Spring Term 1 2022
Welcome back and happy new year to you all. I hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas break and you’re ready to dive back into the spring term with lots of energy. We are going to have lots of fun and learn loads too, so get ready and brace yourself for a super busy and exciting half term!
The theme for this half term will continue with War and Justice due to the great interest taken in it last half term by the children; we still have lots of things to learn about in this area so it will be great to continue it for a little longer. We are also learning lots about different cultures so watch out in each subject section to see what we learn.
To find out more about what’s happening in Year 6 this half term, please read the curriculum newsletter and keep checking out this page which will be updated regularly. Let’s get started…
In RE this week, our focus has been on the Epiphany. The children were not at school this time last year to learn about Epiphany so they were a little rusty but they soon picked it up by reading some given texts about the basics. They used their reading comprehension skills to answer some questions and this gave them a good basic starting point.
As we are also learning about other cultures this half term, Year 6 then spent time researching how other cultures and other countries around the world celebrate the Epiphany. This was really interesting and the children worked either in pairs on on their own; the choice was theirs!
At the end of the lesson, the children had to say which cultures traditions they preferred compare to their own and give reasons why. France and Spain were big winners mostly due to the sweet treats and public holidays they get. Mrs Harrison who is our FS2 teacher, her parents live in Spain so she was able to get photographs directly from her parents that day celebrating Epiphany which really reminded us of how different cultures would be celebrating right at the same time as we were researching about them! Here are the picture she shared with us from Spain.
After the research, we decided to take inspiration from other cultures and have some chocolate cake in the shape of a circle to represent the Wise Men’s crowns. We also had some juice to make the day feel a bit special! We ended our lesson with prayers:
Father God, the star that led the Magi to the stable announced to the world that its Saviour was born. Today we live in a world that is still covered by darkness, and still needing to make that journey to the stable door. May our lives reflect your light day by day, as we seek to serve where you have placed us. That we might be the means through which others can encounter Jesus Christ. Amen.
Last half term we learnt about Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero as significant individuals who felt called by God to stand up to injustice. To build on this, we have been learning about a female inspirational Christian with many similarities and some differences. Her name is Dorothy Day. Here is a short video to watch again at home with your family so that it can stimulate discussion and reflection.
The children also enjoyed a physically active challenge where they had to find hidden clues about the Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero and then present it using their maths skills. Their Venn diagrams reflected the similarities and differences. They then had an extra maths challenge as they then had another group added to the Venn diagram which increased the intersections and they included their own facts about Dorothy Day into the Venn diagram. It got very complicated but was a great way to compare these Christians and deepen the children’s knowledge.
We have already got off to a great start in English this week as the children learn about an inspirational person from the past called Walter Tull. They were given an image and asked questions about the image. Then they went outside for some Burn2Learn and found information about him around the school grounds. They had to work with a parent to find different ways to remember the information. Some of the children used strategies from our word aware approach in school so they would sing the information, clap out syllables in key words, make connections thinking about emotions, words that sound similar, rhyming, etc. What ever they did, it seemed to work as all children were able to recall some information about Walter. We will be using this in history and as part of our culture learning over the next few weeks as well but watch out for more writing opportunities linked to this person coming soon!
Today we have spent time watching a very moving Sainsbury’s Advert from 2014 which was filmed to commemorate 100 since the start of WW1. The story is a powerful stimulus for us to use for writing over the next few weeks and it will also deepen their historical understanding of elements of WW1 too.
Year 6 have been polishing up on their use of apostrophes which were a little rusty on entry to Y6 but are now looking pretty accurate! They have also been working hard on ensuring they use varying their sentence openers to avoid using lots of pronouns/nouns and articles which can be repetitive. Instead, they have been using verbs, adverbs and conjunctions as the first word of a sentence which then results in a complex sentence. The children need to use commas in these sentences as the subordination at the start of sentences. This is all coming together nicely as their writing is progressing well.
Here is a really helpful video below that you can watch at home to help your child with how to vary sentence starters.
Year 6 have completed lots of cross curricular writing this half term. Their final piece has been linked to history. They wrote diaries as a women from the Land Army. The application of writing skills was to a very high standard and the children all showed the progress they have made with the skills learnt so far since September, as well as including lots of historical content to showcase their understanding in history too. Well done Y6. You’re making super progress!
