Three seated students with paper notes work on iPads

Grade 5 Curriculum

Fifth grade students are the leaders of the lower school at Belmont Day. Students at this age put tremendous physical, emotional, and cognitive energy into all that they do—whether it is writing in-depth reports about about activists, or mentoring second grade buddies. This is a time for discovering and exploring interests and passions as well as for developing a growing independence and sense of self. The fifth grade program helps students meet increasing academic demands by teaching students skills to organize information, set priorities, and develop strategies for reaching their academic goals—preparing them well for middle school.

Program Highlights

  • Fifth grade play
  • Second grade buddies
  • Migration study to and through the U.S.
  • Design and 3D- print an assistive device
  • Make a BrainPOP movie about muscles
  • Winter coat drive leadership
  • Field Lab: Freedom Trail

Specialist Time

  • World language twice a week for 45 minutes
  • Arts four times a week for 45 minutes: music, visual art, theater arts, and woodworking
  • Tech class 90 minutes a week for one trimester
  • DEI Seminar 45 minutes a week for one trimester
  • Physical education four times a week for 50 minutes
  • Health and wellness 45 minutes a week for one trimester

Grade 5 Subjects

  • English
    Two students sitting in the Erskine Library wearing headphones and working

    The fifth grade humanities program fosters student enjoyment of literature and provides rich experiences for students to become fluent readers and researchers. A variety of quality texts expand students’ vocabulary, promote literal, inferential, and evaluative reasoning, and develop students’ word recognition skills and comprehension. Students are taught in both whole class and small groups and receive direct instruction. Teaching techniques are student-centered and encourage higher-order thinking skills. Large or small group activities may include: hands-on activities, role-playing, debates, creative projects, oral and silent reading, discussion, research, and analyzing primary documents.


    Our fifth grade students will:

    • identify and summarize the main idea
    • identify supporting detail
    • recognize and understand literary elements: character, setting, conflict, resolution, point of view, cause and effect
    • recognize and understand figurative language: simile, metaphor, personification, symbolism
    • recognize style and tone
    • analyze words and extend vocabulary
    • develop word recognition skills and comprehension strategies
    • develop literal, inferential, and evaluative reasoning
    • organize and sequence events
    • differentiate fact from opinion
    • compare and contrast information
    • participate in Socratic seminars

    Class Books:

    • Summer reading: changes each year
    • Morning Girl
    • The Arrival
    • Esperanza Rising


    The fifth grade writing program is designed to develop students’ skills as writers and organized thinkers. Students engage in grammar and spelling intensives. One semester is focused on grammar; the second on spelling. They review and are introduced to new spelling patterns and grammar terms. Students use their writer’s notebooks for creative writing assignments, including poetry, individual free-writing, and classroom assignments. They practice their writing in a variety of ways such as through independent and in-class assignments, editing exercises, and written assignments from various subject areas. The fifth grade research paper on an important activist is a major project. Time is spent on each step of the research paper process: writing introductions and conclusions, gathering information, and organizing information using an outline. Students then write a rough draft, planning transitions between paragraphs. The editing process involves individual editing, working with a peer, and working with a teacher to identify areas for improvement based on rubrics the students develop themselves.

    Our students will:

    • see themselves as writers
    • use writing as a form of communication for a variety of purposes and audiences
    • express themselves clearly and confidently through writing
    • understand that good writing is a recursive process consisting of planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing
    • use strategies for monitoring their learning and getting help
    • use the mechanics of writing (e.g., grammar, punctuation, usage, spelling) in order to construct meaning
    • expand their vocabulary
    • share writing and receive feedback
    • organize and sequence ideas
    • write in different genres
    • understand and demonstrate the process for writing research papers

    Listening and Speaking

    Through small and large group discussions, conversations, role-playing, oral reports, presentation of projects, weekly class meetings, and assemblies the students develop skills in listening attentively, comprehending and retaining information, and presenting ideas to a group.

    Our students will:

    • develop clear and logical oral expression and reasoning
    • develop clear articulation
    • develop appropriate voice modulation in a variety of situations
    • develop appropriate ways to speak to others
    • demonstrate attentive listening
    • retain oral information
    • demonstrate self-confidence in a variety of speaking situations
    • learn to record information given orally

  • Math
    A boy works on a math problem at his desk

    The fifth grade math curriculum emphasizes the development of students’ confidence in their own mathematical abilities along with their skills as competent problem solvers. The math program also encourages students to communicate mathematically through reading, writing, and discussion of mathematical issues.

