Grades 4-5

Las Tortugas

The Las Tortugas are a wonderfully diverse group of 9 and 10 year old learners (4th and 5th grade). They are expected to be self motivated and be able to work independently as well as in small groups with success. The following Learning Outcomes are expected to be met by approximately the student’s 11th year.

Language Arts
Reading: Children are grouped developmentally for multiage reading class. Reading comprehension, critical thinking, and fluency are central to the curriculum. Students use the A-Z series and other selected novels for discussions about main idea, vocabulary, sequencing, predicting and inferring. Children participate in creative and research projects, poetry reading, and presentations as well as write short answers and essays that require critical thinking about reading content. There is also a significant focus on reading to learn. Independent reading is encouraged both in school and at home.

Composition: Teachers guide children through weekly lessons that build skills in idea development, writing mechanics, and sentence structure. Emphasis is placed on applying rules of grammar and punctuation to write meaningful sentences which clearly and creatively express thoughts. Children learn various styles of writing such as expository, persuasive, creative, and factual essays building from shorter paragraphs to longer, multi-paragraph compositions. Children write book reports, business letters, and descriptive, expository, persuasive, and creative compositions. The curriculum culminates with group projects that allow the students to apply all of the skills they have learned throughout the years.

Spelling: High frequency words and phonics skills are emphasized. Phonics concepts become more complex throughout the year, and visual awareness of spelling patterns is developed.

Grammar: We begin to focus more on grammar and introduce or continue with the basic parts of speech, sentence structure, and writing mechanics. Children apply rules of grammar in written work with a focus on communicating accurately and concisely. Increasing the complexity and detail of their writing. By the end of their 11th year students will demonstrate a working knowledge of eight parts of speech in all capacities which gives them a foundation of language and a solid understanding of the structure of writing

Language Arts Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrates accuracy with priority words
  • Applies teacher lessons in everyday writing
  • Uses legible and properly formed handwriting
  • Plans and edits own work
  • Writes clearly with fluency and expression
  • Speaks clearly with eye contact and appropriate body language during presentations
  • Reads text aloud with fluency, expression, and with regard to punctuation
  • Summarizes the main idea of the text
  • Demonstrates comprehension through a variety of strategies
  • Gains new information from written materials


Using the Everyday Math series, we are able to customize the math work and challenge each age. Students are grouped based on ability. Students review patterning, place value, addition, and subtraction before moving into multiplication and division. Time, money, measurement, graphing, geometry, fractions and statistics are reviewed and extended. There is a focus on memorization of multiplication and division facts through twelve, and students are introduced to multi-digit multiplication and division with remainders. Problem solving is integrated into all aspects of the curriculum. Then, they move into multiplication and division of greater numbers. Students also further explore the concepts of geometry and fractions. Problem solving skills and practical applications are emphasized throughout the year. They learn operations with integers, practice more complex work with fractions and decimals, use percent’s in equations and develop an understanding of ratios and proportions. They are introduced to probability and basic statistics, formulas with variables, and inequalities. These fundamental math skills prepare them for Pre-Algebra.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understands topic concepts
  • Demonstrates accuracy and fluency in math facts
  • Uses mathematical language and understand terms
  • Shows sustained effort in solving problems
  • Demonstrates understanding of place value and ways of representing numbers 100,000 in various contexts
  • Demonstrates an understanding of properties of shapes in space
  • Extends understanding of measurement and its direct applications


Students continue to explore science through the use of the five senses. The Scientific method is used. Instruction is intended to give children hands-on experiences with real materials and farm related projects which help in cultivating an inquiring mind. Field trips, nature walks, hands on experiments and baking activities allow a child’s natural curiosity to develop. Children continue to deepen their understanding about the water cycle, cells, elements, habitats, systems, magnets, matter, forces, energy, rocks, climate, and pushes and pulls. Our science program encourages children to ask and answer questions, build factual knowledge, and theorize for further examination. Students are exposed to the three areas of science they will explore more deeply in later grades: Life Science, Earth Science, and Physical Science. This is accomplished through reading, discussion, and weekly scientific investigations. In addition, students incorporate technology into research, data organization and analysis. They take part in hands-on classroom activities and field trips that support their science studies. There is an emphasis on the environmental component which links class work and student projects with our school’s sustainability efforts. Elements of this work include water quality testing, rain garden maintenance, and campus-wide green initiatives.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Use effective techniques for observing and testing basic scientific concepts
  • Record observations and knowledge with accuracy
  • Demonstrate an understanding of characteristics and properties of water
  • Demonstrate a basic understanding of scientific concepts
  • Use observational skills to recognize seasonal changes, weather fluctuations, and different biomes
  • Students will learn about life cycles of plants, farming and animals through hands on experiences and nature walks throughout campus
  • They will research, care for and report on animals and their habitats

Social and Emotional Development

As the oldest group of students at our school, the Los Toros are role models for many other students. Throughout the year, many conversations take place about modeling manners, appropriate school behaviors, and controlling our voices and bodies. It is important for this group to own their learning. Responsibility for personal materials and homework are expected. These students work to refine the cooperative learning experience as they develop a more individualized understanding of the give and take of peer relations. They are expected to take their role as leaders seriously and consider how their words and actions affect everyone, but especially the younger students.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Appropriately displays, models, and demonstrates SJDSDS Character Virtues
  • Respects rights and property of others
  • Takes responsibility for actions and learning
  • Shows initiative and self-direction; has an awareness of self
  • Organizes materials and belongings
  • Manages time well
  • Completes and turns in homework
  • Works well in a variety of group configurations
  • Follows multi-step written and oral directions

Social Studies

Students explore maps and learn how to use them as well as gain an awareness of the seven continents through music, movement, food, art, and hands-on activities. Geography begins with basic map skills including learning how to read a map, use a key or legend, understand directional words, and apply a compass rose. Children then move to geographical vocabulary to learn about neighborhoods, cities, countries, capitals, continents, and oceans.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate responsibilities of classroom citizenship
  • Begin to organize and present research information
  • Display knowledge of basic map skills
  • Understand citizens’ rights and responsibilities with an emphasis on specific character virtues. Students will
  • Compare contemporary life and communities in Nicaragua towns and communities of the past
  • Research and report on specific historical figures including scientists, politicians, inventors, artists, educators, athletes, etc.

History and Geography

Using Nicaraguan and International text, children experience world history through the lives of men and women who have helped shape our world through their acts of courage, leadership, generosity, creativity, and strength. Stories of presidents, explorers, writers, artists, and inventors inspire students to learn more about the important individuals and events of our world. In Geography children study the Earth and how people live and work focusing on five main concepts: location, place, human/environment interaction, movement, and regions. History focuses on Central America with its primary emphasis on Nicaraguan history. Students learn about Native tribes, early European settlements, the founding of Nicaragua, the battles for control and the system of government. Geography is integrated with History and covers characteristics and natural features of Central American landscapes. This course focuses primarily on the geography Nicaragua and its main regions. Through the study of geography, students become familiar with the regions of Latin America, Africa, the Europe, and Asia. Students learn advanced map skills and understand how the five themes of geography are linked to each component of present day culture and daily-life. They learn to identify the similarities and differences between the people in these areas of the world.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Ability to read a variety of maps, identifies many countries on world map
  • Knowledge of Nicaragua, its major landmarks and states
  • Able to perform certain Nicaraguan folk dance