An independent day school serving grades K-12 | St. Paul, MN

Grade 5

Grade 5 is a special year at SPA. As the capstone year for Lower School students, the Grade 5 experience prepares students for Middle School by emphasizing personal responsibility, organization, time management, more rigorous intellectual inquiry, leadership, and service to the larger community. Students in Grade 5 are expected to be leaders and models for the younger grades, and they live up to those expectations.


The Grade 5 curriculum is intentionally more challenging and prepares students for the increased rigor of Middle School. The continuation of two-person co-teaching teams and small class sizes means that faculty can be thoughtful about how best to encourage each individual student.

  • Language Arts instruction in Grade 5 builds upon the strong foundation established in earlier grades, using materials from Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop Units of Study. Students continue their work in Readers’ and Writers’ Workshop, fostering a love for reading and writing, and refining their skills and strategies in the genres of fiction and nonfiction. Fifth graders work closely with teachers and classmates as they investigate, discuss, and respond to texts. Students have ample opportunities to write for different purposes, with a particular focus on the genres of personal narrative, poetry, and research-based argument. Fifth-graders regularly collaborate with teachers and peers as they develop independence and fluency with their craft.
  • Math instruction in Grade 5 continues the Primary Math curriculum and highlights mathematical modeling and problem-solving as the focus of learning. Critical content areas in Grade 5 include ratios, operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals, as well as properties of triangles, quadrilaterals, and three-dimensional figures. 
  • In Social Studies, students explore North American geography and climate and investigate the cultures of Indigenous Nations, prior to European contact. Students delve into a wide variety of both primary and secondary sources and take on more independent work through research projects and presentations. In addition, fifth graders participate in service-learning projects throughout the year, culminating in the Lower School Bazaar in May. Through planning for and hosting the annual Bazaar, including raising funds and donating proceeds, fifth-graders gain meaningful hands-on experience with economics, citizenship, and government.

Grade 5 students continue to participate in Minis, short-term electives for students in Grades 3-5 taught by Lower School homeroom and specialist teachers. Minis offer students an opportunity to learn new skills outside the classroom and collaborate with different students and adults in the community. Minis offered in recent years include: Fishing, drama, flag football, exploration of American Sign Language, advanced recorder study, drawing, cribbage, building miniature worlds, and bird watching.

Leadership: Throughout the course of the Lower School years, students look forward to Grade 5 because of the unique leadership opportunities it brings.

  • A highly anticipated rite of passage in the Grade 5 year is each student's Emcee Day. Every Grade 5 student leads one of the Lower School's twice-weekly all-school assemblies. In a preview of the Grade 12 Senior Speech, Grade 5 students prepare with a teacher in the weeks leading up to the Emcee Day on their presentation, and to work through the inevitable apprehension of being on stage in front of hundreds of people.
  • Students in Grade 5 serve as Admission Tour Guides for prospective Lower School families who visit the Goodrich Campus. Tour Guides work with SPA's Admission staff on public speaking skills and answering the questions that prospective parents may have.
  • Grade 5 students also take on important leadership roles within the school: they run the recycling and lost-and-found programs; they visit classrooms to work with younger students; they serve as student advisors on the Lower School's "Principal's Council", and they assist Lower School faculty and staff with a variety of tasks in "Grade 5 jobs" throughout the year.

Grade 5 photo galleries