Islands was the topic of the autumn term for year 6, linking in with our two class reads, “Kensuke’s Kingdom” by Michael Morpurgo and “Floodland” by Marcus Sedgwick. We considered the financial and social implications of going off sailing around the world for a year like the main protagonist in Kensuke’s Kingdom. Moving diary extracts from the marooned boy’s point of view and formal newspaper reports detailing the discovery of a spy on the Eel island were some of the English writing tasks we completed.
We have been focusing on number this term: place value with numbers up to 10 million, negative numbers and fractions, decimals and percentages. We have been practising our mathematical reasoning, which is proving suitably challenging for our top mathematicians, who are finding they need to show great resilience as they battle their way out of the learning pit! Applying our ability to use formal written calculations to solve open-ended investigations and problems has been targeted, and we are growing in confidence in areas like long division with decimal answers, dividing fractions and working out percentage increase and decrease.
Andy Goldsworthy, a British sculpture who specialises in ephemeral art was this term’s focus artist: inspired by his land art produced in natural settings, the children were set the task of creating their own beautiful creations using found materials. The activity was hugely enjoyable and the art produced simply stunning. Before that, we explored paper sculpting, learning different manipulative techniques for achieving 3D effects with paper. These newly-learnt skills were then applied to designing our own spectacular 3D island scenes, tying in with this term’s topic. We studied the influence and achievement of Barack Obama as our Black History Month significant figure, writing a biography and producing posters that capture the essence of his ideals about equal opportunities for all.
Classification and living things was our first topic this term, and we practised categorising plants and animals according to observable characteristics and recording our findings in keys and tables. Following on from that, we studied light, planning and carrying out scientific experiments to answer questions and collect evidence to support or refute ideas, for example, to prove light travels in straight lines; in addition, we also explored the positioning of sun parasols by an outdoor pool for maximum shade. The practical experiments proved extremely popular and the year 6 children proved their competence in setting up fair tests by controlling variables.
“All the world’s a stage…” the great Bard had said, and all Year 6 were certainly enthralled with the gripping plots of Macbeth and The Tempest. We penned persuasive letters on behalf of Lady Macbeth to goad her husband to take the crown; assembled newspaper articles reporting on the King’s murder; wrote balanced arguments exploring who was the most to blame for Macbeth’s demise; and created powerful setting and character descriptions inspired by the drama of The Tempest. Role play and hot-seating was one way we immersed ourselves into the characters. As a prelude to the plays, Hawking class had learnt all about William Shakespeare’s life and wrote informative biographies. Book week was a much-enjoyed opportunity to dive into the writings of our celebrated author, Roald Dahl, one book in particular, Danny Champion of the World. As a cross-curricular theme, we not only enjoyed the story but used our design and technology skills to invent new pheasant-catching tricks, working in small groups to plan and present our ideas to the class. We studied what makes an eye-catching poster by learning a little about typography, “white space” and how to incorporate images in our writing effectively. During Book Week, we joined with Darwin Class to collaborate on the year six part of the whole school choral speak, a narrative poem by Roald Dahl, which was powerfully executed.
Measures was one of our foci this term, converting between different standard units of measure and becoming acquainted with the imperial units that are still in use today and seeing what they are roughly equivalent to in metric. We also practised reflecting and translating shapes on a full, four-quadrant co-ordinate grid and got to grips with angles – angles on lines, around a point, in shapes, and explored the properties of 2D shapes. Algebra and working with formulae was relished by some, whilst others applied tenacity in order to improve with practice. We had lots of practice with SAT-style questions in number and calculations, and honed our timing and application of skills and knowledge.
Our science topic this term Evolution and Inheritance. We learnt about Charles Darwin and his work studying the finches on the Galapagos Islands and how it contributed to his work. As a result, we greatly enjoyed Jules Howard’s visit (the “fossil man”!) where year 6 had the opportunity to put questions to an expert in the field of Evolution and Inheritance, which was one of our topics this term; handling real fossils and bones and studying how natural selection and mutation results in the animals we have on earth today was hugely fascinating for us all. Studying Darwin’s Theory of Evolution gave historical context to this enjoyable topic and enabled the students to consider how science itself is ever evolving as our knowledge increases. One of the highlights was most definitely Science Week, where we investigated how batteries work and went on to see if we could light a bulb using fruit! The pure wonder and delight on their faces as lemons, limes, grapefruit and even pears were connected up to series circuits and produced enough electricity to light the diode was priceless. During Book Week, as part of our fun book-related activities, we baked some “pheasant eggs”, which were dough balls with surprise ingredients (raisins, chocolate, jelly beans to name a few!) hidden inside – learning about yeast, gluten and irreversible chemical changes is much more enjoyable when you get to eat the fruit of your labours!