Ms Triggiano’s 5th Grade Welcome Letter
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Fifth grade is often referred to as the “Golden Year.” Eleven year olds are perfectly poised between two worlds: childhood and dawning adolescence. They can be equally comfortable maneuvering both arenas, one minute playing with favorite toys, the next demanding some teenage privilege. New capacities are being born and it is common to get glimpses of what the child will become in the future. Fifth graders are generally excited about taking on new challenges, ask lots of stimulating questions and enjoy social interactions. They will be stepping onto the third floor with the “big kids.” Surrounded by the middle school students, they will get glimpses of what lies ahead. The curriculum is beautifully designed to speak to this developmental stage through the rich mythological stories from some of the most famous ancient cultures. The class also studies botany, North American geography and has an introduction to decimals and geometry. All the special subjects intertwine the themes of this golden year, with a major highpoint culminating in the Pentathlon. This wonderful event, unique to Waldorf schools, allows the fifth graders to test physical strength, balance, agility and grace. They will spend much of their gym classes practicing long jump, running, wrestling and how to throw a discus and a javelin. The emphasis will be on developing skill and also on performing with beauty, a true Greek ideal. Each child must stand on his/her own and compete as an individual, a foreshadowing of the growing independence that accompanies adolescence.
Two botany blocks, one in the autumn and one in the spring, provide an excellent opportunity for the children to observe how plants change during the seasons. The class will explore how plants are the same and different from human beings and animals and will learn about their intimate relationship to insects. The blocks will include the study mushrooms algae, mosses, lichen, horsetails, ferns, grasses, nutritional grains and various types of trees.
Language Arts - Ancient Civilizations
Beginning with ancient India, the class will hear creation myths and classic stories from Persia, Babylon, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece. The adventures of many famous heroes, gods and goddesses will provide the students with a framework for exploring serious questions about humanity, mortality, good and evil. The final story will lead the class out of mythology and into history with the biography of Alexander the Great.
An introduction to decimals is the new material for 5th grade. The relationship between fractions and decimals will offer a strong foundation for the work. The class will work with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of decimals throughout the year.
In the geometry block, the children will explore the forms of the circle, ellipse, square, triangle, rectangle, parallelogram and trapezoid. The class will be introduced to simple angles and perimeter, diameter and circumference measurements. They will hear the story of Pythagoras and his famous theorem.
North American Geography
The geography blocks will explore landscape of North America with a focus on comparing and contrasting terrains from different regions of the continent. Major lakes, rivers, mountains and deserts will be learned, as well as all the U. S. states’ positions. There will be a detailed look at various Native American cultures and their close connection to the land, their hunting and farming practices, types of shelters, family customs and interactions with the early settlers. There will be stories that connect famous individuals to specific regions, including Lewis and Clark’s grand adventure in the west.