Autumn Term 2 2023
Welcome back. We had such a fantastic first half term of Year 6 together and I hope you’ve all had a lovely half term break and feel fresh and ready to learn. We’ve got lots planned for the half term up to Christmas and I’m sure it’s going to be lots of fun. I’m excited to see you back to school, fully rested after the half term break and ready to learn even more!
We are enjoying our focus on virtues in both whole school worship and our class collective worship. We are currently learning about prayer and looking at different sources that teach us about prayer. We have been listening to the words of Pope Francis who teaches us that we are instruments and reflections of the Lord’s peace.
We have been enjoying worship through songs in class too. Here is our current favourite one which links back to our last virtue and the idea of agape which is the love that God asks from us. This is a great type of love and our God is a great God! Parents have been joining us in class for worship already this half term, and they have picked up this song quickly!
Year 6 dressed the prayer table to participate in Remembrance Day which is a perfect introduction to our unit of work this half term about justice. The children also wrote some beautifully thoughtful prayers for peace and to remember those who have lost their lives at war and their families left behind. They made links to what they had learnt in history about Armistice Day, including the subject specific vocabulary which we worked on to deepen their understanding.
Thank you to Marius who played The Last Post on his trumpet at the end of the two minutes silence.
Our new virtue to live to by for the next few weeks is generosity. We are inspired in worship together to reflect on what this means and how we can be disciples of Jesus. We know we are living out this virtue if we notice others in need, think of others before ourselves, feely give with no reward and we’re willing to make a sacrifice for others. We learnt a new song in worship linked to generosity. Please enjoy this song when you worship and pray together at home:
In worship, we are now preparing for Christmas through prayer and worship around the advent wreath. The children have the opportunity to take an advent prayer bag home with them to extend their worship beyond the classroom and into the home with their families.
Live Simply: Environment Education
Y6 Planet Protectors were very happy to help the FS2 Planet Protectors with their Live Simply project. The final product (wild flower seed paper) made by FS2 was made in class and prepared to share with the local community. Y6 stuck instructions to the back of the card which was all cut out from old cardboard due to go into the recycling bins. FS2 and Y6 planet protectors went to the local hardware shop who were pleased to give out to customers for free during the festive season. If you look carefully, you’ll see that FS2 made star and Christmas tree shapes. Don’t they look great! Let’s hope we get more wild flowers in the community next year as a result of this project. Thank you to Y6 for helping!
RE – Justice
Our new topic this half term is Justice. We are all called to work for justice and in this topic we will learn what justice is, They will explore the concept through work on some of the prophets who spoke out against injustice as well as learning about some inspirational Christians who stood up for justice and how challenging that can be, like Oscar Romero. Once Advent begins, we will further explore the meaning of Advent and the customs associated with Advent and Christmas and why this time of year is so important to Christians around the world. We will also learn more about other faiths and their beliefs/traditions around Christmas.
Year 6 have explored the meaning of justice and have shown an excellent understanding so far already. They have enjoyed using Bible journalling to explore some of the prophets who spoke out against injustice.
We have now moved on to learning about 3 inspirational Christians who felt called to serve God: Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day.
The children watched great videos to learn about these inspirational Christians; each individual had different heritage and experiences, but they all recognised injustice in the world and serve to be truly inspirational followers of Jesus and relevant to us today.
Watch this beautiful animation at home together to learn more about Oscar Romero, who is known as a martyr. We also learned about the term ‘martyr‘.
You could also watch this child-friendly animation to learn more about Martin Luther King who was inspired by his faith and the teachings of Mahatma Ghandi:
Watch this useful video about Dorothy Day’s beautiful story. She had many challenges in her life and made mistakes. She was sometimes seen as a trouble maker, but she turned her life around, converted to the Catholic Faith and championed for the poor in America.
