction and the use of foreshadowing, rising and falling action, and climax. Fifth graders identify and correctly use parts of speech including nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives. They use correct ending punctuation in interrogative, declarative, exclamatory and imperative sentences. They identify complete, fragment and run-on sentences, as well as independent and dependent clauses.
Our students write summary paragraphs and identify main ideas. They create compositions in poetry and prose, write biographical pieces in short essay format, and write newspaper articles using the expository essay format. They use a writing process of pre-writing, drafting, revising and publishing. Fifth graders punctuate correctly with dialogue, and write letters in business and friendly forms, including persuasive techniques. They enrich their writing using analogies, similes, metaphors and personification. Also, they will complete a research paper.
While most fifth graders are capable readers and writers, we continue to utilize both whole language and phonics techniques. Program goals include helping students to read and write for pleasure, as well as to acquire and communicate information.
The mathematics program in Grade Five reinforces basic computation skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and helps develop problem-solving skills for use in middle school. Students are grouped to provide appropriate challenge and support. Skills taught include using whole numbers and decimals in place value through hundred millions; rounding, comparing and estimating sums and differences; determining multiples and least common multiples; order of operations; use of exponents; multiplying and dividing by three-digit numbers, and dividing whole numbers, including estimation and working with zero in the quotient.
Students are expected to determine greatest common factor and prime factorization. They work with project-based situations to collect and organize data into line and circle graphs, and calculate mean, median and mode.
In geometry, fifth graders measure to 1/8th inch. They work with diagonals in polygons, find perimeter and circumference of circles, use metric measures, and are introduced to transformational geometry via “slides,” “turns” and “flips.” They measure and draw angles, learn about types of symmetry and triangles, and learn to define points, lines and planes. They learn to use ordered pairs of numbers in graphing, find area and volume of prisms and irregular solids, work with basic algebra concepts, and define similar and congruent shapes. Fifth graders multiply and divide fractions, solve problems using reciprocals, and explore ratio, percent and probability.
Physical goals include improving physical coordination and self-confidence, building strength, developing teamwork skills, and acquiring skills for individual and team sports. The program teaches the importance of physical conditioning and a healthy, active life style.
In soccer, new skills are introduced such as passing, trapping, and using the inside and outside of the foot. Skills like dribbling, learned in earlier grades, are incorporated into regulation games. Students practice basketball “lead up” games including jump shot and “rebounder-passer-shooter” relays. Fifth graders do gymnastics, including tumbling and rope work, and play cooperative games to strengthen teamwork and problem solving skills.
Grade Five science classes conduct experiments exploring the scientific method. Lectures are sometimes used, but experimentation and demonstration are the preferred methods of instruction. At an appropriate level, students are expected to draw conclusions, compare and contrast, find main ideas, recognize sequences, explain cause and effect, read diagrams, and summarize. The science curriculum is divided into four main units.
Unit I is Physical Energy - Sound and Light. Our students learn that sound is energy traveling through matter in waves. They learn to apply terms such as pitch and loudness, understand that light travels in straight lines, and experiment using mirrors and lenses.
Unit II - Life Science, deals with plants. Fifth graders study photosynthesis and understand its importance to all life. They study different forms of reproduction, both sexual and asexual, and become familiar with basic plant classification.
Unit III concerns Properties of Matter. Students learn different ways of measuring matter, including density, mass and volume. They learn the definition of matter in terms of atoms and elements; are introduced to the idea of chemical combination; and study different states of matter including solid, gas, liquid, and why changes occur.
Unit IV involves Earth Science - Weather and Climate. Fifth graders learn about atmospheric factors affecting weather and climate. They learn how climate is defined and what influences it, and they study the effects and definitions of insulation, humidity, temperature and air pressure.
Fifth grade social studies is organized around the themes of Explorers and Colonial America. The objective is to help students understand the historical roots of the United States and how it developed. We divide the course into six units comprising Land and People; Exploration; Early European Settlers; New England Colonies; The Revolutionary War; and Branches of Government.
Students create graphs and charts, and they research a major explorer. They create timelines, compare settlements from different countries, create a Power Point presentation of Colonial Times, and participate in a hands-on “Colonial Day” activity.
Fifth graders study the factors leading up to the American Revolution, analyze cause and effect in American history, and examine the foundations of the American government system.