The Fifth Grade child exemplifies the pinnacle of childhood. S/he is at the peak of physical grace and balance, as yet unencumbered by the pressures of adolescence. The child has gained some self-knowledge and maturity in comparison to the younger grades, and has confidence in the academic and physical skills acquired. The curriculum addresses the child at this time of balance by bringing challenges, while at the same time reinforcing academic foundations built in the previous grades.
Math – More work with fractions and the introduction of decimals as another form of fractions are a mainstay of the Fifth Grade curriculum. The class is also introduced to the coordinate plane and the metric system. The students begin a relationship to geometric forms by drawing them by hand without the use of any tools, striving for accuracy and beauty.
Literature and Grammar – Writing, speaking, reading, and grammar are key elements of Language Arts instruction. Spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and the use of active and passive voice are included. Several class readers are explored and studied which enrich the geography, social studies, and history blocks.
Science – Botany is the main scientific study, with emphasis on photosynthesis, categories of plants from fungi to flowering plants, experiments and observation of the growth process, and the world’s climate zones. Gardening lessons support these topics and maintenance of the garden is integrated. To reinforce this knowledge, students journey to Yosemite National Park for a 5-day learning adventure.
Music – Singing is a daily activity and four-part harmony is practiced. Music instruction continues three times per week with recorder and violin lessons as well as reading musical notation.
Art – Drawing, painting, origami, geometric drawing, and clay modeling make up part of every week. Artistic work is integral to every academic block and pervades the curriculum.
Foreign Language – Spanish language instruction continues twice a week with emphasis on pronunciation, reading, and writing in Spanish. The students are immersed in a program of song, drama, artistic work, and grammar led by a native speaker.
Handwork – The craft of knitting is taken up again after being learned in first grade, and now reappears with the instruction of knitting socks on four needles. Following instructions in a pattern, using different stitches, and correcting mistakes are all part of this twice-weekly class.
History and Social Studies – Ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, India, and Greece take a major role in the Fifth Grade curriculum. Language, culture, customs, major historical figures, epic stories, and technological inventions are studied. From the beginnings of civilization to the end of Ancient History with Alexander the Great, the class learns about the contributions of each culture.
Geography – Geography of North America and particularly the United States is studied in two separate blocks. Land forms such as major mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, and plains are identified, located on maps, and researched. Study of Native American tribes is included, particularly their use of natural resources for farming, shelters, and transportation. The impact of geography on a region’s economy is a major component of study.
Technology – Introduction to computers begins this year with a study of keyboarding skills.
Movement – With the child at the pinnacle of physical grace and balance, the Fifth Grade participates with many other schools in a “Greek Pentathlon”. This contest is one in which grace, beauty, form, and sportsmanship are lauded along with individual achievements of speed or accuracy.