We have a fantastic range of new books in our class reading area which have been changed to reflect the new topic of War and Justice. Our class text is War Horse by Michael Morporgo and we have a lovely range of his books there for the children to take home and enjoy, as well as plenty of copies of War Horse for anyone wanting to read ahead.
We have some super non-fiction books about WW1 and WW2 for the children to explore. These books can be taken home, but we also have time in class to read about our topic of war so these books are often very popular in class too.
We also have a nice range of dyslexia friendly books too that anyone can read as they’re great stories. In this area, we have images of successful dyslexic people to inspire the children that they can achieve, and a reminder that we are all the same but we all learn in different ways.
Y6 have been enjoying quizzes about the authors in our learning journey so far this year. These authors are displayed in our reading area. They have also made some creative facts files about the authors, and these are displayed in our reading area too; these are chosen by our class library monitors who love organising the books and keeping it looking inviting.
Over the half term, we will be using Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare and War Horse by Michael Morpurgo as powerful stimuli to engage writing. We will write letters, instructions, a splash of poetry and non-chronological reports, both in English lessons and across other curriculum subjects too. A focus this half term will be on writing in a formal tone. To support the children’s writing to a greater depth, there will be opportunities for lots of quality reading time, comparing themes in key texts, lots of vocabulary meaning work, role play and hot seating prior to planning, writing and editing and improving their work. We will also evaluate examples of different text types prior to writing to deepen the children’s understanding of language choices, purpose, formality and features of different text types. I can’t wait!
To support your child at home, please continue to encourage independent and consistent reading habits – at least 20 minutes each day of reading.
Year 6 are still working on some objectives from last half term as we slowed the learning journey down to further embed and consolidate skills and knowledge. Therefore, we are still working on key number facts, such as prime numbers, square and cube numbers and multiples and factors. We will also consolidate short division with remainders in word problems. Nearer the end of half term, we will move onto finding fractions of amounts and finding percentages of amounts in time for the January sales – fingers crossed! The children will also do regular arithmetic practise in short bursts to keep their mental skills and their written methods developing nicely. Work on times tables is still needed to avoid silly errors and improve speed so please keep supporting with this at home as these should have been cracked by the end of Y4. Short regular practise is the best way forward with this.
Year 6 have been working on lots of problem solving. They have now moved onto division methods which we have been revising to get lots of practise before moving onto word problems and puzzles. Y6 have been working on how to show a remainder as a decimal. There are some simple videos below for you to watch at home with your children to revise short division and turning remainders into decimals.
Year 6 finished their Science learning journey about the human body by investigating the effects of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. The children shared ideas and learnt that drugs can have both beneficial and negative impacts. We discussed when it would be safe to take a drug such as paracetamol or an inhaler and when it wouldn’t. Children learnt about the addictive qualities of nicotine in cigarettes and the damage that smoking can do to many aspects of their health. They also learnt about the dangers of drinking too much alcohol and the negative effects that can have on the body. The topic ended with a true or false quiz, where the children answered quickfire questions about drugs, alcohol and tobacco and showed what they had learnt.
We introduced the new topic by doing some balloon investigations. How could we get a balloon to make our hair stand on end, pick up paper or stick to a window?
The answer was with static ELECTRICITY!! The children were amazed by how easy it was to create static electricity using friction on different types of materials such as plastic and fabric. We deepened our understanding of electricity. It is not just something in circuits and wires. Electricity is all around us and can be created in nature.
The children have set up basic circuits using batteries, wires, bulbs and buzzers. They investigated different types of circuits and proved that some would work and some would not. Common problems included gaps in the circuits and batteries with the terminals connected incorrectly. After securing their knowledge of creating basic circuits, the children explored ways in which to increase the brightness of a bulb or the loudness of a buzzer. The children also added motors into their circuits and many were able to find a use for these; some god examples used fans and wheels.
The children have been working hard to include scientific vocabulary in their work and write thorough explanations of how circuits work.
