5 Incredible Things You’ll Learn in Sixth Grade

What should you expect when starting the sixth grade?
What should you expect when starting the sixth grade?
Katrina Wittkamp/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Just a few years ago, you were learning to write your name -- and now look at you. You're entering the sixth grade, where you'll be switching rooms throughout the school day, storing your books in a hallway locker and figuring out how to get to class on time.

Even if you're a bit worried about the details, like memorizing a school map, remembering your locker combination and avoiding the tardy bell, you're not alone. Every other sixth grader feels a little stressed, too, even if he or she never shows it.

The good news is that just a few days after the school year starts, you'll wonder why you ever worried. And you'll have plenty of incredible discoveries to look forward to (and no, we're not talking about the lunch lady's meatloaf surprise). From wrapping up your own mummy to becoming an author, sixth grade is going to be a fun time.

How to Make a Mummy

Sure, witnessing a zombie apocalypse is probably your first choice. Discovering how mummies are put together could be a cool runner-up, though.

One of the incredible things you'll encounter in sixth grade is the study of ancient civilizations. Students in a few sixth grade classrooms even create their own mummified remains by curing chicken legs in salt solutions for several weeks, until they're sufficiently dried and ready to be wrapped in gauze strips.

For extra credit, be sure to suggest a variety of Egyptian names for your chicken, or decorate a shoebox with hieroglyphics and use it as a sarcophagus. (If your teacher isn't comfortable with raw chicken projects, you could direct him or her to step-by-step mummy project instructions).

How to Argue Your Case
You'll need to start your research if you want to debate like the champs.
You'll need to start your research if you want to debate like the champs.
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In the sixth grade, you may encounter an elective debate class or discover debate as a portion of another class. Either way, you'll experience one of the oldest art forms known to man -- argument.

Debate is a process that follows clear rules. You and your classmates will take turns presenting factual information that supports your argument (or pokes holes in your opponent's argument).

Sure, your teacher will probably feel great about teach you all kinds of helpful skills, like public speaking, abstract thinking and analytical questioning [source: Sunda]. You, however, can delve into your assigned debate topics knowing just how handy these persuasive skills will be the next time you try to convince your parents to get a puppy or go on a fun trip.

How to Use Fossils to Tell Time

You'll probably still need to wear a watch, but there's an incredible bonus for paying attention during fifth-period geology: You can use fossils to tell time, too.

A fossil is a remnant of a long-ago animal or plant preserved in the earth's crust. And the type of fossil can help determine how long ago the animal lived. For example, if scientists know a now-extinct fish was swimming around 50 million years ago, finding a fossil of that fish offers clues as to how old the soil is. This is known as an "index" fossil, because it helps scientists organize the different ages of soil.

How to Be a Mad Scientist
It's probably time to don your mad scientist laboratory coat.
It's probably time to don your mad scientist laboratory coat.
Katrina Wittkamp/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Without science, there wouldn't be Iron Man, Spider-man or a gang of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. (Haven't heard of the men in green? Ask your parents; they'll know.) And now you can be a bona fide scientist, too.

In sixth grade, you'll start using a school laboratory and conducting experiments using chemical compounds. There will be glass beakers, Bunsen burners and measuring droppers. And about the time it starts to feel like you're manning the crime lab in an episode of "CSI: NY," you'll discover something even better: the scientific process. During sixth grade, you'll take theory and hypothesis to a whole new level as you look for scientific answers.

How to Be an Author

Becoming a sixth grade author will be as "sweet as a sugar donut." And by the time you're done, you'll be able to sling similes about donuts or anything else that comes to mind.

Similes, words or phrases which compare one thing to another, are just one of the incredible literary tools you'll learn in sixth grade. You'll also brush up on sentence structure, punctuation and spelling as you research and write everything from essays to informative articles and persuasive stories [source: Williams].

This may seem like a lot to tackle, but don't worry: Your brain will keep up. It's growing at a rapid rate, making new connections and absorbing new information. You're already set up for sixth grade success. All you have to do is pay attention.


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Author's Note: 5 Incredible Things You'll Learn in Sixth Grade

How well I remember sixth grade. Some days, my hair glistened in the sunlight that filtered through the skylights as I walked the hallways filled with admirers. I even remembered my locker combination on the first try.

Others days, for no clear reason at all, I felt so awkward, it was nearly impossible to walk into a classroom, like I'd been stupefied. When I did manage to will myself onward, it was only with the certainty that everyone was staring at my ungainliness, ready to mock me for the rest of my schooldays. There was no way I was normal. Except that I was. And every other sixth grader was, too.

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  • Ghezzi, Patti. "Sixth Grade Social Changes: What to Expect." (June 27, 2012) School Family. http://www.schoolfamily.com/school-family-articles/article/10625-sixth-grade-social-changes-what-to-expect/
  • Sunda, Ruth. "Teaching Debate in the Elementary Classroom." (June 27, 2012) Kyrene School District. http://www.kyrene.org/schools/brisas/sunda/debate/teaching_debate.htm
  • Williams, Julie. "Sixth Grade Reading and Writing: What to Expect." (June 27, 2012) Education. http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Sixth_Grade_Language_Arts/
  • Family Education. "Sixth Grade: What Will They Learn?" (June 27, 2012) http://school.familyeducation.com/middle-school/assessment/56221.html