house fly

Unit: Word Problems for fifth-graders

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.NF.A.2 Compare two fractions with different numerators and different denominators, e.g., by creating common denominators or numerators, or by comparing to a benchmark fraction such as 1/2

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.A.1 Recognize that in a multi-digit number, a digit in one place represents 10 times as much as it represents in the place to its right and 1/10 of what it represents in the place to its left.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.A.3.A Read and write decimals to thousandths

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.A.4 Use place value understanding to round decimals to any place.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NF.A.2 Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions referring to the same whole, including cases of unlike denominators, e.g., by using visual fraction models or equations to represent the problem. 

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.B.5 Fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.NBT.B.7 Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals to hundredths

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.A.1 Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.


Approximately 2.5 hours

Unit Summary

This cross-curricular unit includes a variety of strategies and examples for solving word problems at a fifth-grade level, including division of three-digit numbers, fractions and decimals.

Buffalo Hunts and Division

This lesson begins with a video on long division (optional) or a presentation on uses of division from the playground to the buffalo hunt. Students then watch a short video working long division problems. Finish with practicing long division in Making Camp Dakota. Short videos on Dakota buffalo hunt traditions and related math lessons are also linked.

Watch out for blood-sucking fishes!

This 40-minute lesson introduces new science vocabulary words, teaches about indigenous and invasive species and includes a couple of math problems showing how quickly invasive species multiply. It concludes with students playing the Making Camp Dakota: Past and Present game. Math word problems require finding half of 500 and 10 x 500.

Using Visual Models To Compare Fractions

Students play 2-3 levels of a game that teaches and assesses adding and comparing fractions with different numerators and denominators, with the context of a story from Ojibwe history. They create their own problems using visual models to compare fractions. Students discuss classmates’ problems. The lesson culminates with a video on visualization as a problem-solving strategy. (35-45 minutes)

Decimals, Epidemics & Fly Vomit – It’s science!

Learn decimals while weighing a flies and the food they eat. The lesson begins with a game on decimals and the Aztec smallpox epidemic, then moves to another disease spreader – flies. Students learn the role flies play in our ecosystem, how they eat and reproduce. (75 minutes)


For students who are struggling with word problems, assign these videos directly teaching strategies or watch together in class.

Fishing and Statistics


Recognize that a measure of center for a numerical data set summarizes all of its values with a single number, while a measure of variation describes how its values vary with a single number.
Summarize numerical data sets in relation to their context.


Students will need a Chromebook, Windows or Mac computer to play the game. Stories can be read on a computer or tablet or printed out.

Time Required

75 -105 minutes.


This lesson begins with a game teaching statistics, with a level assessing weights of salmon. Next, students read stories about salmon from the Pacific Northwest tribal communities. The lesson ends with a game outdoors or in the gym where students ‘catch’ salmon and learn the impact of overfishing. Optional activity includes creative writing or artwork to accompany the salmon stories.


Play a Game (25 minutes)

Play Disaster Deduction Detectives through Level 4 where players compute mean weights of fish caught with and without an outlier. Earlier levels discuss median and statistical questions.

Fish catching game in Disaster Deduction Detectives

Read Salmon Stories (35 minutes)

This 35-page booklet of salmon stories comes from a collaborative effort of the tribal communities of the Pacific Northwest, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and Seattle Aquarium. In addition to four stories about salmon, traditional games featuring salmon are described. You can print the booklet or copy the link and assign it in your Google classroom or other online system.

Depending on your available class time and their reading level, you may wish to just assign one or two stories or the whole booklet.

NOTE: You can find the entire 72-page Teachers Guide, One with the Watershed, including the stories, here. It has a wealth of information, games and activities. We highly recommend reading it.

Physical Education and Math – Play the Salmon Catcher Game (15 minutes)

This game is explained on page 30 of the Teacher’s Guide and on page 24 of the Salmon Stories booklet. A group of 4 or 5 students must catch a classmate (a salmon) by forming a net around it by holding hands. Play with lots of salmon and one ‘net’ and then with lots of ‘nets’ and few salmon. After the game, discuss how having too many fishers for the number of fish makes it difficult for each group to get enough salmon for a feast.


Students responses to the questions in the Disaster Deduction Detectives game on statistical questions, creating and interpreting dot plots, median and mean with and without an outlier are all scored automatically and can be found in the teacher reports.

Differentiated Instruction

Optional: Creative Writing OR Art and Social Studies (30 minutes)

The Salmon Stories booklet has minimal illustrations. Allow students 30 minutes to create an illustration for one of the stories. For students who would prefer to write a story instead, allow them to select one of the topics suggested in the booklet, for example, on page 23 of the student booklet (page 29 in the Teacher’s Guide) students are asked to imagine a discussion between a salmon and the forest.

