Grade 5

About Our Grade 5 Program

Equipped with the cognitive and social-emotional skills acquired in prior grades, fifth graders, new to the Upper School, explore, discover, analyze and connect in new ways. Throughout the year, concepts of responsibility, freedom and agency are reinforced through a variety of cross-curricular projects and initiatives, encouraging students to expand their team building and leadership skills. Principles of growth mindset (thinking in terms of “not yet” instead “can’t”) provide fifth graders with the confidence to acknowledge their own opportunities for growth while celebrating the achievements of their classmates. The fifth grade curriculum inspires intellectual growth and equips our students with the knowledge, skills and resources required to develop into confident, capable young adults.

Classroom Communities

At Brookwood, teachers lay the foundations for strong class communities: expectations are shared, routines are established and rules are created in order to help all kids be their best. We devote the beginning weeks of school to practicing the skills needed to create and maintain a cooperative and collaborative environment. Classroom communities are created anew every September—each one unique and distinct, molded by the personalities and passions of its students and teachers—with the overarching goal of honoring all individuals as members of our broader, vibrant Brookwood community.

Building Relationships Across Grades

As part of our Personal Growth and Development (PGD) program, fifth graders meet with Kindergarten buddies regularly to foster a greater understanding of what it means to be an empathetic and responsible member of our school community. It is a wonderful opportunity for both the younger and older students to form relationships that last throughout their years at Brookwood.

Risk-Taking & Teamwork: Heron Cup Houses

Taking a page from Harry Potter, 5th graders are introduced to the Upper School House System and are sorted into one of ten constellation-themed Heron Cup Houses. These houses build connections and community by mixing students across grades. Houses eat lunch together once a week and participate in playful competitions that involve risk-taking, teamwork, and a healthy dose of team spirit.


Curriculum Overview


In fifth grade, students hone in on their mathematical and reasoning skills. The curriculum is designed to encourage fluency and efficiency with problem solving. Students learn the relationships among fractions, decimals and percents and convert with facility from one form to another. They deepen their knowledge of geometry by using known angle sizes to determine the sizes of other angles and calculating the perimeter and area of rectangles. Students also strengthen their data analysis skills by using decimals, fractions and percents to describe and compare the theoretical probabilities of events with a certain number of equally likely outcomes.


Fifth graders read and discuss literature with a focus on historical fiction. They also seek information and develop new concepts and ideas from reading, as well as provide specific examples and evidence to support class discussions about a text. They are encouraged to read independently books that offer “Windows and Mirrors” (a variety of cultures and perspectives) for their own experience. Students write in various genres using authors and texts as mentors. While writing, they learn to write more precise language and sentence variety, as well as revise and edit writing during and after composing.


Fifth grade is a multi-faceted year for science curriculum. Students explore living systems, research the history of science and engage in engineering challenges.  They investigate topics as varied marsh ecology and coding. All the while refining their science practices to make sense of a complex and interconnected world.

Social Studies

The fifth grade curriculum seeks to understand our historical roots and to locate ourselves in time, developing a historical perspective by examining the exploration of North America by world explorers. They learn that personal identity is shaped by one’s culture, by groups, and by institutional influences. Students also analyze the motivations for, and implications of, the movement of peoples to the United States, between the years 1880 and 1920. They also continue working on the development of research skills begun in fourth grade by producing a formal research paper.

World Language

In the fifth grade, students are exposed to more reading and writing in the target language while developing more proficiency with conversational skills.  They build on vocabulary and phrases learned in previous years to create their own sentences, read, and speak.  Students develop proficiency by the continual reinforcement of the content and ideas.

Music & Performing Arts

In fifth grade, students learn to sing in two part-harmonies, three part canons and sight-read SAT music. They also learn the history of the steel drums and perform five-part arrangements on the steel drums. Fifth graders read and perform complex rhythms using eighth and sixteenth notes, as well as write music using Garage Band.

Visual Arts

Fifth graders review and work with art elements and design concepts, with a specific focus on color and its use in drawing, painting, collage and mixed-media pieces. Students also continue to explore art making techniques around the globe, focusing on traditional art forms of different cultures. They are encouraged to look carefully to make connections. Peer feedback and formal critiques of student artwork is introduced. As always students are reminded to believe in themselves as creative makers and doers.

Physical Education

Students deepen their sport-specific practices in field hockey, soccer, flag football, speedminton, basketball, volleyball, badminton, track and field and lacrosse. While doing so, they also develop sportsmanship in increasingly competitive situations and explore ways to self-assess strengths and areas of opportunity.


Fifth graders learn about digital citizenship and ethical online behavior. They also learn how to use online tools that are important to their own learning, such as Google Docs, Slides, and word processing. In addition, students are developing their skills in keyboarding throughout the year. There are several long-term projects that combine many of these skills into interdisciplinary projects, such as using Scratch coding to recreate a scene from one of their history reading books.

The Changemaking program is focused on developing essential design and creation skills in order to make meaningful changes in our communities. Fifth graders learn the foundations of digital fabrication, programming, and design thinking through a variety of personal inquiry projects and activities. We embrace our critical making skills and actively seek opportunities to employ them in the service of others.
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