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  • Nursery through Grade 8 | Short Hills, New Jersey

Fifth Grade

Fifth Grade students become fully immersed in their core curricular study of Ancient Greece, which culminates in the spring with their Fifth Grade Greek Olympics. They learn to lead as they support the Fourth Graders in their transition to Middle School Choir and, at the same time, are supported by the Sixth Grade as they join the Far Brook interscholastic athletic teams.

Core Curriculum

The core curriculum for the Fifth Grade is the yearlong study of Ancient Greece.  Work throughout the year focuses on the rich history and culture of Greece with specific studies in geography; art and architecture; mythology and religion; government and overall history; and the Olympics, both ancient and modern. Throughout their studies, the class concentrates on answering the questions of why Ancient Greece still seems to surround us and what is the legacy of Ancient Greece.

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 the culture of Greece.  Dateline: Troy by Paul Fleischman serves as the starting point for understanding The Iliad.   Many projects and a favorite trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art help them experience the art and architecture of the period.  The science curriculum is tied to the class with a study of the human body to recognize the Greek reverence for the human form.  The stories of mythology become a study of the constellations in December as the children paint the classroom windows with many patterns of the stars the Greeks named.     

At the end of the year, the Fifth Grade experiences the Olympics.  This culminating event brings all they have learned about culture and history together and allows them to try their prowess in some of the actual events, such as discus throwing, the javelin, and the long jump.  They design and help make their own chitons; research and then put together a “museum” of the Olympic events for other classes to tour; practice and then compete on the actual day; and finally feast on Greek food, followed by authentic dancing.


Reading: 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 in the fiction they are reading, and how the desires and motivation of these characters deepen their understanding of a text. Students also focus on reading and analyzing non-fiction text 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. These group experiences allow students to improve upon their analytical reading skills.

Writing: In Fifth Grade, students continue to focus on narrative, information, and opinion writing using more sophisticated techniques and creating more detailed and fully developed pieces. Students are taught 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. Cursive handwriting and keyboarding skills continue to be refined and utilized. Drafting and editing of written work is done through word processing. In Fifth Grade, the units of study include realistic fiction, a literary essay, poetry, and a report on a subject rooted in the core curriculum study of Ancient Greece.


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: sensory, nervous (including the brain), skeletal, muscular, circulatory, 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 by completing hands-on projects. Examples of this include the dissection of a chicken leg and a cow eye; the opportunity to create their own bone and test its strength; the use of a microscope to look at slides of different types of tissue; and the measurement of the decibel level of common sounds. 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.


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, and tessellations; 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.


In the Fifth Grade French, teachers continue to 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 new 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. They are introduced to cultural aspects such as the conventions of politeness and respect to adults. Students start reading longer passages, and begin writing their own short stories, “freewrites,” as they become more familiar with the French written language.

Performing Arts

Dance Choreography: The Fifth Grade Dance workshop series 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 work 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: In Fifth Grade, students learn Music Theory as they continue their study using Materials of Music with units on timbre, rhythm, melody, and expression. Students explore ear-training and sight-singing exercises in each class, including learning songs from the Far Brook repertoire. Rhythmic and melodic dictations hone aural skills and reinforce note-reading and students become more facile with musical notation.

Choir: All students in Fourth and Fifth Grades meet weekly as the Far Brook Choir to study sight-singing, theory, vocal tone development, and to begin choral part-singing. 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. While tracking words and notes on the musical score is becoming easier, continuing to learn to produce and support a beautiful singing tone and following a conductor remain a continued goal.

Orchestra: The Director of Music invites students to join the Far Brook Orchestra once they reach a certain level of proficiency in their musical skills. Many students who participate in Orchestra also perform in our 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 incorporate themes from Greek mythology which supports their study of Ancient Greek culture. Students transpose their ideas first created on paper to the glass format. Due to the different mediums, this process typically involves some modification in the use of color and shape. Technical and conceptual skill is required in assessing the proper sizes of paper and glass pieces that will best convey a cohesive visual impact and a dynamic design. In this context, the use of color is not only descriptive, but it also creates depth. Students learn the basic and historical approaches to tile arrangement and they can incorporate any of these modes which best support their ideas.

Woodshop: In the Fifth Grade Woodshop mini, students design a light source for their home. They are presented with a small cordless light and explore the direction and diffusion of the light in their final projects. 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.

Sports & 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. 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 a Sports' Report each Friday in Morning Meeting reporting the team's accomplishments and goals for the next game to the entire School community.

Health & Wellness: The goal of the winter season is to foster an appreciation of fitness, sports, and living a healthy lifestyle. Activities may include flag football, basketball, pickle ball, volleyball, and cardio kick boxing. For approximately 10 weeks, students have one health and wellness lesson in place of a physical education class each week. The Fifth Graders participate in the American Red Cross Babysitter’s Training program. The goal of this program is to give students the skills and confidence to be a great babysitter by learning how to: be a good leader and role model; make good decisions; care for and understand kids; respond to an emergency; and perform basic child care and first aid. Students receive American Red Cross certification after the successful completion of the course.

Social & Emotional

Connections: Connections introduces small group discussion to the Fifth Graders while addressing social issues in school, in the students’ personal lives, online and offline. One main focus of this curriculum is to explore the brain and identity as this age group experiences physical and emotional changes in the upcoming years of adolescence. Connections includes strategies to decrease anxiety and set and achieve personal goals. Including the Educational Technology Specialist, conversations are about what it means to be a digital citizen and how to make thoughtful choices online that promote positive relationships with family and friends.

In addition, Fifth and Sixth Graders participate in a series of workshops extending the Connections classes. The Ophelia Project curriculum offers students an opportunity to explore the challenges of navigating social situations that are typically encountered in Fifth and Sixth Grades meeting the specific needs of both boys and girls. The goals of the program include: promoting non-aggressive pro-social behavior; encouraging children to express their feelings in appropriate, healthy ways; equipping each child with strategies and skills, s/he needs to protect his/herself and others in a healthy, constructive manner; and providing opportunities for children to develop alternative solutions to conflicts. Additional topics such as The Language of Peer Aggression; The Role of the Bystander; Normative Beliefs; Friendship; Leadership; and Cyberbullying are explored as well.

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