Fifth Grade

It’s the last year of elementary school! This year, students will cement the skills they have learned to date and will begin to build the foundation for the middle school. Through collaboration and independent learning, students will experience social stimulation and self-guided exploration.

Practice. Refine. Grow. These three words guide the fifth-grade experience.

This webpage provides an overview of what your child will learn by the end of fifth grade, as directed by the Iowa Core, our statewide academic standards. The Iowa Core standards focus on key concepts in mathematics, literacy, science, social studies, and 21st Century skills.


This is the final year that focuses on numbers, operations, and fractions. Your child must have an understanding of fractions because even simple equations cannot be solved without them. Attention on using whole numbers to understand computation comes mostly to a close this year and multiplying and dividing fractions becomes a major focus.

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

  • Add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators (e.g., 2 ¼ – 1 1⁄3), and solve word problems of this kind.

  • Multiply fractions, divide fractions in limited cases and solve related word problems (e.g., find the area of a rectangle with fractional side lengths; determine how many 1⁄3-cup servings are in 2 cups of raisins; determine the size of a share if 9 people share a 50-pound sack of rice equally, or if 3 people share ½ pound of chocolate equally).

  • Generalize the place-value system to include decimals and calculate with decimals to the hundredths place (two places after the decimal).

  • Multiply whole numbers efficiently (1,638 × 753) and divide whole numbers in simple cases (6,971 by 63).

  • Understand the concept of volume and solve word problems that involve volume.

  • Graph points in the coordinate plane (two dimensions).

Math Resources for Parents

English Language Arts & Literacy

Your child will read from a wide and deep range of high-quality, increasingly challenging fiction and nonfiction materials that derive from diverse cultures and time periods. A key to his or her continued success will be to build knowledge about subjects through research projects and respond analytically to literary and informational sources. Your child will write stories or essays that are several paragraphs long. He or she also will gain control over many conventions of grammar, usage, and punctuation.

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

  • Identify and judge evidence that supports particular ideas in an author’s argument to change a reader’s point of view.

  • Write opinions that offer reasoned arguments and provide facts and examples that are logically grouped to support the writer’s point of view.

  • Write stories, real or imaginary, that unfold naturally and develop the plot with dialogue, description, and effective pacing of the action.

  • Come to classroom discussions prepared, and then participate fully and engage thoughtfully with others (e.g., contribute accurate, relevant information; elaborate on the remarks of others; synthesize ideas).

  • Expand, combine, and reduce sentences to improve meaning, interest, and style of writing.

  • Produce writing on the computer.


In fifth-grade, help students formulate answers to questions such as: “When matter changes, does its weight change? Can new substances be created by combining other substances? How does matter cycle through ecosystems? How do shadows or relative lengths of day and night change from day-to-day? How does the appearance of some stars change in different seasons?” By studying systems, your child will learn that objects and organisms do not exist in isolation and are connected to, interact with, and are influenced by each other.

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

  • Use and represent data to study the relationships between objects in the solar system and the impact of those relationships on patterns of events, as seen from Earth.

  • Develop models to describe how matter and energy cycle through plants and animals, and the ecosystems within which they live.

  • Apply math skills and understanding of scale to measure volume and recognize the need for units that express quantities of weight, time, temperature, and other variables during investigations of properties and interactions of matter

  • Independently maintain science journals to record observations, thoughts, ideas, and models by creating diagrams, representing data and observations with plots and tables, and support these with written text or take measurements to determine the effects of weathering and erosion on shaping the land.

Social Studies

In fifth grade, students learn about how the founding documents of the United States were developed and how these documents guide decisions. Students explore rights and responsibilities as members of society and active participants of civic life.

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

  • Determine the credibility of sources.

  • Construct responses to compelling and supporting questions with evidence.

  • Explain the processes used to change rules and laws.

  • Demonstrate ways to monitor how money is spent and saved.

  • Explain how economic, political, and social contexts shaped people’s perspectives at a given time in history.

  • Explore the content and meaning of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

  • Analyze Iowa’s role in civil rights history.

21st Century Skills

Your child will continue to practice fitness skills and begin to understand the long-term benefits of being physically active. Students will learn to accept constructive criticism, strive to complete high-quality work, and collaborate with classmates. They will explore concepts related to good financial decision-making and responsible citizenship.

Examples of Your Child’s Work at School:

  • Use technology (e.g., pedometers, Wii physical activity games) to improve fitness and have fun.

  • Identify opportunities for leadership and service in the classroom, school, state, and nation.

  • Apply prior knowledge of technology to learning how to use new technologies/software.

  • Identify and organize materials needed for a task.

  • Explain the difference between short-term and long-term financial goals and why it is important to have both.

Source: Iowa Core Parent Guides from the Iowa Department of Education.
Read the Iowa Core Parent Guide (English) and Iowa Core Parent Guide (Spanish).
Read the complete standards on the Iowa Core website.