The Humanities model is the integration of reading and writing along with history and geography. Society Shapes the Individual is the overarching theme in writing throughout the year. In this model, students typically divide their time between reading and writing workshops coupled with the integration of history and geography. The reading workshop includes practicing reading comprehension strategies, such as making connections, questioning, visualizing, inferring, determining importance, and synthesizing information. The writing workshop includes practicing the writing process, using the “Six Traits of Writing,” grammar lessons, and vocabulary study. Students will learn the ideas and concepts behind the words of our language by using Michael Clay Thompson’s Caesar’s English during the year. From Paulsen’s Hatchet through Lowry’s The Giver, the students read literature associated with the theme of fifth grade Humanities. Historical concepts further the study of this theme covering the Age of Exploration through the American Civil War. As such, students read and write across multiple genres in a disciplined and interactive classroom where project-based assessments meet the learning needs and styles of all students.


Fifth grade mathematics uses the Haese Mathematics (MYP Year 1) second edition textbook. Guided by an understanding of place value, students practice whole number and decimal arithmetic. A study of fractions includes addition and subtraction of fractions of unlike denominators, the product of fractions, and division of a fraction by a whole number. Students work with ratio, percentage, average, rate, and line graphs. Students study the geometry of angles, the triangle, parallelogram, rhombus, trapezoid, cubes, and cuboids.

Discussions, activities, investigations, and research exercises are used throughout the units to develop conceptual understanding. Students are assessed on the following criterion: (A) Knowing and Understanding, (B) Investigating Patterns, (C) Communicating, and (D) Applying Mathematics in Real-life Contexts.


A common theme of fifth grade is looking at energy. Students will develop their understanding of important qualitative ideas about energy including that the interactions of objects can be explained and predicted using the concept of transfer of energy from one object or system of objects to another, and the total change of energy in any system is always equal to the total energy transferred into or out of the system.

In their study of ecosystems students will collect, analyze and interpret data, develop models, construct arguments and demonstrate a deeper understanding of resources, the cycling of matter, and the flow of energy in ecosystems. When studying organisms’ systems and cells students will look at a more microscopic level to understand living things by investigating the cell, its structure, and how groups of cells contribute to the function of living things. In understanding cells, students will have a better context for the plant process of photosynthesis and the movement of matter and energy within a living system.

Students will be introduced to how atomic and molecular interactions explain the properties of matter that we see and feel. They will investigate properties of matter and begin to explore states of matter and how matter changes from one state to another. In these investigations, students will continue to apply their understanding of energy. Students will also explore the difference between energy and temperature, learn the basics of the thermal energy, and apply what they know to engineer a device that applies their understanding of these concepts. Students will continue to build on science and engineering skills in their application of knowledge. The core goals of the course are listed below. These skills are intricately tied to the standards for assessment for each content area.

Science Core Goals

  • Develop science and engineering skills through hands on investigations.
  • Gather, interpret, and synthesize data to make appropriate conclusions.
  • Construct and support arguments with accurate and relevant evidence.
  • Improve skills in scientific writing.
  • Work cooperatively with lab partners to successfully complete projects, apply concepts, and share arguments in an intellectually respectful manner.
  • Design, create, and/or use models to represent scientific ideas or concepts.
  • Communicate ideas effectively with others.


The primary goal of this class is to develop the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students aim to achieve communicative competence, which means providing students with the essential tools to communicate successfully in simple daily-life situations. The most exciting element of this course involves introducing students to the various cultures and regions of the Spanish-speaking world and appreciating its richness. Topics include activities and pastimes, sports, professions, getting to know people, giving and receiving directions, countries and nationalities, taking a trip, finding accommodations, traveling by airplane, dining at a restaurant, and going to the bank.  


The Madison Country Day School Music Department strives to provide a comprehensive music education for each child, promoting a balance of discipline, creativity, and aesthetic understanding.

When starting middle school in fifth grade, students choose an instrument (piano, voice, violin, viola, cello, bass, trumpet, trombone, french horn, oboe, clarinet, saxophone, flute, or percussion). Beginning in fifth grade, and throughout middle school, students receive  private or semi-private music lessons on their instrument. These lessons occur during the school day and are included in tuition. All fifth grade students participate in a combined fifth and sixth grade ensemble (band, choir, or orchestra) determined by their instrument. These young musicians perform in a Winter and Spring concert and can also participate in two recitals each year. Depending on their ensemble, students have other performance opportunities, both on and off campus. Fifth and sixth grade students receive designated instruction time in music theory during their ensembles. Units include major vs. minor tonality, rhythm/meter, and scale construction/key signatures. A major highlight is the annual composition unit. MCDS music students grades 5-12 are given an account with Noteflight, a web-based notation software, which they use for composition as well as music assessments.


This course consists primarily of studio work, creating 2D and 3D artworks, with an emphasis on learning materials and techniques. The history of art and how to discuss it plays a role in the class as students are encouraged to reflect on their own and others’ artwork. While reviewing the elements and principles of art, students also receive assignments that focus on problem solving and open-ended creative thinking. Projects for this year include creating an all-over surface print, designing a book cover, a mixed media painting, and a ceramics unit that details different methods of construction. 

Physical Education

Fitness activities and sport related skill practices build proficiency and teach strategy. Units include soccer, nitro ball (volleyball skills), paddling, tennis, kickball, badminton, basketball, rugby, golf, fitness, softball, bowling, track and field, running, gymnastics, dance, skiing, and disc golf. Students develop the confidence and motivation to participate in organized and individual physical activities where they learn leadership, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. Health education is integrated within the physical education curriculum. The program emphasizes lifelong fitness. School-sponsored sports include soccer, girls’ volleyball, basketball, spirit squad, track and field, cross country, tennis, ultimate frisbee, and crew.