    Our students will:

    • pursue open-ended problems and extended problem-solving projects
    • investigate and formulate questions from problem situations
    • represent situations verbally, numerically, graphically, geometrically, or symbolically
    • discuss write, read, and listen to mathematical ideas
    • reason in spatial contexts from graphs
    • reason inductively and deductively
    • connect mathematics to other subjects and the world outside the classroom
    • connect topics within mathematics
    • apply mathematics
    • develop number and operational sense
    • create algorithms and procedures
    • explore relationships among operations on whole numbers, fractions, and decimals
    • develop and uses tables, graphs, and rules to describe situations
    • develop an understanding of geometric objects and relationships
    • uses geometry in solving problems
    • estimate and use measurement to solve problems

    Topics of study:

    • Problem solving
    • Place value
    • Whole number operations
    • Number properties
    • Decimals: operations and rounding
    • The coordinate plane, graphing points, and classifying 2D-shapes
    • Fractions
    • Measurement: volume of cubes and rectangular prisms

  • Social Studies

    The fifth grade humanities curriculum focuses on immigration to the United States—the history and story of the journey of immigrants and the treatment people encountered before, during and after immigrating. Students will discuss, analyze, reflect, and write about how perspective impacts the ways that people think, feel, and act. They will investigate how people are categorized or identified and the impact of that identification. Studying and examining history through multiple perspectives and experiences provides opportunities for students to practice important thinking and analyzing skills. Lessons will prime students for the rigorous text critique and analysis they will do in middle school, as well as increase their capacity to honor and value differences.

    Social Studies

    Our fifth grade students will:

    • identify specific people and places affected by history
    • understand the impact historic events have had on a variety of cultures and traditions
    • understand how history affects and influences current events
    • develop independent interest in social studies
    • develop research, observation, map use, reading, writing, and study skills
    • strengthen their sense of belonging and responsibility to a community
    • broaden their understanding of and appreciation for human differences: religious, cultural, physical, social, emotional, intellectual, and generational
    • appreciate cultures in various periods of history by viewing artifacts and art
    • learn other points of view through literature, first-hand accounts, and reference materials
    • identify and understand stereotypes, bias, discrimination, prejudice, and other cultural misunderstandings in history
    • understand why people migrate and the effects on indigenous peoples and environments
    • complete and present research projects successfully

    Topics of study:


    • The Tainos and Christopher Columbus

    • Ellis Island

    • Angel Island

    • Mexican Revolution

  • Science
    Two fifth graders stand together to build an adaptive device

    The fifth grade science program provides opportunities for students to practice the scientific skills of observation, hypothesis formation, experimentation, and drawing conclusions. Students work individually, with partners, and in small groups. The students receive direct instruction and complete projects and experiments. The program is designed to increase student knowledge about the systems of the body and to have students discover their personal learning styles. The students are encouraged to ask questions, seek answers, and practice good laboratory methods.

    Our fifth grade students will:

    • name the body systems
    • learn the parts and functions of body systems
    • increase their knowledge about their bodies and how to care for them
    • discover their personal learning style
    • learn how the mind works
    • learn to record data and observations
    • design and 3D print an assistive device

    Topics of study:

    • Systems of the human body, including skeletal and muscular, digestive, circulatory, respiratory, and reproductive
    • Assistive technology for people with physical disabilities
    • The brain and different types of learners and learning differences

  • World Language
    boy in class

    Language, Community, and Culture

    The world language program develops general language skills, intellectual discipline, and the vocabulary, grammar, and basics that allow students to continue language studies at an advanced level in high school. We support the development of our students as citizens in the diverse community of Belmont Day and in the world. Exposure to broad cultural experiences nurture curiosity and joy.

    In the fall the fifth grade program focuses on broad questions: What is language? How is language acquired? How does language evolve? Who makes up the rules for language? What constitutes culture? and conduct research on what cultures are represented in our own families and in the broader school community. Students also learn about the history of French and Spanish. Class activities include lively discussions and group activities, slide presentations and video clips. This section is called Celebrating Community and students learn about different cultures by interviewing members of the school community and conducting research with CultureGrams.

