What Do 5th Graders Learn in American History?

As a 5th grader in America, students are introduced to American history in a more detailed and complex manner than ever before. In this grade, they dive deeper into the rich past of the United States and gain a better understanding of the country’s origins and evolution. Here’s what 5th graders learn in American history:

The Colonial Era

Students start with learning about the colonial era, which took place from the early 1600s to the mid-1700s. They learn about the first colonies established by European powers, including Jamestown, Plymouth, and Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The First Colonies

Students learn about how these colonies came to be established and their reasons for being created. They also study the interactions between colonists and Native Americans.

The Founding Fathers

The founders of America are an essential part of American history that 5th graders learn about. Students will study figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams. They’ll learn about their contributions to American history and how they shaped it.

The Revolutionary War

The Revolutionary War is another significant event that students will learn about in-depth during their 5th-grade year. They’ll be taught about its causes, key battles such as Lexington and Concord, Saratoga, Yorktown, and significant individuals like Paul Revere.

Declaration of Independence

Students also study the Declaration of Independence – its contents, why it was written, who wrote it- Thomas Jefferson -and how it has influenced America’s history since its creation.

The Constitution

In addition to studying the Declaration of Independence, 5th graders will also be taught about the Constitution; including how it was formed after much debate among delegates from the thirteen states at the Constitutional Convention.

Westward Expansion

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Americans began moving westward, which eventually led to the formation of new states.

The Louisiana Purchase

One of the most significant events of this era was the Louisiana Purchase. Students will learn about how President Thomas Jefferson bought this massive piece of land from France in 1803.

The Oregon Trail

Additionally, students will study the Oregon Trail, which was a path that many pioneers took as they moved westward to settle in new territories.

The Civil War

Finally, 5th graders will learn about one of America’s most critical periods – the Civil War. They will study its causes and effects and key figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee.

The Emancipation Proclamation

Students also learn about the Emancipation Proclamation – its contents, why it was written, who wrote it- Abraham Lincoln- and how it has influenced America’s history since its creation.

Reconstruction Era

Finally, students are taught about Reconstruction era which followed immediately after the Civil War and aimed to rebuild societal structures across Southern states after their devastation during the war.


In conclusion, 5th graders in America learn about an array of significant historical events that have helped shape America into what it is today. From colonial times to westward expansion to civil wars and beyond – there’s no shortage of exciting topics for students to explore in American history class. By providing them with a solid foundation in these subjects at a young age, we can help ensure that they develop a deeper understanding of America’s past and become more engaged citizens in the future.