Year 6 have also made sure they have been using their maths skills during science lessons. We measured the length of the wires we use in our circuits and found the total length of wire for our full circuits. It was quite tricky to measure the wires as the children found they had to straighten them out fully in order to get an accurate measurement.
“In class we made fans with circuits and they had a motor to make the fans go round. It was very fun and everyone enjoyed it. We also made bulb light up and buzzers sound off. We talked about the keywords. Mostly everyone made a fan out of paper. For the circuit we used batteries, wires ,cells, switch, motor, buzzer and bulbs.”
JCH and AB
Remembrance Theme Paper Making Art Workshop
On Friday 10th November, Year 6 enjoyed a Remembrance themed art workshop in which they explored an artistic way of making paper. The workshop was led by Christine from Art Rooms who used to be a primary school teacher and after having children, set up the company of Art Rooms to follow her artistic passions and interests. Not only did the children get to try something that was new and hands on, but we also heard about a real life example of how artistic skills can link to jobs and careers.
The children learnt about the process of making paper and explored how this may have changed over the years – considering the use of machinery and factories that mass produce. The children used a range of equipment. They first had to stir the pulp, and then capture it in a sieve like tool. Once the children had cracked this method, they had time to practise the skill before carefully creating their own designs with poppies. Their hand made paper was then left to dry over the weekend. Take a look at the children in action and their results!
Year 6 have an exciting project underway in the build up to Christmas. We don’t want to give too much away, but our DT project this half term involved lots of sewing. The children have been working very hard to improve their fine motor skills as these are crucial to making good progress in DT, as well as in many other aspects of school life. We had a knot tying competition and then worked hard to learn how to thread a needle quickly – some children can now thread a needle more than 20 times in a minute!
The children have practised some common stitches including running stitch, cross stitch, overhand and herringbone stitch.
Now that the children have the knowledge of different types of stitches and the skills to be able to sew a range themselves, we have been looking at other handmade products available to buy and evaluating them. We stayed with the Christmas theme and looked at a wide range of Christmas decorations. The children had their top tips to follow which included by starting simply with discussing orally what they liked about each product and perhaps what they disliked. It’s important that we recognise that we all have different tastes so some products appeal to some of us and not others. After that, they independently evaluated the products commenting on the use of colour, stitches and embellishment. The children self-assessed as they worked to ensure that their evaluations were thorough and covered all 3 aspects.
After looking at these products already available on the market, they used this inspiration to plan and design their own Christmas decorations which they will shortly be making.The children love DT and are looking forward to getting on to the making of their product. Before we can do that, we need to look at how we can progress our sewing skills to move from Binka to felt which doesn’t have holes already spaced out for us. A little practice on felt is therefore needed before we dive into making the actual Christmas decoration. We have lots to do as Christmas is fast approaching!
Our brand new topic this half term is World War I. Before we start to look at the details of WW1, we looked at out historical enquiry question for this half term which is, ‘How did expansion of empires contribute to WWI? . Over the weeks, we will be trying to build up a picture through each lesson to be able to answer this questions in detail.
We started by learning vocabulary needed in order to understand why WW1 started in the first place. The vocabulary included: declared, threat, allies, alliances, defend, agreement, colonisation and imperialism. They made a glossary of these words and then learnt why WW1 started. This was pretty tough as there are so many different things to understand but Y6 did a great job as they had the understanding of imperialism, colonisation and how this caused tension. To help keep these words bubbling and deepen our understanding, there is a table-top activity in the reading area for the children, and we will keep revisiting the language in our history lessons so they can apply what they know.
They learnt about the Central Powers and Triple Entente. Y6 are familiar with Horrible Histories from the TV so asked to watch some episodes which made a lot more sense after our lesson.
Once they understood why WW1 started, they started making predictions about how Wetherby might have been affected based on our basic starting knowledge of men going to war. We then looked back at prior learning about battles during the Stone Age, Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Greece, Romans and Vikings (all studied in KS2 earlier) so that we can make predictions about what battle might have been like in WW1, considering significant changes during the industrial revolution.
