Mary Nicholson

5th Grade Teacher

Mary Nicholson

Mrs. Mary Nicholson received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Arts from California State University, Long Beach, and her California Teaching Credential from California State University, Dominguez Hills. At age 23 she began her career in education as a 5th grade teacher in the Hawthorne School District.  While working for HSD she also held the positions of Administrative Designee, Special Projects Teacher, and District Performing Arts Specialist. Mrs. Nicholson was the founder of the Washington School’s Performing Arts Group which performed at many LA area special events – including the Junior Achievement Awards. She was honored to receive the Bravo Award in the Hawthorne School District for excellence in incorporating the arts in education, as well as the Teacher of the Year Award.

Mrs. Nicholson and her husband, Scott, received God’s message about Christ Lutheran School after three unrelated people recommended it as a place for their son William’s education. He attended CLS from pre-school through 8th grade and credits his education here as the reason public high school “was a breeze”. In 2011 Mrs. Nicholson left public school to accept the position of Computer Teacher at Christ Lutheran. A year later she moved into the position of 5th grade teacher (with William in her class). She held this position for 10 years, before taking a year off.  For the past year she has worked for her husband, helping him with his Marriage and Family Therapy practice. This year she is going to try to have the best of both worlds by returning to the 5th grade classroom part-time and continuing to work for her husband in the afternoon.

In her free time, Mrs. Nicholson loves reading, acting, dancing, trying to play the flute and ukulele, listening to her son play drums, and spending time with her family. Her favorite Bible verse is: Proverbs 3:5 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”

Curriculum Overview of 5th Grade

Fifth Grade Curriculum Overview


Students use the Bible, Luther’s Small Catechism, and the textbook – One in Christ. The curriculum emphasis is on:

  • How to apply our faith to the world around us
  • Old Testament
  • Martin Luther and the Reformation
  • Major holidays of the Church


Fifth grades memory work focuses on excerpts from the texts used in Learning God’s Word. It includes:

  • Ten Commandments
  • Major sections of Luther’s Small Catechism
  • Select Bible verses


Students use the Sadlier-Oxford Vocabulary Workshop Book Level A. It is a Middle School Program continued on through the 8th grade. Fifth grade students are working with words on a 6th grade level. There is an on-line component.


Students use the Write Source Handbook and Skills Workbook. There is a Writing Center where students work on paragraph and essay writing skills and strategies.

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Daily Oral Language
  • Book Report(s)
  • Science Fair Report
  • State Report

The Macmillan/McGraw-Hill 5[th] Grade series, California Treasures, is utilized. It has an anthology as well as Leveled Skill-Based Practice Readers (Approaching, On Level and Advanced). Students work in small groups and at centers.

  • Weekly selection of various genres (fiction and non-fiction) with emphasis on vocabulary, comprehension, and study skills
  • Weekly leveled, skill-based practice readers of various genres
  • Trade books (fiction) emphasizing story elements


Students use the Houghton Mifflin textbook. They fine tune their math skills and then move to more complex mathematical operations.

  • Estimating to various place values
  • Double and triple digit multiplication
  • Long division
  • Fractions (add, subtract, multiply, divide)
  • Decimals (add, subtract, multiply, divide)
  • Simple algebraic equations
  • Word problems


The Houghton Mifflin Social Studies series is used to develop an understanding of how the United States came into being. Various Interact Units are incorporated. Colonial America is studied in depth.

  • Native American and Explorers
  • American History (exploration through the Revolutionary War)
  • Basic map skills
  • Understanding American Diversity
  • States and Capitals
  • State Report


The Scott Foresman textbook is used. The science curriculum consists of three major areas. In addition, the fifth graders must participate in the annual Science Fair. The major areas of focus are:

  • Life Science
  • Physical Science
  • Earth Science


Art is incorporated into many subject areas, especially Literature, Writing and History, as well as being taught for its own sake. Artists such as Mondrian, Pollack, and Utrillo are studied. Art-to-Grow-On is taught by a parent docent 4 times a year.


Fifth Grade students participate in the Middle School Physical Education Program. Students are given a locker and are required to wear PE uniforms. PE consists of preparing for the Presidential Fitness Test as well as learning skills for and participating in various sports such as soccer and volleyball.


Fifth Grade students go to the Computer Lab twice a week.

  • – each student has their own account to learn and improve on their typing skills.
  • Establish Google Drive account; become familiar with Google Docs; learn how to access word processing, spreadsheets and forms; follow step-by-step directions for practice activities
  • “Techno Sales” – organize and record data from a class bake sale; create a line graph, bar graph and pie graph; use formulas to calculate financial data (Microsoft Excel)
  • Create a (1/4) Letter Top Fold document to create a publication about an explorer (Microsoft Publisher)
  • Internet Safety


“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”


The music program at Christ Lutheran School (Grades K-6) employs the Orff-Schulwerk process, in which students, through play, movement, improvisation and creativity, learn musical concepts and theory. Singing and rhythm training is a regular part of the curriculum. Students are assessed in their ability to keep a steady beat, sing on pitch, and their understanding of basic music theory. Students in fifth grade learn to play the recorder (a flute-like instrument) as part of the music education. The goal of the music program is not to create future musicians, but to foster a safe environment in which students enjoy the art of music, and are encouraged to be creative and expressive without judgment. Students learn to objectively asses what they hear or what their fellow students create.

“The fact that children make beautiful music is less significant than the fact that music makes children beautiful.”

Cheryl Lavender


The major field trip our fifth grade class takes is to Astrocamp. This is a 3 day trip that every fifth grade class participates in.

Contact Mary Nicholson