Fifth Grade

Fifth graders begin their middle school journey with an exciting list of firsts: class changes, advisory, overnight grade level trips and more.

Students start each day out with a bit of fun in advisory.


The fifth grade literature curriculum includes a variety of genres used to further comprehension on a deeper analytical and cognitive level. Novels, short stories, poetry and informational text remain the core of the literature program. Students learn to effectively express their ideas and opinions through classroom discussions, oral presentations and written reviews. Independent reading revolves around student choice and students demonstrate meeting independent reading goals through reading logs and written book reviews. The school library media specialist collaborates with the teacher to fuel the enthusiasm for reading with book talks, multimedia presentations and incentive programs. The fifth grade literature curriculum continues to develop a lifelong love of reading within each student.

The fifth grade writing curriculum works to ensure, through frequent and sustained writing, that students master the fundamentals of grammar, syntax and paragraph organization and that students create written work that has clear focus, sufficient detail and effective use of voice. Students have a variety of creative opportunities to write in the expository, narrative, descriptive and persuasive genres and a portfolio is kept throughout the year for a reflection of progress.


The fifth grade math curriculum encourages students to work towards gaining confidence in their mathematical ability as they develop mathematical precision. Students are encouraged to ask meaningful questions, seek additional help when they do not understand and follow the organizational structures provided by teachers. Basic operations with whole numbers, decimals, fractions and integers are explored to ensure that students have the solid foundation in arithmetic required for their continued success in higher-level mathematics. Geometric ideas of polygons and their perimeters and areas are reinforced, as well as an introduction to volume and surface area.

Demands of the academic program increase as students face developmentally appropriate challenges designed to enhance their available tools for lifelong learning. These include effective oral and written communication, creative and well-reasoned solutions to problems, critical examination of the ideas of others, logical construction of arguments and the development of a strong knowledge base.


The fifth-grade science curriculum offers students their first exposure to science class on a daily basis. Students are involved in hands-on activities in the laboratory, class discussions and individual and group projects. During the first semester, the course emphasizes a more complex understanding of change, cycles, patterns and relationships in the living world. Students explore cellular organization, classification of organisms and the dynamic relationships among organisms, populations, communities and ecosystems. The second semester includes an introduction to the properties of matter, chemical change, the cardiovascular and respiratory system, and a gender split health unit.


The fifth grade history curriculum is made up of three parts. The support of non-fiction reading and study skills encourages comprehension strategies to help them make sense of the text. Students explore format, visual features and organization of the text then move on to vocabulary, concepts, note-taking, summarizing and synthesizing. The study of geography and culture is organized around regions of the world beginning with a basic introduction to the geography, history and culture of the region. The next step is a deeper exploration through a case study focused on a single country in that region. A final area of focus highlights how historians "do" history. Students will begin developing the skills necessary to help them answer historical questions by exploring artifacts and primary documents related to each unit. This skill is essential to students' success in 6th-8th grade history.

Starting the year off with the 5 themes of Geography, the students explore how our world is defined and why it is defined these ways. The students end the semester exploring the cultures of different regions of the world and do a final comprehensive project which pulls all these concepts together. The rest of the year, the students move on to learning what historians, geographers and archeologists study. Using the ancient cultures of Latin America, China and India. They try to answer the question about whether early cultures were "civilizations" using the tools of the three disciplines as they explore artifacts and evidence left by these cultures. This lays the foundation for the 6th grade course which explores the Medieval world.

Foreign Language


The fifth grade Spanish curriculum is taught primarily in the target language, recognizing that immersion is a vital element in language acquisition. The incorporation of cognates (words similar in Spanish and English), repetition, gestures, props and dramatization facilitate comprehension. The primary goals of Fifth Grade Spanish are to establish a level of comfort, confidence and familiarity with the language as well as to develop cultural awareness. Students are expected to follow both written and oral instructions in Spanish. In addition to building a base of vocabulary and developing proper pronunciation, students are introduced to basic sentence structure, noun/adjective agreement and the concept of verb conjugation. Development of the basic skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking prepares students for a more in-depth study of grammar in Level 1.


Middle School art provides an environment for problem solving and creative thinking as students become confident in self-expression and the ability to create quality artwork. Students should emerge from fifth grade art with confidence in decision-making, responsibility for their work and the materials they use, an understanding of the relevance of art in their lives, and an appreciation of the influence art has on all our lives. They should have a working vocabulary and knowledge of art that helps them to evaluate their work as well as that of others. Favorite lessons for fifth grade art students include Egyptian Art, one point perspective cityscapes, paper masks and mandalas. In the spring, each student chooses a piece to be displayed in the Middle School art show.


Fifth grade instrumental music at Spartanburg Day School focuses on learning to read music notation and perform music on an instrument. The first weeks of the year will be spent grappling with rhythmic notation. In the second half of the first semester the recorder appears. Students learn to apply pitch and rhythm to their newly found skills on the recorder. The second half of the semester will allow students to select a band instrument or continue with recorder. Students will also be working through a music theory text throughout the year as well as performing in at least two performances.

Physical Education

Students learn the fundamentals of various sports in an organized environment. Expectations of proper behavior that foster an understanding and enjoyment of wellness are encouraged. Respect, cooperation and sportsmanship are the focus of learning.