5th Grade at Cambridge: Renaissance, Rebirth, and Reformation

When did people begin studying and writing about the events of time? 

When did they become curious about God’s story—even though they didn’t always call it by that name?

As they enter 5th grade, students read the books Herodotus and The Road to History and Traveling Man, The Journey of Ibn Battuta (1325-1354). Herodotus was a Greek, and the first person we know of who began to write down his observations of people, customs, and the places they lived. 

Ibn Battuta, who lived hundreds of years after Herodotus, was an explorer from Tangier, Morocco. He too wrote down what he learned about people, customs, and places.

Following their study of the Middle Ages in 4th grade, 5th graders move into the next time in history, from the early 1300s through the late 1600s. This time period is called by people who write about history, the Renaissance - meaning, “rebirth.”

The idea of “rebirth” might make us think that we are only looking at the past and things that are reviving, or being reborn. Rebirth of old things is certainly a big part of the Renaissance period.

However, this time was also a time of discovering new things which would lead to the future. It was a period of intense exploration and a time of intense observation. 

And these are two important characteristics of study in 5th grade: exploration and observation.

We study, report on, and even “become” great explorers like Amerigo Vespucci, Marco Polo, and Bartolomeu Dias. Our studies lead us to explore the ancient cultures to which the western explorers went: Ancient China, Ancient Africa, and Ancient Latin America. Students develop a better understanding of the arts, literature, religions, and cultures in existence prior to those of Western Europe. 

 5th grade students give presentations on important inventors and explorers.

5th grade students give presentations on important inventors and explorers.

We learn about simple machines and create them ourselves. We travel to art museums and perform nature and environmental studies in the area. Each unit of study includes student projects and presentations.  

We read Shakespeare and round out our year and study of the Renaissance with an Elizabethan Evening. We will promenade. We will process. We will perform a Shakespearean play. 

We prepare our hearts and minds for the next chapter in history - Colonization and the New World.

 Mrs. Powell and her 5th grade class before their dress rehearsal for  The Merchant of Venice.

Mrs. Powell and her 5th grade class before their dress rehearsal for The Merchant of Venice.

 5th grade students promenade into the Elizabethan Evening.

5th grade students promenade into the Elizabethan Evening.

 A scene from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" performed by the 5th grade.

A scene from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" performed by the 5th grade.

Lisa Bond