Grade levels » 5th Grade

5th Grade

5th grade

5th Grade Reading

Most of the 5th grade reading curriculum focuses on teaching students to understand and develop ideas about the texts they read. Fifth graders learn to support their ideas using specific details from books, and are expected to think carefully about (and ultimately use) quotes, facts, and events to develop opinions about a text and explain it. Students practice this as they read texts together as a class and independently, and their teachers often show them specific strategies they can use to do this. Fifth graders also expand these skills as they write extensively about what they read in every subject.

To build reading skills, your fifth grader:

  • Begins to use direct quotes from texts to explain and prove ideas about the reading.
  • Reads a variety of genres including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama.
  • Uses details from the text to summarize it, identity the main idea or theme, compare characters or events, or compare different texts of the same genre.
  • Interprets and understands metaphors and comparisons made in a text.
  • Identifies an author or narrator’s point of view and explains how this affects the content of a text.
  • Compares multiple perspectives on the same event, idea, or theme.
  • Uses the context of a text to determine the meaning of unknown words.
  • Uses technology and digital media to further her understanding of a topic and to find answers to her questions.
  • Gathers information about a topic from multiple sources.

5th Grade Writing

Fifth graders build on the skills they learned in 4th grade to become clearer and more developed writers. They pursue many different kinds of pieces covering a variety of topics, and use details and organization to strengthen their writing. As they work on pieces in class, students are taught to use writing to share their own unique ideas and perspectives — not just those of others.   

To build writing skills, your 5th grader:

  • Writes opinion pieces, which include:
    •  an introduction and conclusion
    • a logical and clear structure
    • evidence that supports the author’s opinion
  • Writes informational pieces that:
    • explain a topic using details such as definitions, quotations, and facts
    • include an introduction and conclusion
  • Writes narrative pieces that:
  • introduce and describe an event in a logical way
  • use details such as dialogue, thoughts, and emotions
  • provide a conclusion
  • Plans, revises, and edits his writing
  • Thinks about the best way to approach his writing and tries different ways to do so — such as writing in a different tense, or from a different perspective.
  • Uses technology (under adult supervision) to publish writing, research, and communicate with others.
  • Types at least two pages of text in one sitting.
  • Uses multiple sources to write and create a research project.
  • Takes notes on information and cites the sources used.
  • Writes pieces that take long periods of time (a few weeks) and short periods of time (one sitting or a couple of days).

5th Grade Math 

In 5th grade, students practice more complex computation with fractions, decimals, and larger numbers, using all four basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They also often solve equations that require multiple steps and must be completed in a specific order — for example, solving equations in parentheses first.

Fifth grade math also emphasizes real-life situations to help students strengthen their skills and solve problems that occur in their own lives. To do this, it often uses real-life objects and math tools like money, rulers, and visuals to teach new concepts. As in previous grades, 5th graders are often asked to explain how they solve problems to ensure that they truly understand the underlying concepts.

To build math skills, your 5th grader:

  • Uses addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to solve word problems.
  • Adds, subtracts, multiplies, and divides multi-digit numbers.
  • Practices using parentheses and brackets in equations, knowing the proper order to use to solve the equations.
  • Writes, adds, subtracts, multiplies, compares, and rounds decimals.
  • Solves division equations that include remainders and divides numbers that have up to four digits by numbers that have up to two digits.
  • Adds, subtracts, multiplies, and divides fractions with different denominators.
  • Plots fractions in the correct order on a line graph.
  • Solves word problems that measure distance, time, size, money, area, perimeter, and volume; uses whole numbers, fractions, and decimals.
  • Estimates and predicts answers to word problems and equations based on knowledgeable guesses.
  • Understands the relationship between different units of measurement and can convert one unit to another (for example, centimeters to inches).
  • Plots coordinates on graphs and compares their distance and positions.
  • Follows a pattern or set of guidelines to create a number. For example: Start with 5, add 3 five times, and subtract 1. What number are you left with? Students then do the same with another set of guidelines and explain the connections between the two patterns.
  • Knows the qualities and different categories of two-dimensional shapes. 

5th Grade Science

Similar to other subjects in 5th grade, science lessons emphasize the importance of analyzing topics so students can deepen their thinking, expand their knowledge, and develop their own ideas and conclusions. For example, as fifth graders conduct experiments and investigate topics, they are encouraged to come up with ideas, draw conclusions, and ask further questions for future experiments and investigations. They are also asked to support these ideas and questions with evidence.

As in other grades, the exact topics studied in 5th grade science vary according to state. However, common ones include earth and space, plants, the cycle of life, animals, the human body, electricity and magnetism, motion, and sound. Students also often learn about these topics in relation to their location and where they live. Consult your child’s teacher or research your state’s science standards for more details.

To build science skills, your 5th grader:

  • Conducts experiments using the scientific method:
    • questions, observes, and researches
    • develops a hypothesis (based on observations and research)
    • makes predictions
    • experiments
    • develops a conclusion
    • Asks additional questions to research and experiment, based on previous conclusions
    • Develops and explains ideas based on investigations and experiments; uses specific reasoning and evidence to explain his assertions.
    • Presents the findings and conclusion of an experiment, both orally and in writing.
    • Researches and takes notes on information about a variety of topics using both books and digital resources.
    • Collects and uses data to support experiments and what he learns.
    • Experiments with different types of materials and matter—such as solid, liquid, and gas—to observe different physical and chemical changes.
    • Works independently, with partners, in small groups, and as a class to conduct experiments and create projects.
    • Studies and creates models of systems and objects to further explore and show an understanding of scientific concepts.

5th Grade Social Studies

In most schools, 5th grade curriculum focuses on United States history, beginning with the colonization of America and possibly continuing through the 20th century. As 5th graders learn about social studies, they are taught to analyze the reasons behind events, make connections, and compare those events. As in other grades, most social studies curricula are specific to a location, so consult your child’s teacher or your state’s social studies standards to find out which specific communities and aspects of the community will be covered.

To build social studies skills, your 5th grader:

  • Writes about what she learns in a traditional essay format.
  • Uses primary sources and different types of media (such as film and art) to learn about historical events.
  • Learns about historical events through the context of geography and how it affected certain event outcomes.
  • Researches, organizes, and presents her research on various topics, events, and figures.
  • Discusses topics, focusing on using specific details, facts, and reasons to support her opinion.
  • Uses technology to research both past and current events and topics. 
  • Deepens her understanding of government and civic responsibility