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Fifth Grade

Some of the exciting and engaging events that students in Grade 5 look forward to:

Class Play -  Students in Grade 5 perform in front of whole school at our Friday assembly in the spring. 

Survey Project - Students ask their peers survey questions, collect and analyze data, and then visually display their data in a frequency table and bar graph.  Students also present their data by writing a paragraph summarizing their findings.

Ancient Greece Research Paper - Students choose any topic they are interested in and compose a research essay with a thesis and bibliography.

Apple Mummies - In science and history, students mummify apples following all of the same steps that the ancient Egyptians used while taking observations before and after the mummification process.

Roman Marketplace - Students research Roman stores and commerce, and in Art, they create models of stores based on Roman architecture.

King Tut Death Investigation - Students research the death of King Tut, are divided into two teams, and try to prove that he was either murdered or died of natural causes.

English Language Arts

In fifth grade, students become more independent as readers and writers as they build upon the language arts skills they acquired in previous grades. At the same time, they are challenged and supported in specific areas to broaden their repertoire and grow as lifelong learners. Reading and writing are essential components of this course, and students engage in both, regularly and with vigor.

Homework may include reading a chapter of a novel, completing a written response to a short story, writing sentences for vocabulary or spelling words, writing responses to short answer questions in complete sentences, among others. In addition, each child has an independent reading book (IRB) that is approved by the teacher for appropriateness and comfortable reading level. Students are expected to read their IRBs for about twenty minutes each day.  

A typical fifth grade English class is characterized by a balance of direct instruction, class discussion, group work, and individual work. Fifth graders are active in their learning process.

Literature is at the core of the fifth grade curriculum. Students read, discuss, analyze, and write about a variety of genres and styles, including realistic fiction (short stories and novels), non-fiction, mythology, fantasy and science fiction, historical fiction and poetry. They learn how to move beyond basic reading comprehension (recalling plot sequence, characters, and details) and begin to delve into the more analytical side of literature study (drawing inferences, making connections to other literary works, identifying symbols and themes, analyzing character motivations, etc.).  

In fifth grade, literature and writing are inextricably linked. They follow the same progression of writing skills as presented in fourth grade, following the Write Traits program combined with Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study for Teaching Writing.  Fifth graders begin the year collecting their memories and developing small moments in the form of personal narrative. They move into more formal essays and then ultimately arrive at a point where they are able to take a position on a particular topic and support a thesis with strong reasoning and examples. Students often write about the literature they are reading for class (and independently), and they do so in several ways. From responding to a chapter in their reading notebook to writing a short answer paragraph to learning the basics of literary analysis, students actively write in order to think more critically. The writing process is an essential part of our writing program, and students engage in all of its stages with teacher guidance, direction, and support. Feedback is done via traditional handwritten comments and comments that may be posted on an online document.   

Yet, not all writing is about the literature. It can also be creative and personal in fifth grade. Writing assignments may include short stories, poems, myths, personal narratives, friendly and/or business letters, vocabulary stories, and historical fiction. The goals of our fifth grade writing program are to immerse students in different modes of writing, get them comfortable with the writing process, and have them take risks.   

In the midst of all this reading and writing, students learn about the fundamentals of language. Grammar, spelling, and vocabulary are on going in the fifth grade English class.  In grammar lessons, students explore parts of speech, linking and helping verbs, irregular past participles, direct objects, and memorize most prepositions. Students learn rules for spelling using Spelling Connections, a program designed to meet the individual needs and level of spelling proficiency of each student.  Finally, fifth graders build their vocabulary through the Vocabulary for Achievement program, a systematic approach to word learning, as well as, through the authentic practice of defining words they come across in the literature they read. 

Texts and Literature

Because of Mr.Terupt, Buyea 

City of Ember, DuPrau 

Tuck Everlasting, Babbitt 

Sniffer Dogs, Castaldo 

The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn, Hoobler and Hoobler 

The Odyssey, Lister

Poetry of Robert Frost 

Selected short stories from Best Short Stories: Introductory Level and Shocks


The Middle School mathematics curriculum recognizes and builds on students’ capabilities by expanding the range of their mathematics experiences and ideas. Course work helps students make the transition from concrete operations to abstractions and skills with symbols. The curriculum builds the foundation they will need for algebra, geometry, and data analysis courses. 

Mathematics is also integrated into other curriculum areas. Teachers help students explore applications in science and social studies, the origins and uses of the language of mathematics, and the close relationship between mathematics and the arts. Students learn to communicate mathematically amongst themselves and with their teachers. Partner and small group activities help students to share their thinking and ideas with their peers in a cooperative environment, while cross-grade collaborations deepen the experiences of the students. 

