Grade 6


Grade 6 humanities introduces students to the development and rise of democratic practices in the classical Mediterranean world and the contexts and belief systems of major world religions through a multifaceted curriculum. Students begin the year with a rich exploration of mythology, examining how myths represent the worldviews and belief systems of different cultures and studying individual pantheons of gods and goddesses. Then students move to a study of the values, perspectives, and faith traditions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, as well as the cultures from which these religions developed. This exploration, through history and literature, includes sacred texts, myths, and contemporary works. Students then study the selection pressures that gave rise to the first recognizable iterations of Western civilization and, in particular, trace the progression of the Greek and Roman civilizations. In doing so, students discover the roots of many current systems of government and cultural customs, which serves as a precursor to their Grades 7 and 8 study of American history. Examining common elements in the creation and expansion of civilizations provides a thematic structure to the course, while investigations of the differences in government, art, philosophy, religion, and culture allow students to gain a deeper appreciation for, as well as a broader understanding of, these societies. Students explore the aspects of each civilization further using a variety of texts, expository and creative writing opportunities, hands-on activities, and projects.

The literature curriculum supports this exploration, exposing students to texts of various genres and styles. Selections ranging from myth and legend to fiction, short story, and nonfiction spark discussion of literary devices, language, and character. These texts inspire students’ own writing. Students explore character motivation, author purpose, metaphor, and theme in analytical writing and class discussion. A strong emphasis on independent reading, supported by our literature circles curriculum, helps each student to develop a profile as a reader, at once encouraging students to reach beyond their comfort zones and supporting them in making choices of just-right books to inspire a lifelong dedication to reading.

In Grade 6 humanities, students will:

  • gain an understanding of the commonalities of human existence, both on an individual level and in the context of building and maintaining a civilization;
  • engage with meaningful literature in order to better understand the written word, themselves, and the larger world;
  • increase and sharpen geographical skills, including the effective use of maps;
  •  practice essay-writing, note-taking, research skills, logical and creative thinking, and oral expression;
  • become more effective at reading and comprehending textbooks and other written material;
  • develop an awareness of and facility in discussion of current events as they relate to our global society;
  • examine the connections between the circumstances and events of their own lives and the lives of the inhabitants of the civilizations they are studying;
  • practice cooperative learning skills for cognitive development, interpersonal team-building, and growth of positive habits of social interaction; and
  • promote interdisciplinary awareness through integration of art, mathematics, Spanish, and language arts.


Using units from the Illustrative Mathematics curriculum as well as teacher-developed materials, students explore and deepen their understanding of areas of mathematics previously introduced, while also investigating new areas. Most of the mathematics arises from realistic contexts from which students must extract the relevant information. The curriculum focuses on four strands of mathematics: Number, algebra, geometry, and statistics.

In the number strand, students work to enrich their understanding of, and computation skills with, fractions, decimals, percentages, and ratios. In the algebra strand, students explore ways to generalize calculations and solve one-variable equations. The geometry strand centers on topics of volume, scale, and geometric transformations and repeating patterns in art. Finally, work in the statistics strand concerns measures of central tendency (mean, median, and mode) as well as graphical representations. Students use data to draw conclusions and to evaluate the conclusions of others. Throughout the strands, there is ample practice in whole-number arithmetic and number sense. A number of the units across the year are interdisciplinary in nature and are taught in conjunction with science, social studies, and art. There is also a significant engineering and design component throughout.


The Grade 6 curriculum blends earth, life, and physical sciences in real-life simulations that allow students to experience scientific problem-solving and the consequences of choices they make. In a unit on wetlands, students explore subjects such as weather, water chemistry, habitat destruction, invasive species, and the influence of human activity on our scientific community. This unit includes a fall trip to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where students see first-hand the biodiversity and conservation issues associated with a local estuary. In a space science unit, students learn about our place in the solar system, conduct experiments modeling astronomical observations, and explore extraordinary objects in space. Drawing from their previous experiences with investigative inquiry, group discussions, and research, students use the scientific method as a tool for creating, organizing, and conducting a formal laboratory experiment focusing on topics in buoyancy and density. Units in science build upon interdisciplinary work involving both science and mathematics.