Fourth and Fifth Grades

‘Main Lessons’ are comprised of rotating units, approximately 8-10 weeks each, that delve into a subject with a multidisciplinary approach. The 4th/5th grade units of study are thoughtfully designed to meet the developmental and intellectual needs of our oldest students, who are supported to expand their social, emotional, and intellectual horizons. Literacy, handwork, art, and mathematics are all woven into the Main Lesson, giving 4th/5th graders the opportunity to synthesize and integrate the reading, writing, handwork, and numeracy skills that they have built throughout their primary school years.


Each child records their learning in their individual lesson book – a student-created textbook - by writing about what they are studying and creating a pictorial representation (drawing or painting) to accompany it. By the end of a unit, each child has created a beautiful record of their learning journey.

This rhythmic and holistic approach to teaching is inclusive for learners of all kinds, providing the opportunity to hone talents and concurrently work on areas of relative struggle. With their heads, their hearts, and their hands, our Upper Primary students lead the way.


The classroom is a place of respect, thoughtfulness, challenge, freedom and curiosity.


School Day: 8:20 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. with the option of Extended Day through 5:10 p.m.


Language Arts

A balanced approach is most effective in children’s reading and writing development.

For reading and writing teachers use Reader's and Writer's Workshop curricula, developed at Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.

Below are key elements of our rich and balanced language arts program:


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At Nantucket Lighthouse School, we use Bridges in Mathematics developed by The Math Learning Center. Math in the Fourth and Fifth grades focus on forging meaningful connections between what children understand conceptually and the conventional symbols and procedures used to represent mathematical concepts.

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Social Studies


Following a two year rhythm, the Upper Primary curriculum seeks to educate students about freedom and equality through units focusing on: 1. West African folktales, culture, and history 2. slavery and 3. the Civil Rights Movement. The study of West African culture provides a rich picture of thriving, advanced cultures (specifically the kingdoms of Ghana, Songhay and Mali).

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During botany and astronomy units, students explore the ground below and the sky above. Upper Primary students engage in scientific thinking and scientific habits of mind by learning to collect data and observations, conduct and record experiments, ask objective questions, and explore the natural world with respect and care.

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Physical Education

Weekly Physical Education classes include exercising gross motor skills through running, jumping, hopping, climbing, balancing, throwing, and catching. There is an emphasis on collaborative games and good sportspersonship.


In 4th and 5th grade music, students have built a solid amount of musical experience in the earlier gradesIn music, students sing songs from American folk repertoire, popular music, and around the world. Students deepen their understanding of music notation, including how to read and write simple rhythms and melodies. They also expand their abilities with songs and rounds, aiming for more independence with both singing and instrumental accompaniment. Students learn to accompany simple songs on the keyboard (one per student) and learn the layout of tones with the goal of playing keyboards together as a group.