5th Grade

5th grade bridges the gap between elementary and middle school.  A strong emphasis is placed on students owning and taking responsibility for their learning.  Executive functioning skills such as time management, note-taking strategies, and organization are key fundamentals emphasized throughout the year. Students further their ability to read for the specific purpose of gaining information and develop critical thinking skills and learn how to use a variety of resources.  During 5th grade students also begin their Spanish language studies and participate their first overnight retreat.   Environmental awareness & responsibility is interwoven throughout the curriculum, through their studies, service and retreats.  The 5th grade classrooms are located in the middle school wing of the building.  Students have lockers for their belongings, and have an opportunity to become familiar with middle school routines.


In 5th grade, students will continue to build important reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills. They will read more challenging literature, articles, other sources of information, and continue to expand their vocabulary. Students will also be expected to understand and clearly summarize what they have learned from readings and classroom discussions, siting specific evidence and details from the text. Students will write regularly and continue to develop their ability to gather, organize, interpret, and present information.


In 5th grade, students will build on understanding of place value by working with decimals up to the hundredths place. Students will also add, subtract, and multiply fractions. They will continue to expand their geometry and measurement skills, learning the concept of volume and measuring the volume of a solid figure.


5th grade science uses the Next Generations Science Standards, with focus on four main standards:

  • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems
  • Earth’s Systems
  • Space Systems: Stars and the Solar System

FOSS science kits are used to teach these science skills.   5th grade places a strong emphasis on the environment and respect for the earth throughout all curriculum, and many classroom themes integrate science topics as well.  Outdoor field trips reinforce these concepts, including the signature 5th grade experience: 2 nights of environmental camp at the North Cascades Institute.

Social Studies

The focus in 5th grade social studies is the development of the United States up to 1791.  Students draw upon their understanding of cause and effect relationships to explore the history of our nation.  Civics, economics and geography are studied to understand the ideals, principles, and systems that shaped our country’s founding. Students apply and relate this information to current issues today. As students build their understanding of social studies concepts, they are encouraged to examine their role in our community, state, nation, and world.



5th grade religion helps students grow in faith through prayer, study, and service. A strong emphasis is placed on the Sacraments and how we live them in our lives.  Students learn to navigate through the books of the Bible and learn how to cite Bible passages. 5th graders also study the Saints, develop their own prayers, and create their own images of God. Through their religion classes, prayer and their experiences in this strong faith community, students have the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with God.



Students start taking Spanish in 5th grade.  The teaching method we use is Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS).  Therefore, on the first day of class 5th graders begin learning vocabulary in context.  Our focus is depth rather than breadth; students learn words really well and commit them to long term memory.  We start the year with students doing actions for all of the vocab.  By second trimester students are reading short stories entirely in Spanish, and as their confidence grows and they recognize more words, they begin to speak and write original stories in Spanish.  They learn the basic Spanish grammar concepts, such as gender use, verb forms, and differing sentence structures.  Additionally, they learn about Spanish-speaking cultures.  Students study the political boundaries and geography of South America and traditions surrounding several holidays. The first holiday that we learn about and celebrate is Día de los Muertos.  I expect students to speak aloud and participate in activities; however, I never want anyone to be uncomfortable with speaking in a new language, so we also work on building confidence, taking risks, and understanding how this helps us learn.


Drama uses a variety of artistic skills in the creative process including:  mime, improvisation, voice, movement, character development, directing, and performance. These skills are learned and developed in a variety of ways including drama games, activities and various performances. Drama is also integrated into other areas of the 5th grade classroom learning through our study of Native American celebrations.


In 5th grade music, students deepen their exploration all of elements of music: rhythm, melody, harmony, dynamics, timbre and form.  We emphasize singing (and playing instruments) in harmony, and on improving music reading skills.

Physical Education

In 5th grade, physical education instruction focuses on solidifying basic loco-motor movements, hand, foot, and eye coordination, and providing an introduction to basic team sports.  Students have PE twice a week and are evaluated based on their attitude, effort, and sportsmanship during class.

Environmental Camp Retreat

Students will attend 3 days of environmental camp at the Mountain Institute in North Cascades National Park.  This is a great extension for our earth education studies.  Click here for details on their campus and curriculum.

National Park Study

The defining project in 5th grade is the National Park Study.  Students select, research and become experts on one National Park for the entire year, becoming experts. All academic areas are incorporated into their Park research and knowledge base. This is an extensive research project where students research a national park of their choice.  This will take place throughout the year with a culminating Park Day at the end of May.


Students maintain a mini hatchery in the main entry of the school, raising salmon through their life cycle. Each spring they culminate their studies by releasing the fish into Lake Washington. The entire school appreciates the opportunity to observe the salmon grow and evolve.