Why Fifth Grade at Friends Academy?

As the eldest students in Lower School, Friends Academy fifth graders are leaders to younger students while also looking up to older grades. Fifth grade begins a gradual transition to Middle School by mixing in Middle School specialists for art, music, and PE, as well as interscholastic athletics and an annual musical production.

The fifth grade academic curriculum focuses on solidifying essential math and writing skills while also thinking critically, investigating topics through research, solving problems, and exploring different perspectives. From the Columbian Exchange to world economics, students learn not just what happened and is happening, but why and how. Many projects take an interdisciplinary approach, and the classroom is often filled with conversation as students lend their voices and listen to others’ viewpoints.

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    Slide 1: Fifth graders complete the interdisciplinary Agents of Change project each spring as a capstone of their Lower School experience, using the knowledge they’ve built about community, cultures, the country, and the world.
  • grade5_agents-of-change2
    Slides 2-3: Students research their Agent of Change in Library class, alongside studies about choosing and properly citing reputable sources.
  • grade5_agents-of-change3
    Slides 2-3: Students research their Agent of Change in Library class, alongside studies about choosing and properly citing reputable sources.
  • grade5_agents-of-change4
    Slide 4: Students use the information to create a Ken Burns-style documentary film in iMovie – complete with an original score they write in Music class.
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    Slide 5: In Art class, students even paint a portrait of their changemaker!
  • grade5_agents-of-change6
    Slide 6: The documentaries and portraits are revealed to families, faculty, and fellow students at fifth grade’s Agents of Change Film Festival.

Just as important as building their academic stamina, fifth grade challenges students to grow their independence, social skills, and executive functioning – all critical to success in Middle School and beyond. Day-to-day learning in fifth grade is less teacher-managed than in previous grades, as students develop a deeper understanding of how they learn, how to use classroom tools to support their learning, and how to advocate for themselves when needed. Students complete Lower School and enter sixth grade understanding that they truly are agents of change, setting the stage for formal service learning in Middle School.

“[Friends] is a wonderful environment for my son to learn in. He feels so supported and is excited about learning.”

Parent of a fifth grade student

Features of the Fifth Grade Experience

  • A fifth grade student reads their work of poetry aloud.

    Writers’ Workshop

    Fifth grade writing follows a workshop model, allowing students to develop multiple ideas; revise, edit, and publish more authentic pieces; and deliver feedback independently.

  • Spanish Language

    In fourth and fifth grades, students have Spanish twice a week. Once they get to Middle School, they can continue studying Spanish or switch to Latin.

  • Fifth grade students at a cross-country meet.

    Interscholastic Athletics

    Along with Middle School students, fifth graders can take part in interscholastic athletics (soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, cross-country, track, and basketball).

  • Musical performance of The Little Mermaid.

    Fall Musical

    Each fall, fifth and sixth grade students make up the cast and crew of a musical production, with performances for families, fellow students, and the community. Recent plays have included Matilda, The Little Mermaid, and Peter Pan.

  • A Learning Specialist teaching a literacy class for fifth grade Sally Borden Program students.

    Sally Borden Program Class

    In fifth grade, a dedicated Sally Borden Program class serves students with language-based learning differences. SBP students mix daily with the entire grade for specials, recess, and community periods.

  • Fifth graders play basketball at recess.

    Two Recess Periods Per Day

    The fifth grade classroom looks out onto Friends Academy’s 65-acre campus. The Lower School recess area includes a playground, sand box, basketball court, and large field.

Meet the Fifth Grade Team

The fifth grade team at Friends Academy includes classroom teachers, specialists, and administrators. They work together to get to know each child personally and create a comprehensive, interdisciplinary education.

  • Alyson Gangi, Third Grade Teacher

    Alyson Gangi

    Fifth Grade Teacher
  • Alisha Nadeau, Fifth Grade Teacher

    Alisha Nadeau

    Fifth Grade Teacher
  • Carla Landreth, Fifth Grade Sally Borden Program Teacher

    Carla Landreth

    Fifth Grade Sally Borden Program Teacher
  • John Borowicz, Middle School Art Teacher

    John Borowicz

    Middle School Art Teacher
  • Kelly Matias

    Kelly Matias

    Spanish Teacher
  • Putnam Murdock, Middle School Music Teacher

    Putnam Murdock

    Middle School Music Teacher
  • Megan O'Brien, Learning Specialist

    Megan O’Brien

    Learning Specialist
  • Ann Richard

    Ann Richard

    Interim Librarian
  • Rebecca Vasa, Lower School Science Teacher

    Rebecca Vasa

    Lower School Science Teacher
  • Michael Williams, Middle School Physical Education Teacher

    Michael Williams

    Middle School Physical Education Teacher
  • Jamie Ross-Cory, Head of Lower School

    Jamie Ross-Cory

    Head of Lower School

Find a Place for Your Child in Fifth Grade at Friends Academy

Request more information about fifth grade or begin an application for your child today.

Fifth Grade Curriculum

At the end of each week, the fifth grade teacher sends out a newsletter to families with photos and updates about what students learned that week. (See a sample newsletter.)


Language Arts (Reading and Writing)

  • Focus on grammatical skills and understanding the specific role of each part of speech in a sentence
  • Explore a wide variety of literature including poetry, short stories, and novels (both fiction and non-fiction) through both independent and group reading
  • Develop well-articulated paragraphs (clear topic sentence, solid supporting evidence, and concluding statement)
  • Draft and revise written work using a critique process
  • Continue to practice typing and cursive writing


  • Understand factors, including concepts such as the greatest common factor and least common multiple
  • Routinely practice the order of operations to ready students for more complex mathematical concepts in Middle School
  • Work with exponential problem sets
  • Focus on utilizing fractions within operations
  • Use math skills to enhance understanding of economic concepts in interdisciplinary units with social studies

Social Studies

  • Explore the colonization of the U.S., including the arrival of the Puritans and the founding of Jamestown and Plymouth as distinct colonies
  • Analyze the effects of the Columbian Exchange on the global community, particularly on colonization
  • Understand economics, focusing on supply and demand and the influence of natural resources on an economy


  • Study the six major terrestrial biomes, including geography, climates, and plant and animal adaptations
  • Explore renewable vs. non-renewable energy sources and understand how different forms of energy work
  • Investigate Newton’s Three Laws of Motion by building experimental exhibits that demonstrate inertia, force, and action and reaction
  • Understand the water cycle, including watersheds, weather, and human influences on the environment

Physical Education

  • Promote physical movement and motor skill competency through activities including soccer, handball, basketball, volleyball, kickball, and ultimate frisbee
  • Practice skills such as communication, following the rules of the game, proper form and technique, spacing and body positioning, and team strategizing


  • Explore many different modes of image making and personal expression through art
  • Develop powers of observation, memory, and imagination and use them as springboards to create artwork
  • Empower students to feel that anything is possible, want to try new things, and allow themselves to make mistakes


  • Explore themes of freedom and independence in music, digging deeply into Samba Reggae as a foundation for music studies
  • Focus on rhythm, including writing and performing rhythms on drums as well as listening to and reflecting on the effects of a “good beat” in music
  • Study a through-line artist’s use of music to communicate messages
  • Use GarageBand to create original music on MacBooks


  • Continue to build Spanish language skills by reading simple stories and building vocabulary in context.
  • Grow confidence in speaking, writing, and reading in Spanish.


  • Review techniques and ethics of research, from searching databases and websites to including proper citations, and methods of organizing digital research (such as saving images on Google Drive)
  • Use digital databases and books to research major class projects, including interdisciplinary geography project and Agents of Change documentary film
  • Discover new books for independent reading time