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The Galaxies

4th & 5th Grade

Language Arts


The spelling program in 4th & 5th grades will continue to foster the understanding of spelling patterns. Students will learn to recognize the categories of regular, rule-based, and irregular spellings. Spelling strategies and major spelling patterns are taught through mini-lessons. An individualized list of words is introduced weekly and reinforced through writing activities.


4th & 5th grade students continue to develop and demonstrate command of grammar and usage in written and spoken form. Particular emphasis is given to:

  • Using verb tense to convey various conditions
  • Understanding when and where to use conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections
  • Using commas appropriately
  • Punctuating items in a series

Sentence diagramming is introduced to reinforce student understanding of sentence structure and parts of speech.

Textbook: Exercises in English

Workbooks – Loyola Press


In addition to content area vocabulary, students receive isolated vocabulary instruction comprised of classical roots study and analogies. In classical roots study, students acquire and use grade-appropriate language through the study of Greek and Latin roots words and affixes, which account for approximately 60% of the English language. In the study of analogies, students use reasoning skills to determine the meaning of new words based on words they already know and the relationship expressed in the analogy.

Textbooks: Vocabulary from Classical Roots & Ridgewood Analogies

Reading Comprehension

Students develop and demonstrate comprehension skills for targeted nonfiction readings by applying before, during, and after-reading strategies. With guided practice, students gain independence accessing information from nonfiction texts and unlocking the meanings of new and unfamiliar content area vocabulary.

Textbook: Read for Real (Nonfiction Strategies for Reading Results) – Zaner-Bloser

Novel Study

Through close reading of grade-appropriate, content-linked literature, students learn to:

  • Identify prevalent themes in a story
  • Describe, in-depth, the plot, characters, settings, and events in a story drawing on specific elements of the text
  • Compare and contrast characters, settings, and events in a story
  • Build appreciation for various authors, genres, and topics
  • Reinforce content area learning
  • Develop and reinforce writing skills

Previous Novel Study titles include:

  • Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • The Mostly True Adventure of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
  • The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes


Students continue to build on their writing skills as they are provided guided instruction and exemplars that enable them to produce clear and cohesive writing in a variety of formats. With consideration of purpose and audience, students produce:

Opinion pieces on topics or texts supporting a point of view with specific reasons

Informative/explanatory texts that examine topics and convey ideas and information

Narratives, both real and imagined, using effective techniques, descriptive details, and clear event sequences

Examples include:

  • “How-to” Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Personal Narrative
  • Character Analysis
  • Response to Literature
  • Descriptive Essay
  • Research Report
  • Response to Prompt
  • Fictional Narrative


Neat and uniform handwriting (cursive) is reinforced using the Zaner- Bloser workbooks.


Through an enriching and rigorous math curriculum, students will develop a strong conceptual understanding of various topics in mathematics. Students in grades 2-5, will attain mastery in all five major content areas: number sense & operations, algebra, geometry, data analysis & probability, and measurement. At the core of each unit are key concepts and open-ended problems that align with the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. The essence of all math learning is problem solving. At Sundance, students are taught the skills needed in order to be effective problem solvers. Manipulatives are used throughout each unit of study to help students gain a deeper understanding of concepts, and discussions of mathematical ideas are practiced daily. Students are challenged every day to become more confident learners and more willing risk-takers.

4th Grade


  • Place value to thousands
  • Place value to millions
  • Comparing & ordering whole numbers
  • Rounding whole numbers
  • Using money to understand whole numbers
  • Counting money & making change
  • Problem solving: Making an organized list

Adding and Subtracting Whole Numbers

  • Using mental math to add and subtract
  • Estimating sums and differences of whole numbers
  • Problem solving: Missing and extra information
  • Adding whole numbers
  • Subtracting whole numbers
  • Subtracting across zeros
  • Problem solving: Draw a picture and write an equation

Multiplication Meanings & Facts

  • Meanings of multiplication
  • Patterns for facts
  • Multiplication properties
  • 3 and 4 as factors
  • 5, 6, 7, and 8 as factors
  • 10, 11, and 12 as factors
  • Problem solving: Draw a picture and write an equation

Division Meanings & Facts

  • Meanings for division
  • Relating multiplication and division
  • Special quotients
  • Using multiplication facts to find division facts
  • Problem solving

Multiplying by 1-Digit Numbers

  • Multiplying by multiples of 10 and 100
  • Using mental math to multiply
  • Using rounding to estimate
  • Problem solving: Reasonableness
  • Using an expanded algorithm – Algebra connection
  • Multiplying 2-digit by 1-digit numbers
  • Multiplying 3-digit by 1-digit numbers
  • Problem solving

