Fifth grade marks a pivotal point in the curriculum. While the students begin the year with studies of the mythologies of several ancient cultures, they transition away from mythology into history with the biography of Alexander the Great. They will wrestle with ethical question of his “Great”-ness. They also continue to hone their research and presentation skills with an independent project. Botany and Geometry present students the opportunity to explore the wonder and beauty of the world around us through mathematical and scientific lenses.
The fifth grader is confident, enthusiastic and capable of doing increasingly challenging academic and artistic work. This is frequently considered a “golden year” in which the child exhibits a definite harmonious quality before becoming saddled with the challenges of adolescence. The fifth grader also has an increasing understanding of personal responsibility and a growing awakening to the larger idea of ethics.
In fifth grade, the study of ancient history begins in ancient India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. Students study the creation of written languages, read translations of ancient poetry, study hieroglyphics, recreate the building of temples and pyramids as models, and incorporate ancient art into their own artistic work. Grammar lessons are incorporated into these themes and verb tenses are introduced in compositions. By contrast, the children will study American geography and economic relationships among people living in various regions. A natural extension of geography is botany, where students learn about the relationship of the plants to the earth and sun and how they change in the course of the year. In the mathematics blocks, the students will review fractions, learn about fractional equivalents, mixed numbers, reciprocals, improper fractions, decimals and decimal place. In addition, the children begin free-hand geometric drawing. In the world language program, the children hold short dialogues and give short talks, which include descriptive language. The students may study a Sanskrit poem and learn to speak and write Greek phrases. The fine and practical arts program will include clay modeling, carving, knitting socks, drawing geometric forms and watercolor painting. Physical education will include eurythmy as well as participation in a pentathlon. In music, the children now choose an instrument to play in the upper grade orchestra, in addition to playing recorder and singing.