Math: 5th Grade

As math becomes more complex in 5th Grade, learn the topics covered and discover activities to help your child at home.
By Shira Ackerman, MA
Jan 28, 2013



Math: 5th Grade

Jan 28, 2013

In 5th grade, students practice more complex computation with fractions, decimals, and larger numbers, using all four basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They also often solve equations that require multiple steps and must be solved in a specific order (for example, equations in parentheses mush be solved first). 5th grade math also emphasizes real life situations to help students strengthen their skills and solve problems that occur in their own lives. To do this, it often uses real-life objects and math tools like money, rulers, and visuals to teach new concepts. As in previous grades, 5th graders are often asked to explain how they solve problems in order to ensure that they truly understand the concepts underlying the equations they solve.

In order to build math skills, your 5th grader:

  • Uses addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to solve word problems.
  • Adds, subtracts, multiplies, and divides multi-digit numbers.
  • Practices using parentheses and brackets in equations, knowing the proper order to use to solve the equations.
  • Writes, adds, subtracts, multiplies, compares, and rounds decimals.
  • Solves division equations that include remainders and divides numbers that have up to 4 digits by numbers that have up to 2 digits.
  • Adds, subtracts, multiplies, and divides fractions with different denominators.
  • Plots fractions in the correct order on a line graph.
  • Solves word problems that measure distance, time, size, money, area, perimeter, and volume; uses whole numbers, fractions and decimals.
  • Estimates and predicts answers to word problems and equations based on knowledgeable guesses.
  • Understands the relationship between different units of measurement and can convert one unit to another (for example, centimeters to inches).
  • Plots coordinates on graphs and compares their distance and positions.
  • Follows a pattern or set of guidelines to create a number. For example: start with 5. Add 3 five times and subtract 1. What number are you left with? Students then do the same with another set of guidelines and understand and explain the connections between the two patterns.
  • Knows the qualities and different categories of 2-dimensional shapes. 

Math Activities

  • Change Your Order: Ask your child to solve equations that includes a necessary order using parentheses (this is called the "Order of Operations," or "PEMDAS"). Then take the same set of numbers, written in the same order, but change the equation by asking your child to put the parentheses in different places and group sets of number in different ways. After your child has solved this equation, compare the answers and discuss the difference between the two. Your child can also give you equations like these to solve.
  • Become Math Consultants: Ask family members and friends for “math problems” they have needed to solve in everyday life. Ask your child to solve these problems for them. Your child can also become the math consultant for this person in the future. If they have a real-life situation in which they need to solve a math problem, they could consult your child.
  • Create a Group Graph: Make a life-size graph (with horizontal and vertical axes) by putting tape or strips of paper down on the floor. Alternatively, use sticks or mark dirt and sand outside. Plot the numbers on the graph using cards with numbers written on them or write them out on the tape or paper. Assign different family members or friends a pair of coordinates. Everyone should then “plot” themselves and move to the correct place on the graph. Take turns calling out different coordinate pairs for a person to move to.
  • Quick Check: Since your child should be able to solve equations with ease, give her a variety of multiplication and division equations that use multi-digit numbers and see how many she can solve within a certain amount of time (for example, 4 minutes). Repeat this, either immediately after or at another point, to see if she can break her previous record.
Age 10