Patterns & Expressions

  • Variables and expressions
  • Addition and subtraction expressions
  • Multiplication and division expressions
  • Problem Solving: Using objects and reasoning

Multiplying by 2-Digit Numbers

  • Using mental math to multiply 2-digit numbers
  • Estimating products
  • Arrays and expanded algorithm
  • Multiplying 2-digit numbers by multiples of 10
  • Multiplying 2-digit by 2-digit numbers
  • Problem solving: Two question problems

Dividing by 1-Digit Divisors

  • Using mental math to divide
  • Estimating quotients
  • Dividing with remainders
  • Connecting models and symbols
  • Dividing 2-digit by 1-digit numbers
  • Dividing 3-digit by 1-digit numbers
  • Deciding where to start dividing
  • Exploring factors
  • Prime and composite numbers
  • Problem solving: Multiple step problems


  • Identifying points, lines, and planes
  • Identifying line segments, rays, and angles
  • Measuring angles
  • Polygons
  • Triangles
  • Quadrilaterals
  • Problem solving: Make and test generalizations

Understanding Fractions

  • Regions and sets
  • Fractions and division
  • Estimating fractional amounts
  • Equivalent fractions
  • Fractions in simplest form
  • Improper fractions and mixed numbers
  • Comparing fractions
  • Ordering fractions
  • Problem solving: Writing to explain

Adding & Subtracting Fractions

  • Adding and subtracting fractions with like denominators
  • Adding fractions with unlike denominators
  • Subtracting fractions with unlike denominators
  • Problem solving: Draw a picture and write an equation

Understanding Decimals

  • Decimal Place Value
  • Comparing and ordering decimals
  • Fractions and decimals
  • Fractions and decimals on a number line
  • Mixed numbers and decimals on a number line
  • Problem Solving

Operations with Decimals

  • Rounding decimals
  • Estimating sums and differences of decimals
  • Modeling addition and subtraction of decimals
  • Adding and subtracting decimals
  • Multiplying a whole number by a decimal
  • Dividing a decimal by a whole number
  • Problem Solving: Try, check, and revise

Area & Perimeter

  • Understanding area
  • Area of squares and rectangles
  • Area of irregular shapes
  • Area of parallelograms
  • Area of triangles
  • Perimeter
  • Same perimeter, different areas
  • Same area, different perimeters
  • Problem Solving: Solve a simpler problem and make a table


  • Views of solids: Nets
  • Views of solids: Perspective
  • Volume
  • Problem Solving: Look for a pattern

Measurement, Time, and Temperature

  • Using customary units of length
  • Customary units of capacity
  • Units of weight
  • Changing customary units
  • Using metric units of length
  • Units of capacity
  • Metric units of capacity
  • Units of mass
  • Changing metric units

Data & Graphs

  • Data from surveys
  • Interpreting graphs
  • Line plots
  • Ordered pairs
  • Line graphs
  • Mean, mode, median, and range
  • Stem-and-leaf plots
  • Reading circle graphs
  • Problem Solving: Make a graph


  • Equal or not equal
  • Solving addition and subtraction equations
  • Solving multiplication and division equations
  • Understanding inequalities
  • Problem Solving: Work backwards

Transformations, Congruence, & Symmetry

  • Translations
  • Reflections
  • Rotations
  • Congruent figures
  • Line symmetry
  • Rotational symmetry
  • Problem Solving


  • Finding combinations
  • Outcomes and tree diagrams
  • Writing probability as a fraction
  • Problem Solving: Use reasoning

5th Grade

Place Value

  • Place value
  • Tenths and hundredths
  • Thousandths
  • Decimal place value
  • Comparing and ordering decimals
  • Problem Solving: Look for a pattern

Adding and Subtracting Decimals

  • Mental math
  • Rounding whole numbers and decimals
  • Estimating sums and differences
  • Modeling addition & subtraction of decimals
  • Problem Solving: Draw a picture and write an equation
  • Adding decimals
  • Subtracting decimals
  • Problem Solving: Multi-step problems

Multiplying Whole Numbers

  • Multiplication properties
  • Using mental math to multiply
  • Estimating products
  • Exponents
  • Distributive property
  • Multiplying 1-digit numbers
  • Multiplying 2-digit by 2-digit numbers
  • Multiplying greater numbers
  • Problem Solving: Draw a picture and write an equation

Dividing by 1-Digit Divisors

  • Dividing multiples of 10 and 100
  • Estimating quotients
  • Problem Solving: Reasonableness
  • Connecting models and symbols
  • Dividing by 1-digit divisors
  • Zeros in the quotient
  • Problem Solving: Draw a picture and write an equation

