Grade Six Curriculum

Mountain Laure Waldorf School - Grade 6Teaching changes significantly in the sixth grade to address new conceptual capacities that are awakening in the children as they approach adolescence. The curriculum, as well as the needs of individual students, becomes increasingly complex over the next few years. The new and often chaotically emerging individuality of the pre-adolescent yearns to find a place in the world that is unique and recognized and respected by others. The sixth grade is a firm, intentional step into the outer world. It is an arrival upon the Earth. Changes in the physical body as the children approach age 12 become noticeable. There is an increased awareness of gravity and weight; hormones begin to affect the feeling and emotional life as well as physical maturity; differences in gender development become a source of interest. The themes explored over the course of this school year are chosen expressly to assist both the inner and outer questing of these young people.

Sixth grade main lesson blocks include history (Ancient Greece and Rome), science (astronomy, geology and physics) and geography (Europe, Central and South America). Geometry is also covered either through running lessons or as a separate main lesson block. Students engage in the daily recitation of poetry, play recorder music, sing songs, paint, create artistically rendered geometric drawings, read a variety of books and perform a play – all of which relate to some aspect of the sixth grade curriculum.

In sixth grade, the students hear stories from Greek, Roman and medieval history. These are discussed, recounted, dramatized and written down as the subjects of compositions and dictations. Historical novels and biographies representing a wide variety of cultures are used as the reading materials. The students are assigned written book reports on some of their outside reading representing a wide variety of cultures.

With the study of the sciences, the students write objective descriptions. They practice writing down their observations of experiments done in class. In contrast to these objective descriptions they are also encouraged to write in poetic form about what they have learned. Research reports, such as an in-depth look at a particular European, Central or South American country, are assigned in order to help deepen the children’s understanding of the curriculum. Through the study of the paragraph, the sixth graders learn to build a composition. Rules for punctuation and grammar are reviewed. The students should know the eight parts of speech and be able to use nouns and pronouns as subject and object, work with comparative adjectives and adverbs, and with possessives. They continue to study verbs and verb tenses, spelling, vocabulary, and diction which are usually related to the main lesson subject.

Math in sixth grade often begins with a block of geometric constructions. Geometry can be taught as a separate main lesson block or as a running lesson throughout the year. Students learn to use the tools of geometry, such as a compass and a straightedge. They draw challenging and beautiful geometric constructions. These prepare the students for a more in-depth study of theoretical geometry in seventh grade.

There is an ongoing review of fractions and decimals. Percents are introduced and utilized during the business math block. During this block, students use percents in calculating sales tax, interest etc. Some other explorations may include running a class business and learning to budget.

Students learn formulas as a beginning to algebra studies. Some classes encounter the biography of Mohammed and the rise of Islam as part of an intro to algebra.

The metric system is introduced.

Physics, astronomy and geology are the sciences traditionally covered in sixth grade at Mountain Laurel School.

In the physics block, the students are involved in demonstrations of acoustics, optics, the effects of heat and cold, static electricity and magnetism. The approach is phenomenological: students observe and carefully describe the phenomena the teacher presents in these areas and come to understand the conditions that need to be present for these phenomena to occur.

During the astronomy block, the constellations visible in the region are presented through myth and story. Often the Greek myths are the template through which the constellations are presented. Students learn to orient themselves in space through “naked eye” observation of the sun and stars. They also learn to track movements of the celestial bodies by continual observation of sky phenomena.

In the geology block, students learn about the physical structure of the earth, the formation of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, and some of the common minerals and crystalline structures. They also study the use and location of various rocks, minerals, metals, and fossil fuels. Student work may include drawings of various geological formations, written summaries, collecting and identifying rock samples, painting scenes and modeling crystal forms in clay. This block lends itself well to on-site field trips to Minnewaska State Park and the Mohonk Preserve in the Shawangunk Mountains to study the geological formations as they actually occur in real life.

Mountain Laure Waldorf School - Grade 6GEOGRAPHY
The study of geography expands to include all of the Americas or Europe. Students explore Central and South American culture through its art, literature, handicrafts, music and history and are each assigned a particular country to research in depth.
Travel diaries provide a means for creative writing to spring forth from the factual information that the students gather, allowing them to engage with the fruit of their research on the feeling level. Students may share what they have learned with the class through oral reports and learn to draw accurate maps. This block may also include the study of the ancient civilizations of

Central and South America, such as the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas. Since the Spanish language is studied at Mountain Laurel, the class teacher and the Spanish teacher cooperate to present the content of this block.

Each student completes and presents a country report. The thread of cause and effect runs through much of the year’s curriculum – the interdependence of natural resources, wildlife and vegetation, connections between geology, astronomy and weather. Students become more aware of mineral resources, rock formations and various types of landscapes, and study climatic zones. Here they see the relationships of air and water currents to the landscape along with the movement of the earth around the sun as important factors in the measuring of the land.

Sixth grade continues to delve into world culture. Ancient Greece provides the transition between the mythological history of humankind’s cultures that formed the framework of studies in fourth and fifth grade and factual history rooted in historical records that will be the mainstay of historical studies for the remainder of the upper grades. A study of Homer’s Iliad provides the perfect segue from the mythological to the historical time period.

Weaving larger- than- life biographical figures into the dramatic flow of history is central to the history covered in sixth grade. The class examines the rise of Sparta and Athens through the figures of Lycurgus and Solon, the Persian Wars through Darius the Great and Xerxes of Persia and the Peloponnesian Wars through examining the great figures of that time such as Pericles and Socrates.

The Greek history block generally culminates with the study of the life of Alexander the Great. Roman history is studied from the founding of Rome to the Age of the Seven Kings, the Roman Republic and the establishment and expansion of the Roman Empire. Rome provides a perfect segue from the age of the pagan gods to the birth and spread of Christianity throughout Europe. The Roman kings and emperors (Romulus, Julius Caesar, Augustus etc.) provide excellent material for the biographical studies that form the foundation of historical study in the upper grades. Students may be assigned a particular emperor to research and report on. Drawing accurate maps, such as maps of ancient Greece, Alexander’s Empire and the Roman Empire, provide an important link between the history and geography studies of this year’s curriculum.