Discover Dairy: Selective Breeding

📖 Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.7 Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

📲 Technology Required

Computer with projector, for in-class use. Computer or tablet with Internet access for home use.

⏰ Time

60-70 minutes

📃 Summary

This cross-curricular lesson is one of two “lessons we love” from Discover Dairy. Students watch a short video, read a passage on selective breeding in dairy cows, have a discussion and complete a lab exercise in selective breeding.


NOTE: While we create most lessons on the Growing Math site ourselves, we do include links to other lessons that are exemplary in their cross-curricular, standards-based design. This is one of two lessons we love from Discover Dairy. The entire 14-page lesson can be downloaded here, including reading passages, lab assignments and answer keys.

You can also go to the Discover Dairy site, which requires a free registration and login to download individual parts of the lesson and see the other lessons they have available.

Start with a video

Watch a four-minute video on dairy farms to kick the lesson off.

Read a passage on selective breeding in dairy cows

You’ll find this on page 13 of the handout linked above or download both reading assignments here (it’s only two pages) or copy the link to assign in your Google classroom to read on line.

Class Discussion on Selective Breeding

See page 2 of the full lesson linked above for suggested discussion questions. Note that the first question asks about the 7 types of dairy cows- the 7 types of cows are picture on the complete lesson plan on page 7.

Lab Exercise #1 : Selective Breeding

Pass out the lab activity #1 sheets, in pages 9 and 10 of the complete lesson plan. You can link directly to those here, if you want to assign in Google classroom or other management system. Note that link includes both labs 1 and 2.

Once students have the materials, explain the lab activity. You may want to use the explanation given on pages 2-3 of the lesson plan.

Answer keys for both lab exercises can be found here.

Not a dairy cow
Bovine, but not a dairy cow

Read a passage on the life cycle of a dairy cow

You’ll find this on pages 14 of the handout linked above or download both reading assignments here (it’s only two pages) or copy the link to assign in your Google classroom to read on line.

Answer keys for both lab exercises can be found here.


Two types of assessment occur in this lesson. During the class discussion, teachers can get an assessment of the understanding of the concepts of the class as a whole and the lab assignment can be used for individual assessment.

Related Lesson

Discover Dairy: Life Cycle of the Dairy Cow

The Navajo-Churro: America’s First Domestic Sheep


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

7th-8th Diné History Standards – I will understand historical/factual events, people and symbols that influence my family. Concept 1.PO2.  I will identify an event relating to important people in Diné history.


90 minutes including time for research


Vocabulary and historical events key to Navajo sheep farming are provided in a slide presentation. Students learn more about Navajo agriculture and history through a video, their own research, and a game combining math and history. Academic vocabulary is at the 7th grade level.


Navajo-Churros: America’s First Domestic Sheep

Introduce sheep farming in Navajo and southwest history with this presentation, for an editable Google slides version, go here. The same presentation as a PowerPoint is found here. Students will learn vocabulary words related to general livestock farming and specifically to sheep.

VIDEO: Irene’s Churro Lambs

YouTube video: Irene’s Churro Lambs

Research and Writing Assignments

This assignment has two parts. In the first part, students research one of these events in history to learn more about it. They locate a primary source and a secondary source with citations, and then write an objective summary. In Part B, students select two research questions of interest, from a list provided, and conduct research to find the answers. A Google doc of the assignment can be found here.

Answer key for Part B can be found here.

Differentiated Instruction: Accommodations for learners with special needs

For the assignment above, for learners with special needs, you may wish to assign only one of the two parts. Generally, we would assign Part B, finding the answers to research questions. This is also a modification for students who are English language learners.

GAME: Making Camp Navajo LIFE Module 

Students can play the three Making Camp Navajo modules for 20 minutes. The following instructions can be copied into Google classroom, pasted into a Zoom chat or given in class.

Go to Making Camp Navajo

Play through until you reach the LIFE tab and play all of the activities you find there.

These are the three activities you will play

  • LOL: Lots on Lambs
  • The Many Uses of Sheep
  • Rug Design 


This lesson includes three forms of assessment

  1. Objective Summary of Research (written assignment)
  2. Research to answer questions on an event with primary/secondary sources
  3. Making Camp Navajo Gameplay

Making Camp Navajo – Student Activities completed can be seen in the Making Camp Navajo teacher reports

  1. Assessment in lamb care/lambing season. (True or False)
  2. Assessment in the Many Uses of Sheep for Navajo history. (Matching game)
  3. Students can screenshot a picture of their rug design, like below.