Welcome to Grades 3–5 AT BELMONT DAY SCHOOL

“Grades 3–5 are when students begin applying pivotal academic skills and discover the agency of their own voice in learning. BDS teachers support that through culminating projects that synthesize many skills.”

—Brendan Largay, Head of School

"Our teachers are passionate about providing meaningful and active experiences in the classrooms. Students learn through lively discussions, vigorous exploration of content, collaborative problem solving, and the design and presentation of dynamic curriculum. Our classrooms are places of deep learning."

—Deborah Brissenden, Assistant Head of School and Director of Curriculum and Instruction


“We empower students by asking them to reflect on how they learn.” —Larissa Rochford ’93, third grade teacher

“With every unit, we explore ways students can share their learning. Third graders love teaching others what they have just discovered about the world around them.” —Leigh Twarog, third grade teacher

Reading Starts the Adventure

Fall starts with a multi-disciplinary exploration of the third grade summer reading book. Students work with teachers to design their own extension projects.


—Ms. Rochford ’93

create an oil-spill simulation lab

Students expand their understanding of the scientific process by exploring the human impacts on ecosystems with an emphasis on the effects of oil spills. They make predictions, design and construct oil spill clean up tools, collect data, form conclusions, and share their findings.

Learn about perimeter and area by constructing a model of an animal rescue center • Research the animals affected by the oil spill • Write letters of gratitude to animal rescue workers

What third graders WOULD SAY TO scientists and ANIMAL RESCUE WORKERS:

  • “Thanks for cleaning the Earth's animals and keeping them from going extinct.”
  • “Please try and save this animal and I will help you if you need it.”
  • “I think you are doing the right thing even though it is really hard.”

More third Grade Highlights

Nature journals • Studying ecosystems • Research, write, and create artwork about a state of their choosing and present their learning at a State Fair • Starring in the class play — this is the first year students don’t share the stage with another grade • Increasing French class to twice a week • Studying a notable woman and designing a project to teach their classmates about her

“We individualize math instruction by working with each student to design the week’s homework. Some elements are required, and together we decide if the student should add more."

—Ms. Twarog


“Fourth graders are unique because they have a lot of skills and their imaginations are still very vivid. We tap into that with a curriculum that inspires them.” —Mary Norman, fourth grade teacher

“We focus a lot on storytelling traditions throughout time. Students practice their own storytelling techniques through writing, performing, and public speaking.” —Lana Holman, fourth grade teacher

Travel Back in Time to Ancient Egypt

Design a monumental pyramid with recycled materials • Use mathematical calculations to translate your pyramid to scale • Mummify Cornish hens • Choose an aspect of Egyptian culture to research in-depth • Follow the writing process to write a research paper about their topic • Recreate tomb paintings • Map the ancient world using Google Maps • Visit the MFA • Present at a classroom symposium

Become a Greek Scholar

Write and design a Greek magazine • Make clay objects and study ancient architecture • Chart stars moving across the night sky • Retell the story of a constellation • Design a visual project to honor famous figures • Read a junior version of the Iliad and other Greek myths • Become storytellers of traditional Greek tales and stories of unlikely heroes at a storytelling festival

“Teachers adeptly respond to the changing and complex socio-emotional needs of upper elementary age children. Teachers help children realize their own agency and the learner grows by incorporating the nuances of our core values of responsibility, respect, and caring.”

—Minna Ham, lower school head

More fourth Grade Highlights

Examine plant structures • Get BDS email and learn internet etiquette • Survey a shoreline ecosystem with Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center • Compare fairytale retellings • Write a hero’s tale • Distinguish fact from theory • Grow plants to raise money for a cause that fourth graders choose • Each student has an Chromebook in the classroom


“Fifth graders are remarkable because they are on the cusp between childhood and adolescence, between concrete and abstract thought, between the individual and the community.” —Julia Juster, fifth grade teacher

“Our curriculum provides freedom and choice for fifth graders to explore topics that interest them. It’s a privilege to both challenge and support students as they become increasingly independent thinkers and learners.” —Emma Nairn, fifth grade teacher

make math visible

Explore connections between fractions and decimals • Use visual algebra to decode complex real world situations • Think flexibly while problem-solving • Approach questions in many creative ways • Design an avatar for math battles with classmates

Bring immigration to Life

Explore the migration of people to and through the United States • Paint like Jacob Lawrence while studying the Great Migration • Challenge assumptions about American borders using Google Maps • Write poetry inspired by the discoveries at Angel Island • Learn to tell the same story from multiple perspectives • Research an influential immigrant • Hone your listening and debate skills while discussing stories and the news

Get to the Roots of World Languages

Our middle school faculty have designed a unique class for fifth graders, called Foundations for Language Learning. Students discover universal truths about how and why language evolves. They document the similarities and differences between English, Latin, Spanish, and French. Then they choose the language they will study throughout middle school with confidence and enthusiasm.

“We value most that the entire school knows our children so well. They genuinely care about their well being. BDS truly teaches to the whole child and takes the core values seriously. When we walk through the halls everyone is excited to see us and to connect.” —Angel Williams, parent

More fifth Grade Highlights

Visit the Museum of Science Hall of Human Life • Make a BrainPOP movie to demonstrate understanding of muscles • Learn the style markers of different genres • Practice deep revision in writing • Star in the fifth grade play

“students develop into leaders when they have access to role models, guidance, and opportunities. Throughout grades 3-5, they are given the resources to cultivate their own leadership skills. They take on increasing responsibilities in the community with pride. Fifth graders leave as Lower School leaders, ready to embark on the next stage of their journey.”

—Minna Ham, Lower School Head