Fifth Grade

Ancient Greece: What Is Voice?

Core Curriculum

In Fifth Grade the students explore: What is voice? What does it mean to have a voice–when you are writing, when you are part of a community, when you are a citizen?  Who has a voice?  Beginning with the study of ancient Greece, students learn about the connection between civic participation and democracy, socially-constructed hierarchies, and voice in culture and mythology. Considering the powerful connection between these ideas, Fifth Graders shift their focus to our own nation’s history. With considerable focus on the diversity of the United States and the struggle for all citizens to gain a voice, students investigate the historical construction of race and racial identities while considering the impact and importance of a multitude of individual and collective voices. 

The class engages in lively discussions and learns to read for details and generate main ideas to support their conversations. They continue to develop the research skills learned in earlier years and use these to further their understanding of various research topics. 

Storytelling is a key part of the study, recognizing and investigating the power of perspective. To gain a broader understanding of identity and the rich power of culture, students also explore voice and storytelling from a mythological perspective, delving deeper into how cultures use symbolism in myths and poetry to reflect identity.


Reading: The essential question, “what is voice?” also informs the reading and writing curriculum as students consider voice in both the texts they read and those they write. Fifth Graders build upon the reading strategies they learned in previous years. Now more comfortable with drawing inferences and writing in more detail about their thinking, students learn how to think more deeply about the characters, and to understand how paying close attention to the desires and motivation of these characters can deepen their understanding of a text. Students also focus on reading and analyzing nonfiction texts both to extract information and to better understand an author’s point of view. In Fifth Grade, students read independent books as well as books with a group of classmates.

Writing: In Fifth Grade, students continue to focus on narrative, information, and opinion writing, and poetry, using more sophisticated techniques and creating more detailed and fully developed pieces. Students learn strategies to improve the effectiveness of their writing during whole class instruction and then receive individual coaching to give immediate feedback as they learn to improve their skills. Students study how to create rising tension in a story, how to structure an essay with supporting details, how to revise their work, and how to organize an argument through effective use of paragraph structure. Spelling, vocabulary, and grammar skills are reinforced through Word Study lessons. Keyboarding skills continue to be refined and utilized. Drafting and editing of written work is done through word processing.


The skills of problem solving, communication, critical thinking, and analysis continue to evolve in math in the Fifth Grade. Emphasis is placed on problem-solving processes and sound computation skills as students master the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division as applied to whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Hands-on activities and math games deepen and enrich student understanding and application.

The Fifth Grade math curriculum includes factors, prime/composite numbers, prime factorization, and square numbers; all decimal operations and estimation; angle geometry with vertical/opposite angles, triangles, quadrilaterals, regular polygons; fraction comparison and fraction operations; conversion of fractions to decimals to percents; data analysis, graphs and landmarks; signed number addition/subtraction; exponents, scientific notation, number-word notation, expanded notation and order of operations; coordinate geometry; and perimeter, area, and volume of 2-D and 3-D geometric shapes.

Text: Everyday Math 5.


The Fifth Grade science curriculum, “How Our Bodies Work: From Atoms to Systems,” is directly connected to the core curriculum study of Ancient Greece. Not only were the Ancient Greeks the first people to think about the idea of the atom, but they were also intrigued by the human figure. Students explore the human body, starting from the most basic level of the atoms that make up the body and progressing through how those atoms connect together to make more complex structures. The year begins with the foundations of chemistry, including an introduction to matter, the atom, and the Periodic Table of Elements. Students then build upon their knowledge of atoms and elements to better understand molecules, cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems. Specifically, students examine the following organ systems: nervous, skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and reproductive. The Fifth Grade science course includes a unit on puberty, health, and the male and female reproductive systems.

Throughout the year, the students learn the fundamentals of scientific exploration by conducting lab experiments and completing hands-on projects. Students continue to build on their science practices by making predictions and hypotheses, recording data, analyzing and drawing conclusions from their data, and applying these conclusions to real world situations.

World Languages

The language program at the Fourth and Fifth Grade level allows each student to experience one semester of French and one semester of Spanish during the school year.

