At ten or eleven years old, the fifth grader can be seen as standing on a bit of a fulcrum or precipice. As if on a see-saw, one minute they can be looking back, acting like second graders, playing imaginative games or singing songs they learned years earlier, then the next minute they are acting like moody teenagers, trying on all the vivaciousness and attitudes they have observed in older students. Children start to look at what is coming in the teen years and wonder how they will handle the changes they are beginning to experience in themselves. It is a time for reflection, solidifying foundations and exploring how cultures of the world have grappled with the questions of existence. How did we get here? How should we behave towards the world and each other? How should I conduct myself honorably? How does one find purpose in life? What happens when we die?
The two hour main lesson that begins the day allows for kinesthetic learning with rhythms, singing, recitation and synchronized movements. Students delve deeply into ancient cultures, living intimately with stories of India, Persia, Babylon, Egypt and Greece. Each creation story brings a different twist. New and familiar perspectives are compared in how these cultures approached the fundamental questions of life. Closer to home, studying North American geography gives an opportunity to delve into how native cultures worked with their environments and how cultures and environments connect us across borders.
The relative ease of learning decimal fractions gives time to review and solidify the basic computation and fraction work that is the foundations of algebra and calculus, which loom enticingly on the horizon. The study of botany, mixing poetic and artistic explorations of the plant world with scientific terminology and systems of identification, rounds out a curriculum that embraces the abundant energy of this age while honoring both their powerful imaginations and dawning analytical capacities.
MAIN LESSON SKILLS
Personal and academic responsibility, punctuality with deadlines
Greek mythology, ancient civilizations, independent writing, reading, composition book reports, grammar, biographies of key cultural figures
Decimals, fractions, metric system, freehand geometry
Botany, zoology, entomology
North American geography, Native American cultures
Painting, geometric drawing, form drawing, clay modeling
Knitting in the round (4-5 needles), plant dyeing yarn
Band or orchestra, chorus, major and minor Keys
Pentathlon training (discus, javelin, long jump, wrestling, running), rhythmic exercises