Fifth Grade

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Fifth Grade Parents' Guide to Student Success

English Language Arts & Literacy

In 5th grade, your child will read widely and deeply from a range of high-quality, increasingly challenging fiction and nonfiction from diverse cultures and time periods. Building knowledge about subjects through research projects and responding analytically to literary and informational sources will be key to your child’s continuing success. Your child will write stories or essays that are several paragraphs long. By devoting significant time and effort to producing numerous written pieces over short and extended timeframes throughout the year, he or she also will gain control over many conventions of grammar, usage, and punctuation as well as learn ways to make himself or herself understood.

A Sample of What Your Child Will Be Working on in 5th Grade

  • Summarizing the key details of stories, dramas, poems, and nonfiction materials, including their themes or main ideas
  • Identifying and judging evidence that supports particular ideas in an author’s argument to change a reader’s point of view
  • Integrating information from several print and digital sources to answer questions and solve problems
  • Writing opinions that offer reasoned arguments and provide facts and examples that are logically grouped to support the writer’s point of view
  • Writing stories, real or imaginary, that unfold naturally and developing the plot with dialogue, description, and effective pacing of the action
  • Coming to classroom discussions prepared, then engaging fully and thoughtfully with others (e.g., contributing accurate, relevant information; elaborating on the remarks of others; synthesizing ideas)
  • Reporting on a topic or presenting an opinion with his or her own words, a logical sequence of ideas, sufficient facts and details, and formal English when appropriate
  • Expanding, combining, and reducing sentences to improve meaning, interest, and style of writing
  • Building knowledge of academic words with an emphasis on those that signal a contrast in ideas or logical relationships, such as on the other hand, similarly, and therefore
  • Producing writing on the computer


Fifth grade is a milestone and a pivot point for students. The classroom focus on arithmetic during the elementary grades will develop into a more formal study of algebra in middle school. To be ready for algebra, students must have an understanding of fractional arithmetic, in part because even simple equations cannot be solved without fractions. Because of this, whole-number arithmetic comes mostly to a close in 5th grade, while multiplying and dividing fractions becomes a major focus.

A Sample of What Your Child Will Be Working on in 5th Grade

  • Adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators (e.g., 21 ⁄4 – 11 ⁄3), and solving word problems of this kind
  • Multiplying fractions; dividing fractions in simple cases; and solving related word problems (e.g., finding the area of a rectangle with fractional side lengths; determining how many 1 ⁄3-cup servings are in 2 cups of raisins; determining the size of a share if 9 people share a 50-pound sack of rice equally or if 3 people share 1 ⁄2 pound of chocolate equally)
  • Generalizing the place-value system to include decimals, and calculating with decimals to the hundredths place (two places after the decimal)
  • Multiplying whole numbers quickly and accurately, for example 1,638 × 753, and dividing whole numbers in simple cases, such as dividing 6,971 by 63
  • Understanding the concept of volume, and solving word problems that involve volume
  • Graphing points in the coordinate plane (two dimensions) to solve problems
  • Analyzing mathematical patterns and relationships

Help Your Child Learn at Home

English Language Arts & Literacy

  • Invite your child to read his or her writing out loud to other family members. Ask questions about your child’s word choices and ideas.
  • Discuss your family stories and history. Encourage your child to ask relatives questions about their lives. Put the information together in an album or brainstorm different ways to tell family tales, such as poems or short stories.
  • Go to a play or musical with your child. Discuss the way the actors bring the words to life.  


Look for “word problems” in real life. Some 5th grade examples might include:

  • Doing arithmetic with decimals, for example when balancing a checkbook.
  • Multiplying with fractions — for example, if you used about 2 ⁄3 of a 3 ⁄4-cup measure of vegetable stock, then how much stock did you use? About how much is left?
  • Using the length, width, and depth of a garden plot to determine how many bags of garden soil to buy.