6th Grade Academics


In the sixth grade, the theme is Rome and the following Middle Ages. The teacher will also choose either the geography of Europe, which parallels the study of Rome and the Middle Ages, or that of Central and South America.

In geography the students study the cultural, economic, and social aspects of each area presented. Through this study the children become more aware of social problems and at this time have the capacity to develop a feeling of social responsibility. The students learn that different people from different cultures have various ways of interpreting the world. In this way the children develop compassion and understanding for different cultures around the world.

The students recite sophisticated poetry arising out of the curriculum. There is more emphasis on quality of speech and dramatic expression beginning in the sixth grade. In addition, the children recite verses, riddles, and tongue twisters. In grammar the children work with the subjunctive mood, and present and past perfect tenses. They continue to work with parts of speech with the continued emphasis on giving the students a feeling for the expressive qualities and possibilities of the English language.

Math in the sixth grade consists of regular weekly practice of skills developed up to this point. In addition, two morning lesson blocks are taught in math: business math and geometry. In business math students enter into the economic realm and learn about the history and intricacies of the decimal system. The children are presented with the basics of banking and how to calculate different types of interest.

Beginning in the sixth grade, the children learn to use the compass and ruler to create intricate geometric constructions. First the children learn basic geometric terminology and how to bisect a line. Then they learn to bisect angles and to construct parallel lines, angles, and triangles. Eventually the children learn to construct more complex geometric forms. Historical origins and uses of geometry are discussed in relation to the study of Rome and the Middle Ages.

In history, students begin by learning the mythology of the founding of Rome, and its seven kings. They learn how Rome started as a small city-state, and its evolvution into a great empire. Through hearing many famous stories and biographies, the students will come to understand how loyalty began to shift from the family to the state, and how the strength, courage and integrity of individuals gave rise to Rome’s greatness. Then they will come to know how wealth and abundance, and the desire for personal power led to its excesses and downfall. As a practical activity sixth graders will recreate models of Roman architecture or daily life situations from materials of their choice. The students hear how Europe descends into the “Dark Ages” and learn about the rise of feudalism. The teacher may decide to include Arthurian legends at this time.

In the sixth grade the children learn basic geology. They study the basic elements that make up the earth and how some of them were formed. They become familiar with the different layers of the planet and in this way are exposed to the different historical epochs. The study of the lime cycle illuminates for the students that lime, a mineral substance, actually originated from living creatures, shells, and corals. The origins of coal, slate, and marble are also studied and in this way the children are introduced to the idea that many mineral substances were actually formed out of living matter. They may also study the precious metals and gems. Overall the students become familiar with basic geological formations, the elements that make up the earth and with certain cycles and processes that have contributed to the formation of the earth.

In physics, learning is accomplished through the observation of phenomena. Then from those observations they come to their own conclusions regarding the phenomenon being studied. The children study heat and simple aspects of warmth and cold. They explore optics studying the properties of light, darkness and color. The introduction to acoustics includes vibration, pitch, sound transmission, resonance, and intervals. Sometimes musicians are invited to perform for the class. Finally, magnetism is studied and electricity is presented as the phenomenon of attraction and repulsion.

Some astronomy may be studied in the sixth grade though it is most often taken up in the seventh grade. Combining observation, legend, and historical fact the children learn to map the skies. They learn how the early astronomers view the heavens and how the first explorers relied on the stars to help them chart their way. They study the constellations, planets, meteors, celestial equator, meridians, and the path of the sun and the moon.

Our 6th grade class performs the Maypole dance every year.