Fifth Grade

As veteran students in the elementary school, fifth graders develop their leadership skills and independence through various experiences and projects throughout the year. This year is students’ first opportunity to act as the teachers, rather than the students, in cross-grade learning and to lead their teams in color war. In addition, fifth graders progress from teacher-guided reading groups to student-led book clubs, as well as from teacher-led chumash study to independent chevrutot. As students become budding middle-schoolers and adolescents, we aim to provide the support and guidance students need to navigate both the intellectual and social challenges they inevitably face.  


The overarching theme of fifth grade Ivrit is Ochel, Food. Utilizing the Chaverim B’Ivrit series, which we generously supplement with our own original materials, we organize lessons in vocabulary, grammar, writing, and special projects around our theme.


  • Building vocabulary

  • Conjugating verbs in present and past tense

  • Writing expanded sentences that incorporate adjectives

  • Speaking with new grammar skills and vocabulary


In Chumash, we help students build their skills for independent Torah study. This year, we learn Sefer Shemot, perakim 1 - 20. By mid-year, students learn daily with a chevruta. With the definitions of the most difficult words, students answer guiding questions as they learn each perek. One particular highlight of our Chumash curriculum is the unit in which the students learn the entire section of the makkot, the ten plagues, independently, with their study partners. This is a wonderful experience and is supplemented by review sessions in which the teachers point out relevant patterns and ideas they may have missed.


  • Answering comprehension questions in Hebrew sentences orally and in writing

  • Identifying shorashim and the speaker within each pasuk

  • Differentiating between peshat and drash explanations of textual difficulties

  • Using Rashi to understand textual difficulties


Students study Sefer Shoftim, perakim 1 - 15. As students become more independent in Chumash, they apply the same skills to their study of Navi. As in Chumash, students aim to learn the text independently with a chevruta.  


  • Writing accurate summaries of perakim using supporting details

  • Comparing similar and repeating stories throughout the sefer

  • Completing a creative project, demonstrating an understanding of the perakim


This is the year when our students are exposed for the first time to the treasures of the oral tradition, the Torah Shebe'al Peh. Since the interplay between the written and oral laws is key to any later study of Torah, our curriculum begins with an introduction to the whole concept of the oral law and to Mishnah in particular. Students then study the first five perakim of Masechet Brachot which focus on the Shema and Shemoneh Esrei.


  • Locating a perek in the Mishna

  • Identifying different opinions and themes in Mishna

  • Analyzing repeating structure of individual mishnayot

  • Supporting analysis of mishnayot with proofs from various opinions in the Mishna


Each week, students review the parsha using text, videos, and slideshows made by students, teachers, and other Torah study resources. Students learn specific commentaries related to the parsha to enhance their understanding and depth of study. Students also have the opportunity hear a d'var Torah from Morah Sarah that brings to live the values imparted in that week’s portion with modern day stories and applications.


  • Summarizing weekly parsha based on multimedia presentations

  • Answering questions using commentaries

  • Applying knowledge of parsha to real-life situations through weekly divrei Torah


In fifth grade, students approach the study of chagim with a greater level of sophistication and depth. They examine the important ideas and halachot of each holiday, sometimes using classical texts including the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, megillot, and the Haggadah Shel Pesach. Students complete projects on each chag, including creating their own Haggadah with a d'var Torah from each member of their class.  


  • Studying and analyzing original text of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch

  • Answering questions using textual evidence

  • Studying Megillot

  • Writing divrei Torah based on texts learned in class


Fifth graders develop their analytical thinking skills through the reading of fiction and nonfiction texts. In guided reading groups, students meet with a teacher to read and discuss novels. They begin to examine the author’s intentions within each narrative and deconstruct characters in order to understand their motivations and actions. Fifth grade novels include: The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, and Poppy by Avi.  

Towards the end of the year, students have the opportunity to participate in independent book clubs. In these clubs, students manage their own calendar for reading by the assigned deadline, engage in conversation using guiding questions, define new vocabulary, and demonstrate their understanding of the text through a collaborative project. Some projects have included a movie trailer for the book, an interview with a character, and a comic strip of a book’s chapter.  


  • Identifying the main idea; figurative language, similes, metaphors; elements of plot

  • Inferencing based on context clues and textual nuance

  • Connecting the text to historical events, cultural perspectives, and personal events

  • Analyzing the author’s intentions within a text


Students solidify their expository skills through daily writing across the curriculum. They write and revise both paragraphs and essays with consistent and frequent teacher feedback. We emphasize writing with clarity, focusing on word choice, and using new vocabulary. From summaries of current events’ articles to creative responses to literature, students continue to learn how to express themselves through the written word in every subject.  