The weather is getting chillier, so this half term we have planned lots of exciting indoor PE opportunities for the children. In Year 6, some of the sticky knowledge that we want the children to remember is about the role of a referee and what skills a referee must use to take charge of a match. As part of this, the children are being given the opportunity to work as the referee of a match in PE at school. We had some great refs for our first two lessons, where each child was put in charge of a short game of two different kinds of benchball. We evaluated what the challenges of being a referee are. The children told me that it is easier to be a referee when the players respect you and don’t question your decisions. Another challenge is to keep your eyes on what is happening in different parts of the game at the same time and spot fouls. A last challenge was keeping track of the score of the game and the making sure that all players stick to the rules. All the children agreed that it wasn’t an easy job at all and had lots of respect for the people who do this job for our sports.
Another key part of the Y6 curriculum for PE is developing sports leadership skills. We ask children to lead parts of the warm ups in PE and, with our prior learning in Science, children have been very thorough about warming up all the key muscle groups of the body such as the abs, quads, deltoids, biceps and calves. Also in PE, to get our heart rates up, we have been performing simple exercises such as star jumps and sit ups with a twist. The children have been telling each other how many of each exercise to do in French in order to practise using their French numbers in another context. A great start to this half term’s PE.
This half term, our Dance lessons with Ms Crolla are linked to our World War 1 topic. The children have been exploring this theme through the medium of dance. We started by looking at marching rhythms and making quick, repetitive steps in time with the beat. We then added turns and salutes into the routines. When they mastered marching, the children worked in small groups to march in time together – a much trickier skill!
The next parts of our dance were linked to the roles people had in earlier 20th century Britain, just before the outbreak of war. We created a series of motifs showing farming and agricultural movements, such as scything and picking. After linking a short sequence of these, we added a similar short section to music with a different rhythm. This showed the faster, robotic movements that factory workers would have performed. The children were careful to perform in an exaggerated and precise way, linking a longer series of movements and beginning to develop mirroring sequences with a partner.
The children have impressed me with their group work and the confident way they perform in front of their peers.
Visit from the Mayor of Wetherby
On Monday 7th November, we had a visit from the Mayor of Wetherby, Neil, who came to talk to us in school about his role as Mayor, how he became the Mayor and the important things he does to support the town of Wetherby through the town council. Mayor Neil talked to us about he became the Mayor and told the children that he was elected and appointed Mayor during the pandemic which meant he was brought in as Mayor over zoom, and his wife had to place his chains on him, instead of having this done during a ceremony with the council.
The Mayor talked to us about democracy and inclusion in the local community. He shared that he is passionate about making a difference and shared that he knows that the children at St Joseph’s are also passionate about making a difference too. The children asked lots of thoughtful questions and were extremely interested. Some questions they asked were:
- What do you like best about your role?
- What does your role involve?
- How much do you get paid for this very important job?
The children were shocked to learn that being a Mayor is a voluntary role meaning he doesn’t get paid anything for this very important role. In fact, the Mayor also has another job that he gets paid for where he works hard to keep children safe. The Mayor shared that he most enjoys going out in the community, especially visiting schools because he believes children are the future of our community. The Mayor shared that because of covid, he wasn’t able to carry out his work in the local community, so his term has been extended for one year, which is very rare. The Mayor shared how pleased he was that he was able to do this and that his term will end shortly after the Coronation of the King, something that he is really looking forward to.
Our school councillors then had an opportunity to speak to him further, ask him any questions they had and even try on his Mayor chain. This visit supported our learning about the British Values, about democracy as the Mayor is voted for and elected, about Individual Liberty – having the freedom of choice and how the Mayor can support this in our town and so much more! It was an exciting morning to welcome such an important member of our local community into our school. Thank you to our Mayor of Wetherby for visiting St Joseph’s! We look forward to welcoming you back to our school in the future.