Students develop and enrich their number sense and operation sense by engaging in mathematical activities and challenges appropriate to their developmental level. Students focus on developing their ability to compute with fractions and decimals. Arithmetic skills are practiced in a variety of contexts, including the order of operations, data analysis, and geometric relationships. Their study of geometry includes perimeter, area, and volume. In addition, this course emphasizes the use of multiple representations of numbers, requiring students to convert between fractions, decimals, and percents. They investigate the meaning of numbers, as well as consolidate their basic math facts recall skills. Students learn to try out various representations of problem situations to understand them better. They expand each other's repertoire of problem solving strategies as they share problem solutions, emphasizing their various talents and preferences.

The program helps students take responsibility for their own mathematics learning and apply their new knowledge to problem solving in the world around them. 

Mathematics Course 1, Prentice Hall


The fifth grade history curriculum guides students in an exploration of the ancient world.  The course begins with the development of civilization in the ancient Near East, before examining the people of ancient Egypt, Japan, India, China, Greece, and Rome. A curriculum of such breadth naturally encourages students to think analytically--comparing, contrasting, and tracing intersections between the civilizations. In particular, students consider the geographic, economic, and governmental factors that are necessary for civilization. From this discussion, they also consider the roles that religion, art, gender, class, and politics play. In current events discussions, this material offers a lens to examine the modern day.

A thorough grounding in study skills is central to the course. In all arenas, students first learn skills through direct instruction in the whole-group setting before practicing them independently, either at school or at home. This is true as students focus on textbook reading strategies and outlining, auditory comprehension of and participation in discussion, note taking, or test preparation (including creating and using study guides). Of course, each child progresses developmentally at his or her own pace, and expectations are flexible to allow for differentiation. 

Especially with such young historians, engaging projects are key to making concepts accessible, relevant, and inspiring, such as drawing a comic strip to visually depict the causes and effects of the Nile’s yearly flood and creating a model of a Roman marketplace. Furthermore, students consistently engage with art and literature of the periods they are studying; in English, they read historical fiction and period literature, such as selections from mythology and epics. A field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art brings the students’ historical studies alive. In addition to numerous smaller writing assignments, students also complete one full research paper; the emphasis throughout this project is on correct and careful execution of each stage of the research process, from choosing a topic and locating sources, through taking notes and creating an outline, to producing the paper and sources page. The process follows MLA format, as expressed in the TPS Manual for Research Process and Writing.

Texts and Literature:
History of Our World, Prentice Hall 

Early Humans, Eyewitness Books

Ancient Civilizations, Eyewitness Books

Life in Ancient Japan, Peoples of the Ancient World

TPS Manual for Research Process and Writing


The Middle School science curriculum is designed to give students a broad understanding of topics in physical, life, and earth sciences throughout their three years in the program. Each year, students develop their science process skills through an interactive science inquiry approach that allows them to use their experiences to develop a deeper understanding of abstract science topics. Students work cooperatively throughout the year, wherein group members work together in creating models, collecting data, analyzing information, drawing conclusions, and reporting results.

The fifth grade curriculum is matched to the developmental level of fifth grade students and focuses on active learning. The first unit of study spirals back to the physical sciences with an exploration of waves and sound. Then, weather permitting, students go out to the school garden, exploring and harvesting the plants that have been growing there over the summer. 

Students then learn all about microscopes to begin their study of cells; the basic unit of life. From there, the fifth grade moves through an analysis of the animal kingdom, starting with the simple sponge and moving all the way through mammals. The focus then shifts to the human body. The fifth graders’ focus is on the skeletal, muscular, digestive, circulatory, and respiratory systems. The students present their understanding of these systems in their science symposium at the end of the year. 

Interdisciplinary work is a hallmark of the science curriculum in the Middle School at TPS. The fifth grade body system study leads to an ideal correlation between science and physical education. The students examine the connections between the circulatory system and aerobic sports and the digestive system and sports nutrition. Sound waves are explored through a visualization of music. Data analysis is often tied to current math practices. 

Texts and Materials: 
Sound and Light, Science Explorer Series, Prentice Hall
Human Body Systems, Interactive Science Series, Pearson
The Diversity of Life, Interactive Science Series, Pearson
Human Body Systems, National Science Foundation INSIGHTS curriculum 
Music to My Ears, National Science Foundation INSIGHTS curriculum 
Physics of Sound, Full Options Science Series


In fifth grade, French students develop solid, sustained mastery of the most common, high-frequency vocabulary in French. Students learn to use their vocabulary in a range of situations, including dialogues, storytelling, spontaneous conversation, and writing. Acquiring this vocabulary forms a foundation for learning grammar rules and different verb tenses, as well as for facilitating faster vocabulary acquisition later on. Vocabulary is introduced related to different cultural events, holidays, and as part of units dealing with French and francophone cultures.

