Fourth and Fifth Grades

Do you want to save a baby blobfish?

Making a difference

Fourth and fifth graders complete their study of the civil rights movement by taking on a social justice project of their own. Choosing their own topics, they research history and current events. In a persuasive essay, they explain the issues and make their argument. They design posters to inform and motivate their classmates to take action.

And that’s how Ring Mountain found out about the blobfish—because, as one fifth grader wrote in his project on endangered species, ugly animals need to be saved, too. Using humor, graphic design, evidence, and logic, he made the case that environmental justice includes all animals, not just the cute ones.

Learning that matters

Students in fourth and fifth grade are passionate about their world and serious about their work. Our curriculum engages students with vital issues and big questions. Working together with their teacher, they create a community of learners, thinkers, and creators.

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Language Arts

In fourth and fifth grade, students read challenging books that introduce complex themes. In coordination with the social studies curriculum, historical fiction brings the past to life. Students are introduced to reading and writing skills that prepare them for success in middle school:  note-taking, annotation, literary terms. Sustained writing gives students the opportunity to explore revision, voice, and organization. Through group discussion and individual work, students become confident and engaged readers and writers.


Math in the fourth and fifth grades uses familiar routines to introduce new concepts. Pattern recognition moves to plotting coordinates and deciphering cuneiform numbers. Manipulatives connect decimals, fractions and percentages. Working together in small groups, students strategize problem-solving techniques and compare results. Real-world challenges move students to master measurement and conversion. 


In fourth and fifth grade, Lower School students use the Middle School science lab for the first time. With the new surroundings, there’s a new sense of purpose in the classroom. Labs and experiments encourage students to build drinking-straw structures to withstand earthquakes, or mix a batch of slime to study polymers. As they study topics in earth, physical and life sciences, students engage with the scientific method to test hypotheses and draw conclusions.

Social Studies

An integrated humanities program offers a multi-disciplinary study of the histories of the Americas. Beginning with Mesoamerican cultures and Native Americans, students compare and contrast English and Spanish colonization. After studying the American Revolution and the Constitution, the class focuses on European expansion in California in preparation for a living history overnight at Fort Ross. Further studies cover the American Civil War, western expansion, South American independence movements and American immigration.

Social and Emotional Learning

Fourth and fifth graders work together to build consensus and community. Individually, they develop the capacity to sit in meditation for extended periods, to identify and articulate their feelings with clarity, and to consider situations from each others’ perspectives. As a group, they learn roles and skills for productive teamwork, and the techniques needed to resolve conflicts when they arise. The fourth and fifth grade classroom provides students with the both the warm hearth and the wide horizon they need to launch into Middle School.