Road Safety Workshop
The Leeds Road Safety team came in to Year 6 to teach the children about road safety. Ms Baird began by telling us that 800 people were killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents last year in Leeds. Everyone was shocked to learn that Year 7 is the most likely time that boys and girls will have an accident and that using mobile phones whilst crossing the road is one of the biggest factors. Other problems can be listening to headphones whilst crossing the road and showing off to friends on their way to school.
As well as the possibility of serious injury or death, we learnt that there is a wider impact to lots of people if an accident occurs. Just one recent road accident cost £214,000. This was due to the hospital treatment, damage to cars and roads, accident investigators, insurance and disruption to services.
Ms Baird explained that when a number of accidents occur on a particular road, the road safety team will consider putting in traffic calming measures. The children were surprised to learn that a speed camera costs £55,000 to put in but a pair of speed bumps only costs £1,600. Ms Baird told children that speed bumps have been more effective in Leeds because drivers have to always slow down otherwise they will damage their cars.
The children asked who pays for all this and some were surprised to find that it was their parents and teachers through the tax they pay on their wages from their jobs!
For a practical demonstration, children were all asked to find their homes on a printed map of Wetherby. They then worked in groups to plan a route from home to a key place in Wetherby. The groups looked at where there were likely to be road traffic accidents involving speeding vehicles or pedestrians. Year 6 became road safety engineers with a £100,000 budget to spend on making the route safer. The children shared their ideas and gave reasons for their designs.
Good Touch, Bad Touch
The children completed a lesson on the subject of good touch and bad touch. The focus was to learn about appropriate and inappropriate ways that people might make physical contact with us. Year 6 were given lots of different scenario cards to discuss. The children gave feedback about how they would feel in the scenarios, including language such as comfortable, safe, uncomfortable, embarrassed, unhappy, unsafe and frightened. We discussed different ways we might deal with some of these scenarios; some of the ideas children gave were: asking permission, explaining to a younger child that they didn’t want to be touched, getting away immediately if a stranger was involved, or telling a trusted adult if something had made them feel uncomfortable.
The children also learnt about medical situations where they might feel uncomfortable, but the physical contact might be necessary. In these cases, children their age would usually have parents or carers present and be asked for consent to be touched by doctors, nurses and dentists. Children shared some of their experiences of this.
As well as these, the children discussed lots of positive scenarios and talked in a mature way about times when they have enjoyed having hugs from parents, relatives and friends and how this can be great for their wellbeing and provide comfort.
Inspiring You Week
Y6 enjoyed the start of our ‘Inspiring You’ work which is intended to help the children have high aspirations for themselves either through setting new goals, considering future career options, or perhaps try something, etc. Y6 children loved trying to guess what jobs the adults in Y6 wanted when they were young, and were surprised to hear of how career paths changed for many different reasons. They then shared their ambitions for their future careers. We talked about the importance of having back up plans and to try to link career paths to interests, for example, if you like animals, you could be work in a veterinary practice, not necessarily having to take on the role of being a vet, or you could work in animal rescue, dog training, police dog handler, mounted police, zoos, etc.
Later in the week, they had an inspiring dance workshop delivered by Kayleigh who aspires to be a dancer and is on track to achieve her goals through hard work, commitment and determination. For those children with some dance background, it was a chance to apply what they know and learn from an older peer, but for any children with no dance background, it was time to try something new!
We will keep revisiting the idea of ‘inspiring you’ throughout the year with new opportunities that come our way.
We have made a great start to our French learning this half term by learning to talk about many different places in the world in French, The children were surprised at how many countries have similar names in French and English and some children have learnt the names of up to 25 countries in Europe and beyond. We also took part in a fun burn to learn where the children had to match the names of French countries to the continents on which they were located. This helped to keep our Georgraphy skills bubbling too!
We have gone on to ask questions about where in the world people live and say where different people are from using our country vocabulary. Here’s a video to give you a taste of what we have been learning,