Fifth Grade Curriculum Builds Deeper Knowledge

I remember the fifth grade fondly. It's the year that I felt I was most intelligent, coordinated, assertive, and generally happy.

It's one of the last years of complete innocence, where their focus is on learning, and they seem to gobble up new facts so fast their brains bulge. 

A Few Words About Curriculum

Before presenting my suggestions about fifth grade curriculum, I want to encourage you to begin thinking outside the box about what your child is going to be learning during the next few years.

In compiling and promoting my pages, I've read from dozens of Moms who talk about their dissatisfaction with this curriculum or that one, asking advice about whether to switch over to this one or that one.

They say that one curriculum is too boring, another is too hard, or does not have enough support. What they should be doing is creating their own curriculum that hits the basics, then expand it and gear it toward their children's interests.  

I wouldn't waste my money on any specific curriculum frankly because that's what the publics do. Don't they choose books and make your child fit into it?

Instead, I would get some used fifth grade elementary books for guides (It's okay to color inside the lines too, just don't be a slave to them.) and add supplemental materials during the year.

Curriculum changes very little. For example,

  • do the sums of adding, multiplying or dividing change every ten years?
  • does the formula for water change? 
  • do the laws of physics change?
  • do the historical events of America's independence change every seven years? 

Actually, the answer to that last one is yes. While the events don't change, the political slant does. Autobiographies don't; however, so if you want your child to really understand history, include autobiographies. 

Perhaps, there is a better way to help your child learn the times' table, but in my humble opinion, developing better teaching strategies by learning your child's strengths is the way to learn. 

Once your child understands the concept and tests well, go on to something else. The next week review a concept or ask a question about it to help your child remember it. This process helps move information in her brain from short-term to long-term memory.

There are simply too many adventures to experience to waste your child's learning on getting worksheet #25 completed today, so she can complete worksheet #26 tomorrow.

Below are some of my suggestions for Art, Critical Thinking, English, Handwriting,

 MathScience, and History

Fifth Grade Arts 

An excellent teaching strategy for learning about the numerous types of art is to have your child study one and choose an art piece to emulate.

I have a couple of suggestions for now. First, you can take a virtual tour of up to 300 different museums 

Select an artist or style of art that interests her, and study one or two of the paintings. Then, she can imitate it. 

Fifth Grade Curriculum: English

I recommend that your child work on her English skills through reading. Here's why: 

It's the most logical way to improve her vocabulary, but this website will . If you choose to focus on spelling as well, here is a wonderful free resource that offers more than 300 spelling words to supplement her reading. 

Reading a wide range of literature will reinforce her comprehension and give you an opportunity to expose her to new genres of literature. 

As she begins to learn to respond to literature orally (with you and at the dinner table)  and through her writing, her writing skills will develop naturally and will not be forced.

Since I firmly believe that writing well will help your child improve her deductive and inductive reasoning skills, let's make this the year of the adjectives.

She will need a used grammar book to help her correct any grammatical errors that she may be making. Used bookstores and Friends of Library stores have many used textbooks.

Buy an old, used copy because the parts of speech haven't changed in more than a century. I would also recommend buying the Elements of Style. She will use it throughout her college career too. 

It was written by E.B. White and Strunk, and has been a guide to writers for decades. You'll remember that E.B. White wrote Charlotte's WebStuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, all perfectly wonderful books.

I've included these books , and if you'll notice, there's a biography of White's life. I listened to the first chapter on audio and learned that like him, I've always liked animals a bit more than people.

I thought it was a simply divine story. Your child may feel the same way.

A personal requestI have an affiliate relationship with Amazon; if you decide to purchase some of these books, please click from my website so I can receive credit. 

The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries are at the 700 lexile level and perfect for the fifth grader. These mystery stories will help her improve her critical thinking skills.

She does not need to write an essay on every book she reads; however, she should write at least four major essays this year.

For a fifth grader that will be a three- to-four-paragraph essays with a thesis statement and two well-developed ideas per paragraph.

Here is a very detailed article on the five-paragraph essay, which you can modify by eliminating one supporting paragraph and one supporting detail per paragraph.  

Your child will probably still need help developing a thesis statement, but once she has the two supporting ideas, she should have at least three examples of each one in the supporting paragraphs. 

Handwriting and Copy Work

There are some educational groups who suggest that handwriting practice continue in the fifth grade. I agree with them. An excellent way to do this is by providing educational material for your child to copy.

