Grade 5 Curriculum

Language Arts in fifth grade begins with the book Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea. Students work on the skill of making inferences to understand a character’s perspective. The second novel is The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder; students analyze the author’s use of foreshadowing as a literary technique. Students also read Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. Finally, the students read Sophia’s War by Avi. As students read, they are exposed to vivid descriptive language and complex vocabulary. This historical work of fiction connects to the social studies unit on the American Revolution. As students read each book, they engage in conversations, complete comprehension questions, and answer writing prompts. After finishing each novel, students complete a final creative project.

The writing curriculum is based on the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing program; this approach teaches students to focus on the traits of: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation to improve their narrative and creative writing. Grammar is taught using the Framing Your Thoughts program. Students develop mastery of identifying the parts of speech of words in a sentence. Students are assigned spelling units from the Houghton Mifflin Spelling and Vocabulary: Words for Readers and Writers program. The word lists are organized by spelling principles, patterns, and word parts.

The fifth grade math curriculum includes the following topics: multiplication, factoring, fractions, graphs, decimals, division, and geometry. For multiplication, students work on determining partial products to multiply multi-digit numbers. Students distinguish between composite and prime numbers and utilize divisibility rules to write the prime factorization of numbers. For fractions and decimals, students compare rational numbers and start to add, subtract, and multiply them. Students learn how to interpret data from graphs and create their own scatter plots from given information. When developing the division algorithm, students use their understanding of multiplication and area models to determine partial quotients. In our geometry unit, students explore the attributes of two-dimensional shapes and three-dimensional solids, and determine how to find area, perimeter, surface area, and volume.

In the fall, fifth grade science students practice their lab skills to calculate the length, mass, volume, temperature, and weight of objects in metric units. They also look at the differences between qualitative and quantitative observations and carry out conversions between metric units for mass, volume, and length. Students apply their knowledge of physical and chemical changes to real-world situations and identify the type of change present in their lab observations. Near the end of the trimester, students build simple machines and explain their importance in everyday life.  

In the spring, fifth graders examine the steps of the Scientific Method and apply their knowledge to complete various experiments as well as conduct a scientific inquiry project for a science fair. At the end of the year, students delve into earth science, examining the three main layers of the earth and the theory of continental drift. They also unearth properties of rocks and minerals and look at the natural processes that shape Earth’s surface.

In fifth grade social studies, students learn about ancient cultures as well as the foundations of American History. A variety of assessments such as creative writing assignments, analysis of primary sources, and project-based learning are used to determine student comprehension and progress. Students also read novels that are connected to the social studies units to deepen their appreciation for the historical time period. During the first semester, students analyze the most important ancient civilizations such as Sumer, Babylon and Egypt. Students determine why these places were so successful and the inventions that helped them thrive. The remainder of the year is spent studying the founding of the American colonies and the events that led to the American Revolution. Students explore the town of Marblehead as an example of colonial America’s role in the revolution.


Using the Tal-Am curriculum, students in fifth grade Hebrew read stories to work on reading comprehension, vocabulary development, and grammar. Student also write about the text they read and act out short stories/skits using the new vocabulary to strengthen conversational skills with new words and phrases. Students learn to write and speak in both the present and past tense and have multiple creative writing assignments. Students use the Hebrew online program, “Ivrit Beclick” to complement their vocabulary and conversational skills in their creative writing assignments.


During Torah studies, fifth grade students explore the book of Shemot (Exodus),  which covers the main events in the life of Moshe and following the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Students are assigned a special project about ancient Egypt to help them better understand Egyptian culture, which complements much of the simultaneous teachings in fifth grade social studies.


Students experience community tefillah twice a week with the school rabbi and rosh ruach (song leader). Music is used to enhance students’ spiritual experience connecting their hearts and minds. Students learn the keva (structure) of the Shacharit (morning prayer service) and explore pathways to deepen kavana (intentionality).  Students also participate in a Torah service and discuss the weekly reading as well as other sacred texts. Students explore neighboring synagogues to experience prayers in different settings.


In Jewish Studies, students deepen their understanding of Jewish holidays and their historical, natural/agricultural, and faith-based foundation. They learn how our customs and traditions enrich and strengthen them as individuals within our Jewish community. Prayers and blessings related to the holidays are recited and Hebrew stories connected to the Jewish holidays are studied.


Students develop a meaningful relationship with Israel through personal connections with language, people, places, and events. As an ancient land and modern state, we teach our students that Israel is a home for diverse and vibrant expressions of Judaism. Through our cutting-edge Hebrew language curriculum, experiential programs, and Israeli young emissaries (Shinshinim), our students engage with Israel at all grade levels and feel a deep connection to their homeland.

The goal of our music program is for students to become skillful and enthusiastic music makers, encouraging music literacy, participation and performance. Through classical and contemporary music, students learn to sing in-tune with expression and confidence while gaining confidence on stage. They read music and play several instruments including ukuleles and drums. Students also explore music composition using technology such as Garage Band. Music is integrated across the curriculum as students sing and perform to enhance understanding of subjects from social studies to Judaics.

Students work with a variety of drawing tools and multiple types of paints and papers in sophisticated ways. Students learn techniques for drawing, painting, printmaking, and collage. Within each grade level, elements of art such as line, shape, form, color, texture, value, and space are taught. Emphasis is put on the creative process rather than the finished product. Art history is an important component of our curriculum; students study different artists and art movements from past to present. Some movements that may be included are: Impressionism, Abstract, Folk and Pop Art. Throughout the year, art is integrated with units of study in the classroom and teachers work collaboratively on skills and concepts to deepen learning.

In fifth grade students learn and practice debate skills, along with speaking skills such as diction and projection. Students then apply these skills to presentations throughout the year. Fifth graders also continue creating characters and bringing them to life physically and through the creation of improvised and written scenes. Throughout the cultural and performing arts curriculum, fifth graders continue to work together as a team to create scenes, mini-plays, and improvised scenes; students begin to create scenes based around props. Students are introduced to Shakespeare; his monologues are used to bring together presentation skills with character work, feedback, and direction from the teacher and peers.

Students in physical education participate in sports education, teamwork, physical fitness activities and in game strategy in class. In addition to gross and fine motor coordination, stretching and agility, middle school students are taught age appropriate sports skills and team communication through drills as well as sports strategy. Units include soccer, flag football, team strategy games, floor hockey, ultimate frisbee, individual problem solving games and basketball. Social team building and sportsmanship skills are woven into game like scenarios to teach students not only the skills to play multiple sports, but the interpersonal skills to function in a fast paced team environment.