Dividing by 2-Digit Divisors

  • Using patterns to divide
  • Estimating quotients with 2-digit divisors
  • Connecting models and symbols
  • Dividing by multiples of 10
  • 1-digit quotients
  • 2-digit quotients
  • Estimating and dividing with greater numbers
  • Problem Solving: Missing or extra information

Multiplying Decimals

  • Multiplying decimals by 10, 100, or 1,000
  • Estimating the product of a decimal and a whole number
  • Number sense: Decimal multiplication
  • Models for multiplying decimals
  • Multiplying a decimal by a whole number
  • Multiplying two decimals
  • Problem Solving: Multiple-step problems

Dividing Decimals

  • Dividing decimals by 10, 100, or 1,000
  • Estimating decimal quotients
  • Number sense: Decimal division
  • Dividing by a whole number
  • Dividing a whole number by a decimal
  • Dividing a decimal by a decimal
  • Problem Solving: Multiple-step problems

Numerical Expressions, Patterns, and Relationships

  • Using variables to write expressions
  • Order of operations
  • Simplifying expressions
  • Evaluating expressions
  • Additions and subtracting expressions
  • Multiplication and division expressions
  • Patterns: Extending tables
  • Variables and expression
  • Problem Solving: Act it out and use reasoning

Adding and Subtracting Fractions

  • Equivalent fractions
  • Fractions in simplest form
  • Problem Solving: Writing to explain
  • Estimating sums and differences of fractions
  • Common multiples and least common multiple
  • Finding common denominators
  • Adding fractions with unlike denominators
  • Subtracting fractions with unlike denominators
  • More adding and subtracting fractions
  • Problem Solving: Draw a picture and write an equation

Adding and Subtracting Mixed Numbers

  • Improper fractions and mixed numbers
  • Estimating sums and differences of mixed numbers
  • Modeling addition and subtraction of mixed numbers
  • Adding mixed numbers
  • Subtracting mixed numbers
  • More adding and subtracting mixed numbers
  • Problem Solving: Draw a picture and write an equation

Multiplying and Dividing Fractions and Mixed Numbers

  • Fractions and division
  • Multiplying fractions and whole numbers
  • Estimating products
  • Multiplying two fractions
  • Area of a rectangle
  • Multiplying mixed numbers
  • Multiplication as scaling
  • Problem Solving: Multiple-step problems
  • Dividing whole numbers by unit fractions
  • Dividing unit fractions by non-zero whole numbers

Volume of Solids

  • Solids
  • Views of solids
  • Problem Solving: Use objects and solve a simpler problem
  • Models and volume
  • Volume
  • Combining volumes
  • Problem Solving: Use objects and reasoning


  • Line Plots
  • Data from surveys
  • Making line plots
  • Measurement data
  • Problem Solving: Writing to explain

Classifying Plane Figures

  • Polygons
  • Triangles
  • Properties of Quadrilaterals
  • Special Quadrilaterals
  • Classifying Quadrilaterals
  • Problem Solving: Make and test generalizations

Coordinate Geometry

  • Ordered pairs
  • Distances on a coordinate plane
  • Problem Solving: Solve a simpler problem
  • Patterns and graphing
  • More patterns and graphing
  • Problem Solving: Working backward


The Sundance Upper School science curriculum is based on the New Jersey Core curriculum standards for elementary grades. We use the Scott Foresman Science textbooks to help us with the scope and sequence.

Learning experiences in science include hands-on investigations using the FOSS science system, knowledge gain through observation, and regular discussions of concepts in class. Questions are encouraged, as is research into topics. Occasionally, deeper insight into specific topics is enabled through projects and presentations. The children also learn and read about famous scientists and inventors.

Unifying all these learning experiences is the fundamental development of a scientific temperament. The children become well versed in the scientific method through exposure to a variety of scientific tools during their investigations.

Given our school’s unique multi-grade classroom composition, units covered in a given year are dependent on the yearly theme and what the children were exposed to in the previous year.

Social Studies

The Galaxies program is guided by K-4 and 5-8 Common Core standards.

Topics of study include:

  • Civics, Government, and Human Rights
  • Geography, People, and the Environment
  • Economics, Innovation, and Technology
  • History, Culture, and Perspective

The focus of instruction is on developing an understanding of core democratic values, the rights and responsibilities of American citizens, and how key people and events contributed to the development of the American heritage. Exploration of cultural universals enables students to realize how the availability of resources, the changing environment, and innovation impact everyday life. Building on this foundational content, students will begin a more in-depth study of U.S. History, World History, and Global Studies that will continue through grade 8.


