Grade 5

In fifth grade, the departmentalized curriculum is taught through the study of integrated themes that provide an engaging arena for skill development and build upon and expand boys’ interests. Boys connect different aspects of experience through these integrated themes, and they explore the richness of a topic through multidisciplinary study. Using these themes as a basis we integrate the language arts skills of oral and written language with the social studies components of geography, history, economics, and sociology. Whenever possible, the work the students are doing in math, science, art, music, language, library and design class are incorporated into our theme studies.

The themes for grade five are Ancient Greece, Ancient Mexico and The American Revolution. Fifth graders are still influenced by fantasy. Much of their outside reading deals with heroism, monsters, battles, animals, and survival, and they can easily relate to the study of mythology, war and ancient heroes. They are also able to identify with the daily lives of modern and ancient peoples. Theme-related research allows the boys both the freedom to explore their own questions and the responsibility to articulate and to disseminate their feelings. Boys study civilization and concepts such as the basic needs of humanity are unchanging. Although individuals have similar basic needs, they meet them in different ways determined by the geography of the region and the resources available. Present cultures are products of the past; cultures in ancient civilizations included organized economic, social, military and religious systems.

Core Curriculum

Continuing with the Bridges curriculum, boys estimate and solve equations involving the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of fractions and decimals; extend their understanding of more complex operations in multiplication and division; and develop computational strategies to understand volume within geometry. A key focus for all mathematical concepts is a deep understanding of the how and why of doing math. Boys discover how numbers and operations work together. They choose appropriate operations to solve problems and validate and explain solutions to problems.

Through active exploration of current and classical literature, students read, examine, and construct meaningful understanding of the different genres of writing. Vocabulary, grammar, and spelling instruction serve our students as they learn sophisticated ways to present their thoughts in writing. Using the 6+ Traits of Writing, students learn the importance of each component of the writing process. With varied written practice students learn to convey clearly, accurately, and purposefully what they intend to say.


Fifth grade social studies investigates the cultures of ancient Greece, ancient Mexico, and the events surrounding our American Revolution through the study of history and geography, as well as the use of historical novels, non-fiction books, mythology, research projects, and field trips. Our students seek to understand how these cultures are both different and similar, while discovering what can be learned from the past and understood in the context of the modern world. 

Fifth graders study are space and flight, planet research, weather, light and the eye, robotics, the reproductive system, ecology and biomes. Activities include simulated space missions, the straw rocket engineering project, the shuttle glider builder, the sheep eye dissection, and the stream study.

In fifth grade, students elect to pursue French, Latin, or Spanish for their middle school studies, embarking on an exciting journey into their chosen language and culture. Taught largely in the target language, the goal of the modern language courses is communication in both oral and written forms; whereas, Latin focuses primarily on fluent translation, though some aspects of spoken Latin are integrated into the courses. Boys complete Level 1 over the course of fifth and sixth grades.

Co-curricular Disciplines

Fifth grade music provides an outlet for boys to explore and create music through instrumental and vocal music classes. All boys in fifth grade participate in both chorus and instrumental ensembles, allowing for a unique approach so that they can interact with music in new and exciting ways. Boys choose and learn how to play a woodwind, brass, or string instrument. Fundamentals taught in class include instrument setup, posture, performance techniques, and reading music notation. In chorus, students establish a love for choral singing while developing important musical skills. Boys learn essential music theory to help them sight-sing, and breath and vocalize properly, and enhance their ability to match pitch with each other and the piano. Boys also have the opportunity to suggest repertoire. In addition, they have the opportunity to join the Middle School Orchestra and audition for the Chamber Players, High Tops Choral Ensemble, and Jazz Band.

Fifth graders continue their development in the fundamentals of art. The boys explore their theme-based curriculum and dive a little deeper into cultural art forms. Introductions to artists and traditional cultures play a key role in learning, but it is the student who makes that technique his own. We stretch canvases to paint, throw clay on the wheel, work with mixed mediums, and mold clay using the human figure as a base. Color is a huge element as we explore. We will also explore computer animation and graphic design. The final goal is for each boy to have ownership and confidence in his artwork.

Physical education focuses on sport-related activities, physical fitness, and recreational and lifetime activities. Emphasis is placed on refining specialized skills in sport-related activities, team-building activities, and simple game strategies. Fourteen sports activities are offered and include soccer, floor hockey, swimming, and baseball.

Fifth grade boys develop a city plan and layout for US's originally created Mobile Maze challenge. Boys are placed in teams to create their own version of a city on a 4'x 4'deck. They produce drawings and plans, and compete for accuracy and time. The boys are expected to meet the essential safety standards set while working on the shop floor. Introducing each boy to the machines and tools in wood shop enhances classroom discussions, demonstrations, and their hands-on experience.

Empowering our youngest leaders


The Fifth Grade Curriculum at a Glance

Ancient Greece
Ancient Mexico
The American Revolution


  • How are present cultures and their systems of economics, social structures, military organizations, religious beliefs products of past civilizations?
  • How does the geography of a region and the resources available affect the way people meet their changing needs?
  • When values within a culture differ, what systems are developed to accommodate individual and group needs?


In fifth grade, boys use the library to develop information literacy skills using books, magazines, websites, and databases. They learn how to locate information efficiently and how to use it effectively and responsibly. Boys discuss both fiction and nonfiction books and share recommendations with each other. Fifth graders use Schoology to find all library and research related resources, such as the library catalog, e-books, websites, databases, MLA formatting information, and book suggestions.


Shaker Heights Campus

20701 Brantley Road
Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122
GRADES Junior K-8
Phone: 216-321-8260

Hunting Valley Campus

2785 SOM Center Road
Hunting Valley, Ohio 44022
Phone: 216-831-2200
University School serves 870 boys in Junior Kindergarten to grade 12 on two campuses in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. The School’s mission is to inspire boys of promise to become young men of character who lead and serve. Dedicated faculty, rigorous curriculum, and experiential programs foster intellectual, physical, creative, and moral excellence. University School is a diverse and inclusive community where each boy is known and loved.