Fifth grade is referred to as the “golden year” because students at this age are enthusiastic about learning, eager for new challenges and capable of hard work and creativity. Even in the social arena, they display a harmony that will soon be transformed by the pending complexities of the adolescent years.
In the Language Arts and History curriculum students study ancient civilizations including India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. Students hear the mythologies of these cultures and discuss their philosophies of creation, life and death, and religion. Working with early forms of writing, geometry and architecture, students experience some of the roots of modern culture. They write detailed reviews of the stories, short independent essays and take longer dictation. They continued to work with grammar principles, spelling, vocabulary development and research skills.
Fifth grade also marks an important learning transition from mythology to History. Through study of the ancient Greeks, students develop an appreciation for the balance between skill and beauty, art and science, earthly life and spirituality. The year ends with the biography of Alexander the Great, marking a shift from the mythology of gods to a compelling story based on historical facts of a human leader engaged in an epic quest of self-determination.
In Math, decimal notation using the four operations is introduced. There is continued practice with fractions, multi-digit problem solving and word problems. The students also practice and explore freehand geometry. In Science students study botany to investigate concepts like the connection between beauty, facility and nature; to enhance their awareness of the natural world; and make connections between scientific observation and appreciation of plant biology and its functional architectures.
In Geography students examine how and why people live and work in specific regions. In their study of North American geography, they discuss relationships between soil, landscape and location. Their further exploration of Native American history and culture includes study of the Native American's practical, cultural and spiritual relationship to the land. Students select one of the United States to profile. They write a research paper and give a verbal presentation on its history and defining characteristics.
A highlight of fifth grade is the Greek Pentathlon. During the year, students prepare for the five events (discus, javelin, wrestling, long jump and running) in weekly gym class. In the Spring, they compete with students from other mid-West region Waldorf schools in a day-long celebratory event dedicated to athleticism and individual excellence. This is the culmination of the students' individualism before they enter, in 6th grade, the new dynamics of team-based sports.
Main Learning Objectives
- Main Lesson Skills: Personal/Academic Responsibility & Punctuality with Deadlines
- Language Arts: Ancient Civilizations, Independent Writing, Reading, Grammar
- Mathematics: Decimals, Freehand Geometry
- Sciences: Botany
- Geography: North American Geography, Native American Cultures
- Art: Painting, Drawing, Modeling
- Foreign Language: German and Spanish
- Handwork: Four Needle Knitting
- Music: Band or Orchestra, Singing
- Gym: Five events training for the Pentathlon: discus, javelin, long jump, wrestling, running
- Eurythmy: Balance and synchronous movement
- Write rough drafts; present & incorporate revisions to book reports and research papers.
- Study take home math sheets and prepare for weekly spelling tests
- Memorize in depth their lines and actions for parts in the grade play & public performances
- Practice music for string instruments (Violin, Viola, Cello or Bass)