5th Grade Curriculum


The main objective of Fifth Grade English is to develop better readers and writers. As a class, we read and analyze Holes; A Wrinkle in Time; When You Reach Me; The Phantom Tollbooth; and Tom Sawyer. Students are also formally introduced to poetry. Outside of class, students are required to read a minimum of 400 pages a month and complete reading records for each book. Because of the importance of vocabulary, students are given a list of ten words each week to define, and they take weekly vocabulary quizzes. Throughout the course, using the Daily Grammar Practice, students study basic grammar topics, such as parts of a sentence, parts of speech, and phrases. An emphasis on diagramming helps students understand the components of and relationships in language. For some students, this is an introduction to structured grammar. Writing is a central aspect of our curriculum. Assignments range from informal meditations on a theme to expository essays about literature.

English Curriculum Guide

Fine Arts

Fifth Graders rotate among the electives. In this fun and relaxed atmosphere young art students work in different media and learn different techniques to develope their motor skills and critical thinking.

Choir(Quarter-long Rotation)
This class covers the rudiments of music and music theory fundamentals and introduces the young student to the language of music and to music's design and structure. This information is supported with children's songs and some two-part anthems as dictated by the musical aptitude of the group.

Creative Writing(Quarter-long Rotation)
Students produce creative non-gfiction, short stories, poetry, and drama. The students enter local and national writing contests and frequesntly win awards. Whenever possible, teachers welcome local writers into the classroom to encourage and inspire our budding artists. Most of the workshops are held in the computer labs, where students may easily compose, revise, and archive finished pieces. Student work is occasionally presented to small groups for peer editing. Finished products are kept on file, forming the student's portfolio, and the basis of The Dragon's Tooth and The Dragon's Toe, Altamont's creative writing publications.

String Ensemble(Year-long Rotation)
Designed for beginner and intermediate string (violin, viola, cell, and doublebass) players, this course will develop and strengthen music reading skills, the technical aspects of playing, and musical sensibilities. The ensemble will participate in the orchestra concerts throughout the year. No prior string or musical experience required. Students are strongly encouraged to sign up for lessons.

Music Appreciation(Quater-long Rotation)
In this quarter-long class, students will learn how to read sheet music, a brief history of Western music, and the different orchestral instruments. Students will also have the chance to play on different musical instruments. No prior musical experience required.

Photography(Quarter-long Rotation)
Prerequisite: An inexpensive digital camera labeled with a strap and memory card.
Photography class will be an exciting mix of studio work, outside projects and beginning Photoshop on the computer. Students will have opportunities to photograph at school and at home and combine those with fun and creative projects in the classroom.

Theatre(Quarter-long Rotation)
Lower School Drama is an elective course designed to give students an overview of theatre from multiple perspectives. Through various projects and exercises, fifth and sixth graders explore elements of acting and performance. Special emphasis is placed on physical acting through pantomime and on verbal acting through readers theatre and storytelling. Students also work with ensemble-building and interaction with their peers.

Page to Stage(Quarter-long Rotation)
An exploration of performance through playwriting, Storytelling, Readers Theater and Interpretation. Students will present both group and individual performances in various styles.

Fine Arts Curriculum Guide

Health/Physical Education

Lower school students are divided into classes by gender and receive instruction in a variety of team and individual sports and activities. Current offerings include basketball, softball, indoor and outdoor soccer, flag football, track and field, volleyball, tennis, and ultimate Frisbee.

Health/Physical Education Curriculum Guide

History/Social Science

The fifth grade course is an engaging exploration of American history from the pre-Columbian period to the end of Reconstruction. Major topics covered during the year include exploration and colonization, the American Revolution and Constitution, western expansion, antebellum culture and society, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. Throughout the year, students are instructed in note taking skills, research skills, and report writing as preparation for more advance work in social studies. The course employs class discussion and cooperative learning exercises to communicate to students the importance of both effective oral and written communication.

History/Social Science Curriculum Guide


Mathematics Course I builds on the student’s previous mastery of whole number operations, including long division. Concepts covered are factorization; reasoning and operations with fractions, decimals, percents; geometry; measurement; probability and statistics; and problem solving strategies. The curriculum establishes the mathematical foundation needed to succeed in future math courses by fostering the students’ ability to solve problems, reason, and communicate mathematically.

5th/6th Grade Math Team (Subject to approval)
Members investigate mathematics in a collaborative, relaxed atmosphere, learning to look for patterns and using a variety of approaches to problem solving. Students grapple with many different problem situations in a non-threatening environment, discovering that there is often more than one way to solve a problem and that some problems have more than one answer. Students participate in several math competitions throughout the year.

Mathematics Curriculum Guide


This first course in science is designed to stimulate interest in the life, physical, and earth sciences. It explores problem solving through the use of the scientific method and introduces many modern tools of science. This project-oriented approach to scientific topics includes the tools of science, scientific measurement, Earth’s weather and energy resources, flight and space exploration, environmental resources, human organ systems, kitchen chemistry, magnetism, and electricity. Laboratory activities are taken from a variety of sources. Field trips to area exhibits, museums, and nature centers supplement the classroom experience. Students are required to complete a science fair project for display, which competes with other fifth grade projects.

Science Curriculum Guide

World Languages

Fifth Graders follow a Rotation (one quarter each of French, Latin, Mandarin, and Spanish)

This quarter-long course introduces 5th grade students to the culture and language of France in an investigative manner. Daily homework centers on discovering French food, sports and games, history and geography, fashion, literature, colonialization, etc. Students enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of France throughout the course. Students leave the course with an appreciation for the rich and varied culture of France and its impact throughout the world - not to mention acquiring several useful vocabulary phrases to get them going on their future study of French.

This quarter-long course provides an introduction to the Latin language and the world of Classical Studies. Students will enjoy comparative vocabulary study including derivatives and cognates in English. Along with the basics of Latin grammar, we will cover the lasting cultural legacy of Rome. Discussions on mythology, daily and private life, Mediterranean geography, and famous men and women of the ancient world round out the course.

This quarter-long course introduces Mandarin to 5th grade students and endeavors to arouse their interest in learning an Oriental language. Through this 9-weeks course, students will be taught to understand vocabulary and expressions related to common daily settings. They will repeat, recite and reproduce words or sentences with fair accuracy as they begin to develop interest in learning Mandarin.

This quarter-long course introduces students to the Spanish language through the study of common words and expressions, basic grammatical structures and culture. Group interaction, written and listening exercises, as well as songs and videos will reinforce correct pronunciation and assimilation of the language. Instruction is in both Spanish and English, but students are expected to use Spanish whenever possible.

World Languages Curriculum Guide

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