It’s an end and a beginning. Fifth grade is when the skills that your kiddos have been honing through elementary school will need to be firmed up to set a solid foundation for the upper grades ahead.
Here’s the basics of what a fifth grader will need to know in the main subjects. I’ve included some tips for reluctant readers and math haters. We have one of each and I do my best to keep tears out of our curriculum.
Mom tip – follow your kid’s interests and have them involved as much as possible to get the most out of the time you spend teaching them the basics.
Writing, Reading and Sharing their Opinion
While writing has always been on the syllabus, it’s now taken a larger role in what fifth graders traditionally are learning. Start out with asking them to read short passages and offering their opinions in a paragraph of 3 to 4 sentences. For reluctant writers, start with asking them question about the passage and ask them to write down a favorite part, main idea or other simple task to start. Write Shop has a complete writing curriculum with user-friendly teacher guide to make the process easier. They also have a free placement quiz to find the right program for your kiddo.
Move on to book reports with an introduction, body and conclusion You can start with writing prompts that ask kids to explore their feelings or offer their opinions. Here’s a few to get started that can also offer good talking points around the dinner table.
Kids who love reading may be getting more involved in full-length novels. If you have a reluctant reader, think outside the box. Download audiobooks on subjects they like and pair them with study guides or let them choose an eBook. Offer reading materials that have short bursts of info about subjects they love, such as in “Guinness Book of World Records” or the annual “World Almanac.”
Reluctant readers can listen to an audiobook and then write a letter to the main character. They can ask questions or offer their opinion about the character’s actions or dilemmas. If they are into video, they can pretend to interview the main character with questions on index cards. Get creative and allow your 5th grader to explore their interests, consider their perspective on situations and expand their writing and reading skills. Scholastic has a section where students in grades 3-12 can share their written reviews of books online. Kids can also see what other kids are reading and may be inspired to pick up a new book.
Ramping up Research Skills
Gathering info from an array of sources on a topic of their choice is a large part of fifth grade skills. Kids will learn how to synthesize info and summarize ideas. Here’s an anchor chart to start.
- Steps to Research
- List the questions that you have on a specific topic.
- Categorize the questions.
- Find the answers.
- Add information to each of the categories
- Decide on 3 categories for the essay’s body paragraphs.
Enter the Idioms
This is the year that similes, onomatopoeia, idioms and figurative language make a big impact on your child’s expanding education. The Bazillions on YouTube make learning about similes and metaphors fun for kids who have a hard time paying attention and Gettable Grammar is a little more in-depth. Once they get the hang of figurative language, introduce poetry to show how it can be used to be funny, dramatic or introspective. Ask them how the poem made them feel and why as you explore more metaphors and similes.
This is also the year Shakespeare is introduced and his impact on language. A good way to get kids interested is to show how his plots and characters have been used in modern films and plots. There are adaptations for children of his many plays that are easily understood. Check out books on how to teach kids about Shakespeare at the local library.
Math for Moving Forward
This year kids need to get those fractions and multiplication concepts down pat. Having a solid grasp of the math facts and fractions can help them with the harder concepts coming their way in the next few years. Play dice games to get them into a good mood. We bought a tub of dice with fractions a few years back after losing the ones we hoarded from finds at thrift stores.
Bridge the Gap Math breaks down the important math concepts for older kids. Lessons are a page at a time and the author, a longtime teacher, has lesson plans for parents to be able to easily talk to kids about the math concept they are working on. It’s all the important parts paired down into manageable lessons to help kids finally get those fractions and pre-algebra info.
Kids need to learn common equivalences between ratios, fractions percentages and decimals. Look for units that break down the relationships between these measurement groupings. Area, diameter, radius and circumference need to be a big part of the math curriculum to deepen their knowledge of the fundamentals of geometry. If you have a kiddo that loves math, introduce pre-algebra and solve for X. Combine writing with math and have kids create their own world problems for parents or siblings to solve.
Dice games are a great way to consider the probability of a given event as a fraction, percent and decimal.
The greatest common factor and least common multiple can be a stumbling block. Here’s a few ideas to help kids get this foundational concept.
Science and Such
The structure of plant and animal cells and probe photosynthesis can be covered at home. If you have a microscope, kids can see the membrane, nucleus, cytoplasm and organelles of organism cells. Or you can ask the local library or community college if you can bring your kids or small group in to use their slides and microscopes.
The periodic table should be introduced with the base concept of elements and how they are organized. There are many fun games and puzzles to help kids memorize the more well-known elements.