French and Spanish: In the Fifth Grade French and Spanish classes, students use storytelling techniques, guided reading, personalized conversation, songs, and communicative games to develop the four major skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The class acquires phrases related to the classroom, parts of the body, and the family. Vocabulary, such as the calendar, numbers 0-50, greetings, classroom objects, and classroom commands are addressed on an ongoing basis as students learn to function in the classroom. Students create mini skits, and participate in interactive games and activities to deepen their understanding. Grammar concepts include differentiating between talking to one person compared to a group of people and recognizing plural and gender markers.

In French, students start reading longer passages, and begin writing their own short stories, “free writes,” as they become more familiar with the French written language. Students practice their French writing skills by communicating with their pen pals in our partner school in Beaugency, France.

Performing Arts

Dance Choreography: The Fifth Grade Dance workshop continues to build upon the dance experiences from previous years. The students continue to work collaboratively to build original dances that continue to explore the fundamental elements of movement such as time, space, and energy and connect to the classroom curriculum topics surrounding Ancient Greece. The building of great civilizations and the power of communities coming together are explored in small and large group settings to develop dance material. The Fifth Grade students perform original dance works created by themselves with direction from the dance teaching artists and reflect on the journey they will have undertaken to develop performance work.

Music Theory and Choir: All students in the Fourth and Fifth Grades participate in the Far Brook Choir and study sight-singing, theory, vocal tone development and choral part-singing. Students rehearse for the Thanksgiving Processional in the fall semester, studying repertoire focusing on the harvest. The Spring Concert provides an opportunity for the Choir to sing alone, without the assistance of the older students, in a formal concert setting exploring themed-repertoire.
For students in the Fifth Grade, Choir continues to provide an opportunity to merge note-reading skills with the voice, independent of a student mentor/partner. Tracking words and notes on the musical score while continuing to learn to produce and support a beautiful singing tone and following a conductor remain a continued goal.

Orchestra: Students join the Far Brook Orchestra once they reach a certain level of proficiency in their musical skills. The Orchestra plays in Morning Meeting and at the Spring Concert. Many students who participate in Orchestra also perform in the annual Recital Night in the spring.

Drama: Integrating the Fifth Grade study of Ancient Greece, students in Drama engage with, and perform, classic tales of ancient legends told by a Chorus-based ensemble, including plays by Euripides, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and others. Here, individuals begin to step out of the Chorus to draw out conflicts, and the students delve into more complex language and situations. The Fifth Grade play facilitates the students’ transition to the investigation, rehearsal, and presentation of a classic Greek tragedy or comedy, in conjunction with their curricular study of Ancient Greece. The production is somewhat more elaborately staged, reflecting the students’ growing proficiency in ensemble performance. This is facilitated by the choral-based structure of Greek drama, in which the interactions between individual solo characters and the chorus create the dramatic center of the play.

Fine Arts

Art: While in art, Fifth Graders create their own original mosaic designs utilizing glass tiles. The images they imagine incorporate themes from Greek mythology, supporting their study of Ancient Greek culture and civilizations. Students begin by designing their own personalized Greek-inspired insignia on paper, focusing on the importance of layout and design, as well as the meaning of color and symbolism in Ancient Greek art. Students continue to evolve their 2-dimensional ideas and finally realize them in 3-dimensional glass mosaic format. Students develop the basic and historical approaches and techniques to tile arrangement, which they incorporate into their original, hand-tiled mosaic insignia; a modern-day nod to a significant and ancient art form.

Woodshop and Design Thinking: In the Fifth Grade Woodshop mini, students design kinetic sculptures. Using cams, gears, and driveshafts, these sculptures are brought to life using hand tools as well as digital design tools. The combination of digital and physical tools allow students to fully explore their creativity. The students independently examine challenges as they arise and work collaboratively as they explore the trial and error process that is a natural part of original design. Woodshop projects at this level make use of all the tools that have been mastered over the span of the student’s time at Far Brook.


In the Fifth Grade Technology mini, students explore a variety of topics, from online safety to web design. At the beginning of the course, Fifth Graders engage in thoughtful discussions about what it means to be a responsible digital citizen and how their digital footprint can impact their daily lives. The class concludes with a filmmaking unit that aligns with their study of Ancient Greece. Students learn how to edit and use a green screen to create special effects. Over the course of the year, students develop their facility with Google Suite for Education productivity tools and are expected to practice their typing skills.