Encourage her handwriting to become smaller (to fit inside regularly lined paper) and encourage legibility.

A WORD OF CAUTION: If you can read it without too much strain,and you know that she is taking her time, don't be too picky.

In addition to knowing how to write cursive, it is also important to be able to read cursive as well. 

There are many old, handwritten documents that your child will not be able to read if she doesn't read cursive.

 Here's an example of what I'm talking about. If your child can't write cursive, she certainly can't read it.

To the right is a letter I inherited from my grandmother that is from her grandfather, Arthur Pendleton Bagby.

He was Governor of Alabama and at the time he wrote this letter to his wife he was serving as ambassador to Czarist Russia. As you can see, the letter was written from St. Petersburg.

His handwriting isn't perfect, but it is legible.

If your child reads cursive, she can research original source documents. 


Arthur Pendleton Bagby

(1794-Sept. 21, 1858) 

Fifth Grade History

When your child studies history, always include as many primary sources as possible to balance the political bent of the time period. Authors of texts from decades ago seem less inclined to bend the "truth" as historians do today, but at the same time, some texts are more enlightened today than years ago.

Just remember that history books are always written by the victors, not the losers, so getting a first-hand account through a good diary, journal, or autobiography will keep your child thinking clearly about history. 

Fourth grade history  left off with 1825, so let's begin with fifth grade history by learning about 

  • Indian Removal Act and Trail of Tears (1830 and 1836)
  • the development of the Underground Railroad (1831)
  • Texas gaining independence from Mexico and The Alamo (1836)
  • Inventions: Colt revolver, John Deere Steel Plow, mechanical reaper, and the sewing machine. (Imagine the advances in labor that can take place with machines like this.)
  • bicycles and vulcanized rubber (1839)
  • the Oregon Trail (1843)
  • the Gold Rush (1848)

Can't you feel the movement of the country from these events?

I recommend the books above, but there are many more primary and reliable sources. If you click on these, other possible choices will pop up too.

Davy Crockett: Bears, Congress, and Texas

 Davy Crockett fights a bear

Here's are two books by Davy Crockett, which I'm sure your children will enjoy. Crockett was a colorful figure as evidence by these quotes that are contributed to him.  

“You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas."

“We have the right as individuals to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money. 

Parents, before moving on think about your child's history education. Which do you think is better and which do you think will have a greater impact?

Studying snippets of history from a third person narrator possibly filtered by the political bias of today's world, or a first-hand account of how one man lived his life

Fifth Grade Math

What you need is a used book with lots of problems for practice. Math curriculum hasn't changed in years, except that it may be more complicated with Common Core. 

In general, you're not going to teach fractions before you've introduced division and you can't teach division before they understand the multiplication table, so why do you need "the latest" book for that.

On the other hand, you don't have to teach fractions in order to bake a cookies. Learning happens everywhere. 



Long Division With Remainders

 All-Star David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox) 

Photo by Rafael Amado Deras

Here's another way of studying math. In the second semester, why not have your child study this baseball unit!!

During baseball season, I'm sure Dad is going to take the family to games this summer, but what about learning a few stats on her own to impress Dad. 

Baseball is all about numbers, and with a little math applied to the game, it can take baseball fun to a whole new level. 

Learn the Game

Maybe your fifth grade child doesn't live near a baseball field, but you can still watch at least one live game per day live season long on a computer. Here's how:

MLB.TV offers a free game every day.

Here is a really good website with many math worksheets. You know what your child needs. 

However, what you want to be sure to do is expose your child to various methods of learning her math material. For example, moving on to adding and subtracting simple fractions would be a good idea if she is stuck at two-digit division. 

My son has hit walls like this, and it doesn't do any good to keep drilling before going on to other things. Adding fractions with the same denominator is pretty simple. Giving your child the experience of success with fractions could help her break through to a new level. When this happens, try a couple of division problems and see if this doesn't help. 

Fifth Grade Science

Here is a website that offers a fifh grade science scope and sequence. This can be very helpful as it shows parents the curriculum options for the year.

There are many worksheets and powerpoint presentations that can be used to enhance your child's learning. I've visited most of the links on the life science page, and they are colorful, informative and diverse. As always, however, your feedback is always welcome. 

Every summer these caracol (snail)eggs float onto the beach, but usually they are already broken.

Here's one still intact where you can see the tiny snails inside.

Snail egg sac

Photo by Diana Boles


Visit other curriculum pages here. 



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