    In April, students have an introductory course on French, Spanish, and Latin to prepare them for formal study of a language in middle school. The focus is on listening and speaking skills. Topics include conversational questions and answers about names, ages, emotions, where we live, and what we like. We learn vocabulary for sports, other hobbies, and foods. Students take part actively in class every day. They create short prepared oral presentations and are introduced to basic information about many French and Spanish speaking countries.

    Our students will:

    • be able to engage in meaningful discussion about the topics related to the question: what is language?
    • have a basic understanding of how and why language evolves
    • demonstrate a general understanding of the history of English, French, and Spanish
    • grasp how English, French, Spanish, and Latin relate to each other as Indo-European languages
    • demonstrate appreciation for basic Latin vocabulary
    • develop basic communication skills in either French or Spanish
    • practice conversation with the correct pronunciation
    • be posed for success in the sixth to eighth grade language program

  • Visual Arts
    A boy works on a loom project in the art studio

    Students in fifth grade continue to explore a wide variety of materials and processes. As they engage in the world of visual expression, students learn about artistic concepts such as color, shape, texture, contrast, form, and pattern. They draw, sculpt, paint, print, and combine materials to create two and three-dimensional artworks. As students design and develop their artworks, they explore self-expression and connections between visual art, nature, daily life, other artists, and cultures.

    Fifth graders create their own sketchbooks in which they draw from observation and their imagination. Student art making experiences build upon the skills and techniques investigated in lower school and combine materials in new ways. Exploring with color, design, and the intersection of art and math, tessellations are a highlight of the fifth grade studio experience.

    Past fifth grade art projects include:

    • tessellations inspired by M. C. Escher
    • relief block printing
    • clay storage cubes
    • counter-repousse
    • molas
    • painting scenery for class performing arts production

  • Music
    A boy playing the clarinet

    The fifth grade music program is organized into units that introduce students to jazz and hip-hop. Every student learns about jazz history and artists from its very beginnings to modern jazz. Fifth grade students conduct a research project that includes singing and performing a song of an artist they have studied. Every student also learns about hip hop history and artists from the 80’s to now. A culminating activity is an EP release showcase of students performing their original song that incorporates loops, rap verses, and album cover art.

    Our fifth grade students will: 

    • Learn about various types of jazz such as ragtime, swing, bebop, modal, and contemporary
    • Learn about various artists such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Scott Joplin, and Dizzy Gillespie
    • Learn the basics of scatting, 12 bar blues, and constructing major and minor 7th chords
    • Research and perform a jazz standard of their choice
    • Perform songs with rounds and two part harmony for the Winter Concert
    • Learn about the five strands of hip hop: DJing MCing, B-boying, graffiti, and fashion
    • Learn about various artists who shaped hip-hop including DJ Kool Herc, Tupac, Biggie, MC Lyte, Eminem, and Beastie Boys
    • Compose original hip hop loops using online softwares
    • Compose rap lyrics based on the study of rhyme scheme and cultural refernces
    • Perform their original songs and produce their original track

  • Theater Arts
    Two fifth grade actors on stage

    In fifth grade students build on the fundamental skills of theatricality they acquired in fourth grade. They continue to practice public speaking skills gained in previous years while also learning to use the podium and microphone. Through the use of drama games, creative movement, poetry, and theatrical critique, students continue to expand upon their theater arts skills. Students will continue to explore the devised theater process in the classroom setting. In addition, students take part in the fifth grade production, and are tasked to learn lines and lyrics, develop a strong character, acquire choreographic moves, and help with the creation of costumes and sets.

    Our fifth grade students will:

    • apply elements of the devised theater process in a classroom setting
    • further expand their theatrical vocabulary
    • utilize physical expression techniques (with focus on Rudolf Laban methodology)
    • learn the difference between poetry and prose in Shakespeare’s plays and how this informs character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
    • build upon previously learned improvisation skills to create and perform dramatic events and characters
    • continue to build their confidence as an orator and presenter

  • Woodworking and 21st Century Skills
    Two students in the woodworking studio sanding projects

    The fifth grade woodworking session is designed to improve problem-solving skills and foster independent thinking. Projects encourage students to think creatively and flexibly in order to address the challenges presented to them. The process emphasizes communication, collaboration, and positive group dynamics. A combination of woodworking skills and engineering design instruction is provided.

