Sixth Grade

Coordinator: Henry Wagner

Students create artworks using a variety of media and techniques: furnishing imaginary rooms, creating their own tessellations, 3D letter designs, visual puns, simulated stained glass, Celtic knot drawings, marbleized paper, Mola-inspired collages, and much more!

Art history and the relationship between art and the students’ other studies are always points of reference and emphasis. At the end of the year, students will complete a number of group photography projects, including a scavenger hunt and the creation of a visual alphabet. The sixth grade Art class is all about embracing individual styles and taking artistic risks.

The sixth grade technology course focuses on coding using spreadsheets, python, and OpenSCAD (or BlocksCAD). Projects and homework are tailored to student interests.

Students learn how spreadsheets can make life and math easier. They experience the computing and organizational power of spreadsheets by creating an annual budget report for a fake company of their choosing.

Python is explored in the context of game design. Python is a popular high-level programming language because of its emphasis on code-readability, ease of use, and flexibility to code for a web, mobile or desktop platform. This language is used by professional programmers world-wide and extensively at the highest levels of scientific and mathematical research.

OpenSCAD is a programming based CAD tool that requires foresight, organization, and challenging mathematics. Students will develop the skill to see a complex object as an amalgamation of simple shapes.


Co-ed health classes in the fifth and sixth grade focus on making healthy life decisions. Students learn about healthy eating habits as well as principles of exercise.

This class touches on exercise physiology and what happens in the human body as we perform specific tasks.

Students explore through maps, art, epics, ballads, tapestries, architecture, and theater, film, and projects, major shifts of the Medieval and Renaissance eras: the fall of Rome into dark ages, and the rise of theocracy under the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and Islam; the move from slavery to feudalism; the rise of nations and the romance of chivalry; the excesses of religious intolerance under the Crusades and the Inquisition; the growth of towns and trade and the rights of the common man; and wars over wealth and power.

We follow how the desire for exotic goods from the orient led to interest in navigation, prompting a new age of exploration and provoking a scientific revolution, which weakened faith in the infallibility of the Church and brought about the Protestant Reformation, as well a renaissance of arts, philosophy, and new political ideas about the rights of common men [rights of women in 400 years]. We culminate the year with a trip to the Cloisters.

The students in this course learn to read closely, write well, and think critically about the world. We have an ambitious and expansive reading list, including several summer reading selections.

Our texts include, but are not limited to, Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach; Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game; John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas; and Paul Fleischman’s Seedfolks. These texts show how literature connects people from distinct cultures and creeds. We delve into the minds of authors and characters who differ from us completely, allowing us to better understand both others and ourselves. Aside from writing a number of essays on these books, the students are encouraged to write creatively and to believe in the nourishing effect that writing has on the mind.

This course provides students with an introduction to philosophy, as well as initiating them in the formal study of Logic. In the beginning of the year, students learn many logical fallacies (ad hominem, post hoc ergo propter hoc, etc.)—not just what they are, but how to perceive them as well.

We also discuss a variety of paradoxes and philosophical problems, including such storied scenarios as “The Trolley Problem” and “The Ship of Theseus.” Toward the end of the year, students read texts about different philosophies and worldviews to become better acquainted with different ways of thinking. In a nutshell, this class is designed to broaden perspectives and to form better thinkers.

The sixth grade mathematics curriculum balances the manipulation of real numbers with the exploration of underlying abstract concepts.

Areas of emphasis include: numerical work; word problems involving fractions, decimals and percents; geometry of solid figures, definition of π, area and perimeter of a circle, volume of simple prisms, classification of geometric entities, angle sum of a triangle, and properties associated with parallel lines; number theory; and miscellaneous topics such as the tests for divisibility, sequence of numbers, algebraic methods for proportional and percent equations, use of variables to represent quantities, use of relational symbols, and extension of the number line to include negative quantities.

This course provides an overview of a variety of input/output sensors and control mechanisms. The course focuses on projects involving the open-source arduino microcontroller and the arduino programming language. Students will gain experience in collecting data and programming responses based on these criteria. Students will be exposed to all aspects of robotics including, programming, wiring, soldering, and a lot of troubleshooting. Each day, students will learn to program and utilize a new type of sensor and the course will build toward combining this functionality into a useful problem-solving machine. 3-D printing and CAD will also be a key component in designing and creating a unique and beneficial robotic entity. The course culminates in a final project which differs each year depending on student interest.

The syllabus introduces many different aspects of music. We move from music theory to pop-style song writing as we explore different genres of music together. Students also learn various songs throughout the school year which they perform at winter and spring concerts.

All students also have the opportunity to arrange for private/semi-private instrument lessons (violin, cello, flute, trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, piano, bass, percussion, guitar), or voice lessons, and to join Middle School Chorus, and the all-school Jazz Ensemble.

Students begin with a small speck of our solar system. We commence our study with the evolution of Earth and how the water cycle, carbon cycle, and rock cycle make life possible.

We examine the structure of the Earth, its atmosphere and magnetosphere. We learn how the formation of volcanoes, earthquakes, and mountain ranges are caused by the shifting of the tectonic plates. We travel to Ogdensburg, NJ to voyage into the Sterling Hill Mine. Students intensely examine the moon, its motions, phases, eclipses, and selenography. We also study tides and human explorations. We design and create a lunar base in which a team could survive and accomplish a mission, all in preparation for a simulated Mission to the Moon at the Buehler Challenger Science Center. We study our own star and its system of asteroids, meteors, comets, planets and dwarf planets. We learn to find constellations and planets in the night sky in anticipation of our four-day trip to the Hawthorne Valley Farm. We ponder different types of stars, their life cycles, and the nuclear fusion that makes them shine, culminating with cosmology: ideas about the nature of the universe, galactic clusters, types of galaxies and their life cycles, solar systems, and theories about how it all began and how it all may end.

Students practice all the skills that make theater come alive: character creation, proper breathing, diction, spatial awareness, conflict resolution, and all the behind the scenes aspects of play production including constructing sets, painting scenery, creating light and sound effects, designing posters, and sewing costumes. They leap imaginatively into theater games, culminating in a full-scale production, drawn from their history and literature classes.

By developing characters in historical context, pursuing their characters’ dreams, and confronting the obstacles that thwart them, students broaden their own empathy and compassion, becoming an ensemble in a leap of faith, requiring each member to contribute the best they have, in order to make us believe.

All students study a world language four times a week. In sixth grade, they continue studying the language selected in grade five or if newly enrolling, may choose one of the following: Spanish, French, Japanese, or Mandarin.

Students are tested and placed into a multi-grade class with others at the same level of fluency.

All classes are taught by native speakers who conduct classes completely in the language they teach. At THS, we believe that immersion is the most effective method for teaching languages.

For three weeks the sixth grade will combine every discipline in the curriculum to play a hands-on political simulation on a three-dimensional game board.

Players explore the connectedness of the global community through the lens of the economic, social, and environmental crises and the imminent threat of war and develop the negotiation skills necessary for survival. The goal of the game is to extricate each country from dangerous circumstances and achieve global prosperity with the least amount of military intervention. The World Peace Game program is also offered as a summer camp to students who cannot play during the school year.