The Visual Arts program at Sundance is designed to provide a comprehensive arts experience that enriches the overall curriculum. Students are exposed to a wide variety of two-dimensional, three-dimensional and digital media projects. Students are also introduced to a multitude of artists from varying time periods and cultures with the “Artist of the Month” series. Many of the artists and art projects are intertwined with Sundance’s yearly themes in order to augment the thematic learning experience. Rounding out the arts program in the upper grades is a focus on aesthetic examination that encourages students to understand, discuss and analyze a variety of art forms. Using the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards as a guideline, the Visual Arts program helps students to explore their creativity and develop their abilities to understand, produce and appreciate art.

The Creative Process

  • Students will identify the elements (line, value, shape, form, space,
    color and texture) and principles of design (unity, emphasis, balance, propor- tion, contrast, movement, rhythm, variety, harmony) that are evident in eve- ryday life.
  • Students will compare and contrast works of art in various mediums that use the same art elements and principles of design.

History of the Arts and Culture

  • Students will be introduced to a new artist each month representing a variety of time periods, cultures and styles.
  • Students will recognize works of dance, music, theatre, and visual art as a re- flection of societal values and beliefs.
  • Students will relate common artistic elements that define distinctive genres of art.
  • Students will determine the impact of significant contributions of individual artists from diverse cultures throughout history.

Art Creation

  • Students will work individually and collaboratively to create two- and three- dimensional works of art that make cohesive visual statements and that em- ploy the elements of art and principles of design.
  • Students will identify common and distinctive characteristics of artworks from diverse cultural and historical eras of visual art using age-appropriate stylistic terminology experiment with various compositional approaches in- fluenced by these styles.
  • Students will differentiate drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, printmak- ing, textiles, and computer imaging by the physical properties of the resulting artworks, and experiment with various art media to create original works of art.
  • Students will collaborate in the creation of works of art using multiple art media and present the completed works in exhibition areas.


  • Students will make informed aesthetic responses to artworks based on struc- tural arrangement and personal, cultural, and historical points of view.
  • Students will demonstrate how art communicates ideas about personal and social values and is inspired by an individual’s imagination and frame of ref- erence.
  • Students will assess the application of the elements of art and principles of

Theatre Workshop

The Primary and Upper School Theatre Workshop at Sundance provides our students with an opportunity to develop skills necessary for success in the 21st century. We appreciate the parental support and enthusiasm for the Theatre Workshop model and show time experience that is a vital component of a Sundance education.

Our theatre program offers instruction that integrates several aspects of the art form: creative, drama, improvisation, acting, script writing, readers theatre, theatre history, directing, designing, researching, comparing art forms, analyzing and critiquing and understanding contexts. Classes are formatted to encourage teamwork, risk taking and full participation while providing fun and challenging opportunities for students to explore basic acting skills and the technical elements of theatre. Performance opportunities include a literature based stage production in the fall, a theme-based spring production (students help script, plan, produce and perform) and two variety shows where acts themselves are student generated. Students also function as stage crew and technical support.

Click here for more information about The Sundance Theatre Program

Physical Education

The Physical Education program is designed for the purpose of enhancing psychomotor, cognitive, and physical development through physical body movement. Physical Education offers opportunities to develop independence, goal -setting, leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship.

Skill Development

  • Developing the fundamental concepts related to effective execution of actions provides the foundation for games, sports, dance and recreational activities.
  • Developing body control when moving in relation to others, objects and boundaries in personal and general space.
  • Understand movement error in response to feedback and explain how the change improves performance.


  • Students will participate in the Presidential Fitness Challenge Program
  • Calisthenics
  • Soccer
  • Flag Football
  • Floor Hockey
  • Basketball
  • Lacrosse
  • Cooperative Games



  • To develop spontaneous responses to different situations in complete Spanish sentences
  • To improve the communication skill
  • To be actively involved and willing to participate in class
  • To speak, interact and sing only in Spanish
  • To expand knowledge of vocabulary and new phrases
  • To get proficient in writing and reading skills
  • To learn more about cultures and traditions in Spanish speaking countries

Upper School Curriculum

Grade 5 & 6 Curriculum


This course is designed for Constellations, Milky Ways and Galaxies students with no Chinese background. It focuses both on developing communicative competence in Chinese and also on motivating the students. The objectives enable students to form a solid foundation of learning Chinese for their further study in a fun way. The introduction to Pinyin helps students to pronounce and understand Chinese correctly. The lessons will teach students greetings, numbers, family members, animals, colors, food and drinks, school life etc. in Chinese words and simple characters. Interactive sentence patterns and Chinese cultures will be integrated in the language learning. Students are expected to understand the vocabulary in order to communicate with each other through simple dialogues. Many colorful pictures and multimedia tools are used in classes. Activities such as singing songs, telling stories, and playing games are adapted. By the end of school year students are expected to know: 20 Chinese characters and 30-50 new words, to speak simple sentences, ask questions, and recite or sing several Chinese poems and songs.