Fifth graders generally have achieved skill levels in basic academic and artistic work that allow them to meet new challenges with enthusiasm and energy. Physically, their bodies move with balance, grace, and agility. The harmony and integration of the child at this age will soon be challenged by the demands of adolescence. The fifth grade curriculum meets this golden age through a balance of academic, artistic, and movement work.
The stories and cultures of India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece are taken up this year. Students study geography and how the landscapes of these places have influenced ancient civilizations. The year culminates with the study of ancient Greece, representing an appreciation for the balance between physical skill and beauty, art and science, earthly life and ideals. In the spring the children participate in a five-event Greek Pentathlon with students from other schools inspired by Waldorf education. This competition involves the discus, javelin, wrestling, long jump, and running, and is held in the same spirit of truth and beauty that the Greeks initiated.
The focus of botany at this age lies in the balance between scientific observation, and an appreciation for the poetic qualities of the plant world’s beauty.
Fifth graders are enthusiastic about learning, eager for new challenges, and capable of hard work and creativity. They stand perfectly balanced at a point in their development that places them at ease in the world, harmonious in themselves and in their environment.
Language Arts: Writing, speaking, reading, and grammar are key elements of Language Arts instruction. Spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and the use of active and passive voice are included. Several class readers are explored and studied which enrich the geography, social studies, and history blocks.
Math: More work with fractions and the introduction of decimals as another form of fractions are a mainstay of the Fifth Grade curriculum. The class is also introduced to the coordinate plane and the metric system. The students begin a relationship to geometric forms by drawing them by hand without the use of any tools, striving for accuracy and beauty.
Science: Botany is the main scientific study, with emphasis on photosynthesis, categories of plants from fungi to flowering plants, experiments and observation of the growth process, and the world’s climate zones. The Next Generation Science Standards guide all lessons in order to help the 5th grade student gain a better understanding of the world around them.
History and Social Studies: Ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, India, and Greece take a major role in the Fifth Grade curriculum. Language, culture, customs, major historical figures, epic stories, and technological inventions are studied. From the beginnings of civilization to the end of Ancient History with Alexander the Great, the class learns about the contributions of each culture.
Geography: Geography of North America and particularly the United States is studied in two separate blocks. Land forms such as major mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, and plains are identified, located on maps, and researched. The impact of geography on a region’s economy is a major component of study.
Music: Singing is a daily activity and four-part harmony is practiced. Music instruction continues with violin lessons, as well as, reading musical notation.
Art: Drawing, painting, origami, geometric drawing, and clay modeling make up part of every week. Artistic work is integral to every academic block and pervades the curriculum.
Handwork: The craft of knitting is taken up again after being learned in first grade, and now reappears with the instruction of knitting socks on four needles. Following instructions in a pattern, using different stitches, and correcting mistakes are all part of this weekly class.
Movement: With the child at the pinnacle of physical grace and balance, the Fifth Grade participates with many other schools in a “Greek Pentathlon”. This contest is one in which grace, beauty, form, and sportsmanship are lauded along with individual achievements of speed or accuracy.