    Our students will:

    • draws plans for projects
    • discuss plans and outcomes of projects
    • measure accurately
    • develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills
    • follow a process from design drawing to a finished project
    • collaborate with team members

  • Physical Education
    Three girls in the gymnasium during PE class

    Fifth grade students participate in the intramural athletics program, which introduces athletes to a variety of sports while encouraging positive risk-taking and good sportsmanship. Following the middle school model of independence, choice, and responsibility, students are given the opportunity to select which sport they would like to focus on in each season. During these extended units, students develop their sport-specific skills, learn game strategies, and compete against their peers. To round out their athletic experience, students also participate in cooperative games, team-building activities, and fitness challenges.

    Sports offered:

    • Fall: soccer, field hockey, flag football, cross country
    • Winter: basketball, badminton, fencing, dance
    • Spring: lacrosse, tennis, track and field, ultimate frisbee

    Fifth Grade athletes will:

    • compete actively and extend their personal limits
    • increase their strength, stamina, and agility
    • acquire sport-specific skills and knowledge
    • learn how to work within a team setting
    • appreciate the school’s six core values

  • Social Competency and Health and Wellness
    Two boys work together

    The fifth grade social competency and health and wellness curriculum provides an opportunity for students to learn about structures and importance of community, personal relationships, and healthy individual choices. Students learn about eating and exercising to maintain healthy bodies, and they explore the topics of friendships and the physical and emotional changes that happen during puberty.

    Note: Some elements of the fifth grade health and wellness curriculum are part of the fifth grade science curriculum.

    Our fifth grade students will:

    • learn the elements of positive social skills: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, self-control, and empathy
    • discover the similarities and differences in people in terms of needs, emotions, and cultures
    • respect and care for their own body
    • show respect for all community members through the use of respectful language, actions, and attitudes
    • follow classroom expectations
    • develop negotiating skills
    • learn conflict resolution skills
    • demonstrate the elements of being a good friend
    • communicate feelings and ideas
    • display leadership skills
    • understand how to be an upstander and an ally and the effects of bullying
    • learn male/female reproductive anatomy and physiology
    • learn about the human life cycle: puberty, fetal development, and infant development
    • develop positive self esteem/self image
    • develop listening skills

    Topics of study:

    Social Competency

    • Community building
    • Classroom expectations
    • Negotiation skills
    • Conflict resolution
    • Qualities of a good friend
    • Emotional communication
    • Leadership skills

    Health and Wellness

    • Reproductive anatomy and physiology
    • Human life cycle
    • Self esteem/self image
    • Self-care: hygiene, stress relief, personal choices
    • Respecting differences

  • Focus

    Focus class is a student support period providing students with additional academic support to increase confidence and success in the classroom.

    In fifth grade, the Focus curriculum follows along with grade-level content in math, language arts, social studies, and science classes. There is a balance between providing remediation in key foundational skills and reviewing and previewing current topics. A strong emphasis is placed on math fact fluency, writing mechanics, approaching multi-step tasks and long-term projects, as well as study skills for tests and quizzes.

    Examples of topics covered in fifth grade Focus:

    • identifying the main idea and supporting details in text
    • making inferences and drawing conclusions
    • developing vocabulary-building strategies and note-taking skills
    • using mental math strategies to improve math facts in the four operations
    • creating a model to solve problems with two or more steps
    • identifying and comparing fractions, finding equivalent fractions, adding and subtracting fractions with like and unlike denominators, and multiplying and dividing fractions
    • developing time management, planning, and organizing skills
    • developing homework strategies

  • Information Literacy and Technology

    At Belmont Day, the technology department strives to infuse 21st century learning tools into each classroom. Students have access to Apple laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks, exposing them to different platforms and applications. In seventh and eighth grades, students are provided with 1:1 Chromebooks, allowing for seamless integration of technology across all subject areas. Google Apps for Education provide valuable, interactive tools for faculty and allow students to access their work anytime, anywhere.

    Belmont Day’s middle school technology curriculum is centered in the IMPACT Lab, a collaborative workspace tailored to serve students as they embark on a wide range of learning experiences, including: designing and printing 3D objects; programming with Scratch or JavaScript; developing iPad game apps; linking computers to objects in the physical world using Makey Makeys; building and programming Lego robots; and problem solving and brainstorming.

Our Teachers

Scroll to Top
Giving Day 2023 logo

It’s BDS Giving Day—help us reach 225 gifts in 24 hours!