  • Expanding and combining sentences with conjunctions

  • Writing more concisely

  • Organizing paragraphs and essays using outlines

  • Using commas, apostrophes, elements of grammar and punctuation

  • Revising multiple drafts with teacher feedback to learn from mistakes and produce best work

  • Typing with proper fingering

Social Studies

In social studies, we delve into the study of America’s history, New York’s history, and our history. Our year begins with Westward Expansion. Students look at the growth of the United States’ political map and study the history through primary and secondary sources.  Students also create a fictional pioneer journal that traces the journey west as we learn about real pioneers’ experiences.

We then transition into New York State history, specifically the building of the Erie Canal and the consequential expansion of commerce in the area. This unit leads into a study of the influx of immigrants in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Students interview family members and learn about their own histories of immigration to prepare for Intergenerational Day. Visits to the Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale throughout the year also complement these studies. We conclude the year with a study of modern New York City in which we examine how the city has shifted from 18th century immigration to today.


  • Note-taking and highlighting nonfiction texts

  • Applying and synthesizing information read to written assignments and projects

  • Discussing historical events in a collaborative forum

  • Presenting independent and group projects


In fifth grade, students focus on solidifying their number sense and developing problem-solving skills. Students begin the year with a unit on place value from thousandths through billions, using the four basic operations. In the geometry unit, students define geometric terms, name and measure angles and calculate the perimeter and area of quadrilaterals. Students also complete an extensive unit on fractions, including adding and subtracting, simplest form and converting improper fractions to mixed numbers.

The advanced fifth grade math group follows the fifth grade curriculum and emphasis is placed on higher order concept development and critical thinking skills. Each Friday, students learn problem-solving strategies and techniques relevant to SAR's participation in the national Mathematical Olympiad program.


In science, fifth graders enhance their understanding of the scientific method through experimentation and lab report-writing. Students first study the physics of light and the properties of the sun, which then segues into a unit on the anatomy of the human eye. In the second half of the year, students study microbiology -- microbes, viruses, and animal and plant cells. Towards the end of the year, we introduce basic concepts of chemistry, including acids and bases, mixtures, solutions, and atoms.  


  • Researching

  • Applying the scientific method and facts studied to produce creative projects

  • Experimenting   

Israel Curriculum

Beginning in first grade, students study the history and landscape of Israel through a new and innovative curriculum, Eretz Yisrael Throughout the Year, developed by the Lookstein Center. Structured around the themes of Asara B'Tevet, Tu BiShvat, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim, the curriculum provides four comprehensive lessons to be taught on or around each of these dates.  The lessons bring the miracle of Israel to life and feature diaries, simulations, time-machines, moral dilemmas and debates. The specifics of each grade’s units of study can be found in the Judaic Studies section.

Fifth Grade Israel Curriculum

  • Book #1: The Valley and the Mountain

    • Exploring the history and locations within Judea and Samaria, including: Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, Beit-El, Shilo, Shechem, the Samaritans, Modiin, Dead Sea and the events at Masada in both ancient and modern contexts  

  • Book #2: The Second Aliyah

    • Learning about the foundations of the future State during the Second Aliyah

    • Exploring the challenges of the Chalutzim through Rachel the poetess, Russian and Yemenite olim, A.D. Gordon, Ben Gurion, Hashomer and Trumpeldor, Dizengoff and others, as well as the institutions that were the forerunners of the government, the Jewish Agency, the Histadrut union, and the city of Tel Aviv

  • Book #3: A Tale of Two Wars (1967-1973)

    • Reading the story of two heroes: the Israeli spy, Eli Cohen, also known as Kamal Amin Ta'abet, the confidante of the highest ranks in the Syrian military, and Zvika Gringold, who stood alone on the Golan Heights for 20 hours against a whole battalion of Syrian tanks…and won

  • Book #4: Beyond the Walls (1850-1947)

    • Studying the history of the city of Jerusalem during the 100 years before Israel became a state and the Jews who were there at that time.

Fifth Grade Highlights

  • Melave Malka and Learning

    • Saturday evening, students and parents gather for learning, singing, and noshing together.  

  • Overnight Camping Trip

    • Students participate in team building activities and environmental awareness learning at a nature center.

  • New York City Trip

    • Students visit the Top of the Rock to view Manhattan’s grid and the different neighborhoods they have studied.  Students also take a tour bus around Midtown Manhattan to learn about and view historical buildings and parks.   

  • Intergenerational Day

    • Parents, grandparents, and other special guests visit the fifth grade’s “Living Museum” filled with family heirlooms and other artifacts.  Students and families participate in workshops given by parents and grandparents. The day provides an opportunity for students and their guests to learn about others’ family history.

  • Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale

    • Each class visits once a week for one month, getting to know residents and participating in activities with them.