5th Grade

Becoming leaders and mentors

By fifth grade, MVS students are well on their way to becoming self-sustaining learners and are refining leadership qualities. Our fifth-grade students are given the opportunity to mentor kindergarteners through our fifth grade/kindergarten buddies program.

One of the four core values on MVS is kindness. As our MVS vision states, learning to practice kindness requires empathetic, compassionate engagement with others in our school, our community, and around the world. By forming healthy relationships with younger students, fifth graders can practice their kindness toward a younger group of MVS learners. They teach them, guide them, and celebrate with them regularly throughout the school year—all actions that reflect the strong lower school community we have.

By the time our students graduate from the lower school, they have a strong foundation upon which to build their sense of self and healthy approach to life, and they are prepared for the rigorous academic experiences that lay ahead in middle school.


Language Arts

Our fifth-grade language arts program gives students practical skills in written and oral communication, as well as a strong developmental emphasis on reading comprehension and rate. In fifth grade, students expound upon the six traits of writing they learned in second grade—spelling, grammar, sentence fluencies, ideas, word choice, and organization—and take them to a new level with fiction writing, technical writing, and creative writing.

Reading is incorporated into fifth-grade language arts, and students are expected to always be reading a book on their own. In addition to individual comprehension development, our teachers incorporate frequent read aloud reading sessions. This creates a common experience and stimulates group discussions.

Because we believe that good readers are also good writers, we hold literature circles throughout the year where our fifth graders can break out into smaller reading groups, where they engage in enriching discussion and respond to a journal prompt.

Since second grade, our students have been writing research papers and fifth-grade is no exception. They have two research report assignments and three historical fiction novels that are incorporated into the social studies curriculum.


During the first semester, our students review familiar mathematic concepts; second semester, they’re learning new ways to manipulate fractions, decimals, ratio, percents and more. Every math unit has a problem solving strand where students can apply their independent thinking and problem solving.

We support learning with technology, incorporating iPads for logic activities and Chromebooks for individual reinforcement. Our teachers supplement the Singapore math program with specific enrichment materials and programs to meet the students where they are, differentiating whenever possible.

Because we feel that continuous engagement is important, we frequently give small assessments. Rather than assigning fewer, bigger tests throughout the year, we believe frequent assessments are more beneficial to the development of students’ math sense, and reduces test anxiety.

Social Sciences

We start the year off in social studies with assimilation, where our students become explorers and dive into their first research project, which is all about explorers. During this long unit, both print and Internet research skills are developed in projects involving the 13 original colonies and the early explorers of the New World.

Their sequential study of American history continues during second semester. By the end of the year, our students have learned everything between early American colonization and the Revolutionary War. A week-long trip to Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown is the perfect finish to their studies. This comprehensive sight seeing field trip incorporates hands-on activities, such as In Defense of Freedom, where students actually experience the lives of Revolutionary War soldiers; and gives them real-world insight into their culminating research project on American trades.


Up until fifth grade, our students have fully immersed themselves in the life of a scientist. In fifth-grade, they continue their pursuit of indoor and outdoor science education and are presented with different theories and concepts that they develop as a group and on their own.

In fifth grade, students are introduced to lab safety and graphing. They explore concepts in cell biology, general genetics, and forensic science while also becoming acquainted with basic chemistry: the periodic table and chemical reactions. They experiment with forces and motion; investigate famous scientists, and engage in thoughtful discussion about different scientific disciplines.

Fifth grade science is all about collecting data, analyzing it, and communicating it, which leads to greater collaborative discussion and gives them a better understanding of the world around them.

World Languages

After having been exposed to both Mandarin and Spanish from pre-K through second grade, students are in their third year of devoting their language development to one language: either Mandarin or Spanish.

They attended language classes year long two or three days a week (depending on the color week schedule). The program focuses on both language acquisition skills and culture study. The language skills program builds on the phrases and vocabulary learned in the five previous years to progress on to sentences, simple conversations or paragraphs. Through songs, games, role-playing, hands-on activities, projects and performances, the program continues to expose them to good pronunciation skills through listening and speaking and progresses on to develop a writing and reading component. In addition to the language skills, students develop an awareness of and respect for other cultures by studying the customs, geography, art, history, mythology and music of the native countries or provinces. Students continue to learn through reading non-fiction as well as fiction literature, researching culture-related topics, watching movies, cooking and eating native foods, learning authentic dances or martial arts movements, engaging in art activities and celebrating special holidays. Through a well-rounded program of language and culture in both Spanish and Mandarin, students continue to develop a new perspective of the world and their roles as compassionate global citizens.

Visual Arts

Grades 4 and 5 make art everyday for two weeks immersing themselves in technique or delving into new processes. Students can experiment, find their own style, and learn to wisely use time to resolve and refine their work. Individually and collaboratively, students use an array of materials to create two- and three-dimensional artwork. Projects arise from student interest, art history, and exploration of materials. Students begin to critique their own work and reflect on the work of others. Drawing, painting, and sculpture are the core media each year and, depending on the class, printmaking, photography, and installation art may emerge. Student work and exhibitions may be completely different from year to year.

A few of the highlights in fifth-grade art include: creating a box out of clay (moons, octopi, cats have been clay “box” shapes in years past), creating a light sculpture that correlates with fifth-grade science studies, and painting what has become known as “The Fifth Grade Table,” an annual school auction item.

Music & Performing Arts

Once students reach fourth and fifth grades, they begin to work together in one of three performing ensembles: band, choir or strings. Ensemble participation at this early age allows our students to learn the joy of making music together and lays the foundation for deep and skillful self-expression throughout their MVS career, and beyond. Fifth graders attend music classes every other day, and all are able to showcase their collaborative work through regular performances.

Fourth and fifth graders are also exposed to performing arts and enjoy the annual fourth and fifth grade musical, a culminating arts experience for lower school students. It is a grand-scale production with strong student and family involvement. Housed on our main stage theatre, expert directors guide the student cast and crew through the exciting process of a full-scale theatre performance.

Physical Education