Fifth grade marks the beginning of explicit grammar instruction and a shift of focus from fluency to accuracy. Students are expected to produce more language at this level both in writing and speech. Grammar concepts include:

  • infinitives; 
  • present and simple future tenses; 
  • articles; 
  • prepositional phrases; 
  • direct and indirect object pronouns; 
  • and conjugations. 

More advanced vocabulary and grammar are introduced through readings and stories. In addition to vocabulary quizzes and writing assignments, students also take spelling quizzes, dictations, and speaking and listening assessments on a regular basis. Students begin to manipulate the language more creatively and independently. Classes are conducted in the target language using the communicative method of instruction. 

Bon Voyage Level 1A Textbook & Workbook, McGraw Hill

So You Think You Can Run a Restaurant? – Students complete a WebQuest (created by Mme. O’Connor) by researching topics related to dining in France and ultimately create their own restaurant and accompanying menu. 


Students begin formal instruction in Latin in fifth grade with the introductory textbook Minimus, which follows a family living in Romanized Britain around 100 C.E. from the perspective of a mouse living in the house named “Minimus.” The students learn grammar and vocabulary through lively and entertaining stories about Minimus and a family based on a real family that lived in northern Britain. The plot line incorporates illustrated myths and legends that make learning grammar and vocabulary fun. Students are introduced to different parts of speech, focusing on basic noun forms and verb conjugations. The students also begin to develop a deeper understanding of language through making connections between the grammar and vocabulary of Latin and English. The successful fifth grade Latin student will be ready to start Unit 1 of the Cambridge Latin Course in sixth grade.


Minimus: Starting out in Latin; Cambridge University Press


Students begin Spanish I in fifth grade and complete this level at the end of sixth. In addition to their textbook, a variety of visual and auditory formats engage students in the learning process. Video, music, and art are all regular parts of the Spanish classroom. Additionally, the use of new technology and current Spanish media help to create a fun, dynamic, and practical learning environment.

Castilian Spanish is the language of instruction, preparing students early to understand advanced literature and European culture. Additionally, students are exposed to the diversity of the Spanish-speaking world by analyzing differences in speech, vocabulary, and especially culture as their Spanish skills progress. 

Students build on the vocabulary they learned in fourth grade and learn from explicit grammar instruction. Grammar concepts include:

  • infinitives;
  • negatives;
  • present tense;
  • adjectives;
  • articles;
  • and prepositions.

In addition to learning basic conversations and phrases, students learn vocabulary for a variety of situations, some of which include:

  • introducing oneself, greetings, and goodbyes;
  • telling the time, day, and date; 
  • talking about the weather; expressing likes and dislikes; 
  • talking about school life and activities outside of school;
  • talking about foods, health, and exercise choices;
  • talking about locations in a community.

Students act out dialogues, work in groups, read short texts, begin their first Spanish novel, and play communicative games. In addition to the textbook, students learn from other resources, such as interactive technology programs, audio recordings, and DVDs. By the end of their fifth grade year, all students are speaking and understanding Spanish.

Realidades, Level 1A, Prentice Hall


Fifth grade students work in many mediums to create projects that build abstract and independent thinking skills and frequently connect with other curriculums. Past examples include:

  • the creation of large ceramic canopic jars in the likenesses of traditional human and animal figures (a connection to their ancient Egypt studies); 
  • insect sculptures of wire and hardware findings; 
  • experiments with mixed media, combining watercolor with pen and ink, to create large images of birds after studying the elephant folios of John James Audubon;
  • watercolor and fabric collages with interwoven stories based of the quilts of Faith Ringgold.

To learn about perspective, they view the work of Romare Bearden before creating a cityscape drawing.


Students in Grade 5 continue their music education through participation in Band or Chorus.

Physical Education

Through active participation students learn to play cooperatively with one another, stay physically fit, and develop the skills needed to take part in sports. Along with those goals each student grows individually and gains an appreciation and love of all kinds of movement. We are striving for active students, but--more importantly--we are striving for active lifetime participants. 

The program builds upon the sports skills learned in the fourth grade and introduces more advanced skills needed for traditional game play. Students work to improve their individual skills so that they may be active players during game situations. During these games we emphasize sportsmanship and teamwork. The sports covered include basketball, field hockey, flag football, floor hockey, lacrosse, softball, soccer, team handball, track, and volleyball. 

At the conclusion of each sport, students take a written test to assess their knowledge of the rules and game strategies. Fitness continues to be a large part of the curriculum. A fitness booklet is used to assess, monitor, and set goals for throughout the year. Heart rate monitors provide data on individual heart rates and level of exertion.