Social and Emotional

The Middle School years are exciting times as students move into the early stages of adolescence and take on increasing levels of responsibility for their learning and for their roles in Far Brook life. As the ability of the students to think abstractly and analytically, and with more critical discernment increases, teachers work to utilize and stretch these developing skills by challenging students to work in greater depth and scope.

In Middle School, the Learning Specialist and Literacy Specialist work with students individually and in small groups within various classroom settings. They consult regularly with the classroom teachers to coordinate strategies that take into account students’ specific learning styles.

Students in the Middle School begin to take on more responsibility for their learning. Through support from their academic teachers and the Learning Specialist, students learn organization and time management skills that are reinforced daily, resulting in students who are more independent with homework. Students also learn various study strategies as they prepare for quizzes and tests and memorize lines for their class play. In addition, students learn test-taking techniques for classroom quizzes and tests, and are also afforded opportunities to experience standardized testing. The ERB CTP-5 is administered to the Fifth through Eighth Grade students each year.

Community Groups: In the Fifth and Sixth Grades, Community groups form to provide an opportunity for small group conversations across the grade levels. Students explore how community connects us to one another through a variety of relationships. Both as an individual and a collective group students have influence as helpers and leaders in their class, the Middle School, the Far Brook community, and beyond.

Classroom Meetings: Fifth Graders have periodic class meetings to participate in discussions that help them assess their progress as a class community. During these meetings the teachers, school counselor or Director of Diversity, Equity, and Community lead lessons on topics such as establishing and respecting community expectations, cooperating and compromising, problem-solving, recognizing and accepting differences among people, mindfulness, positive self-talk, and more. The goals of these lessons and meetings are to create a cooperative classroom environment and to give students the skills they need to solve interpersonal problems and to build positive relationships.

Spectrum: As expressed in our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice, we believe that being intentional about equity and inclusion provides a platform for students to understand, to thrive in, and to impact our multicultural society. Students discuss identity, race, community and a broad range of social justice topics in this Mini class taught by the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Community.

Sports and Wellness

Sports: The Fifth Grade Sports program includes a combination of cooperative team building activities, fitness and strength development, and all students participate in a fall and spring interscholastic sport. Boys participate in soccer in the fall and baseball in the spring while the girls participate in field hockey in the fall and lacrosse in the spring. A co-ed track and field team has been added to the spring program. Students learn the rules and regulations of these games and practice the basic skills and strategies of these sports. Peer leadership and learning to be a supportive teammate is reinforced during every practice and game. The cornerstone of the sports curriculum is character development through demonstrating good sportsmanship. During the sports’ seasons, students share several Sports Reports throughout the season in Morning Meeting about the teams’ games and accomplishments. When not in season, the students participate in activities such as pickleball, ultimate frisbee, team handball, and basketball and various fitness activities.

Health & Wellness: During the winter session, students participate in sports games, fitness training, and health classes. At the Fifth Grade level students complete the first half of the American Red Cross First Aid Babysitting Curriculum. Topics covered include leadership, child safety, and emergency care. This class continues into the Sixth Grade year and includes an American Red Cross certification at the end of the course.

After School Programs

Interscholastic Sports Teams: Students at the Fifth Grade level compete for the first time on the Far Brook Interscholastic sports teams. All students in Grades 5-8 participate on these teams. Fifth Graders are mentored by the Sixth Graders during practices and game play. Practices are held during the school day, four times a week, while the interscholastic games occur during after school hours.

After School Classes: Many families use school services beyond the school day. At Far Brook we offer fee-based programs that provide enrichment, variety, and opportunities for students from multiple grades to connect and interact.
Students can sign up for a variety of classes that are offered every day of the week. Some of our classes are also available on a drop-in basis so that families may periodically enroll when the need arises.

Class offerings have included: Coding for Kids, Flag Football, Maker’s Space, Chef’s Club, Backyard Games, Scrapbooking, Pottery, Homework Club, and more.

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