Year 6 have been immersed in reading opportunities already this half term. Our reading area has had a little face lift with the children making the decisions about it and handling the budget. They used money they raised from their Starbooks Cafe fundraiser last half term to buy some new items for the reading area. They now have a canopy and some bean bags to make it a bit more inviting. We have also bought some new dyslexia friendly books which anyone can read but the pages are a creamy colour and the lines are more spaced out to help any children in the class who may have visual stress. We also now have some fantastic Aquila magazines kindly donated by a parent which have been a great hit!
Year 6 have been enjoying reading some new science books linked to their topic of light. These are in the classroom and the children get time to read these to deepen their knowledge of the topic.
Year 6 have also been reading extracts from a story called The Birds of Flanders Field which links to our history topic. This book is written from the birds’ perspective. The birds live in Flanders field and wonder why the humans are fighting and why they all look so miserable. In the story, the birds sing to try to cheer the soldiers up. This book (Twinkl ebook), has some lovely language in to challenge the children’s own writing styles as well as provide super discussions about authorial intent.
Year 6 are continuing to read War Horse as a class in guided reading. Each chapter allows great opportunities to develop their reading skills like predicting, inference, summarising, making notes and deepened vocabulary understanding. Year 6 have just finished chapter 5 and have now a huge list of new vocabulary which they are going to learn about. You can listen to Chapter 5 by using the link below.
Climate Change Author Online Workshop
We were lucky enough to take part in a live online workshop with author Georgina Stevens. Georgina has written a book aimed at primary aged children called Climate Action, which explains what climate change means and what we can do to help in a simple and powerful way. Year 6 looked at Georgina’s book carefully before the workshop. We investigated the causes and effects of climate change and came up with questions for further research.
Georgina started the session by talking about how she became inspired to work with nature after seeing the effects of pesticides on her parents’ farm. She asked children to close their eyes and picture all the things they loved about nature and the smells and sounds they could imagine. Our class decided their favourite natural phenomenon was a waterfall.
Lots of images of the book were used to explain the difference between climate change and weather; climate change refers to the long term weather patterns and extreme weather events caused by the world heating up. The children agreed that the author used easy-to-understand concepts and everyone found her jokes about cows’ windy bottoms very funny.
Georgina gave the children lots of ideas of how they could make a difference by Living Simply: eating food grown sustainably and locally, saving energy and water at home, buying second hand games and clothes from charity shops and using bikes and scooters more often.
There was a question and answer session at the end where the author talked about her inspiration and the process of writing the book. After the workshop, the children drew pictures of everything they love about the natural world and the changes we can make to protect it for the future. There was some thought-provoking work.
Year 6 have been busy this half term already working on their methods for division. They have been looking at whether they can perform the method mentally or whether a written method is needed. When a written method is needed, they have practised this and how to turn remainders into a fraction or a decimal. Year 6 have also been using their reasoning skills to predict if a division would have a remainder of not.
Now they are busy having lots of practise using this method with word problems which sometimes might require rounding up or down, depending on the questions. For a quick reminder at home about this method, here is a quick guided below for you to watch:
If you need a reminder about how to do short division with remainders, watch this video below:
If you need a reminder about how to use short division with remainders written as a decimal, watch this:
Year 6 started their next maths topic of fractions with a silent challenge. Each child has a sticker which had a number or a fraction of a number written on it. They were not given any explanation about what to do other than to find their triplets without talking. They wandered around comparing stickers, trying to make connections as to who they might match with. With a little bit of modelling they started to understand and finished the silent challenge in groups of 3. Year 6 were then asked what they thought the learning objective was going to be for the next few days and it was to find fractions of amounts.
Back in the classroom, it was time to start banging some rhythms on the desks. We Will Rock You rhythm is a great way to make a sensory connection to the rules for finding fractions of amounts. I chant and drum, “how do you find a quarter’ and they chant and drum back, “Divide by 4.” The children all know Queen’s clapping rhythm for this so it works a treat. Whenever I chant this to them now, they reply with the answer which is the method to find fractions, unit and non-unit fractions.
Year 6 enjoyed applying the skill of finding fractions of amounts by making a Top Trumps Card game. Before they could play the game, the children had to practise finding all the fractions of amounts so that each character card had numbers to win the games.
They have saved these games to play during wet playtimes in future. They really enjoyed this!
Y6 have also been revisiting how to convert improper to mixed numbers and vice versa. They remembered this really quickly so we were able to move onto adding and subtracting fractions with different denominators which requires them to use knowledge of multiples and factors to find common denominators. I’ve been really impressed with how they have picked this up, and we’ll keep these skills bubbling with our early work on a morning. If your child needs any help with this at home, here is a useful video to remind them of how to do it.
During a Tuesday maths lesson, the children in Year 6 used skittles sweets to investigate different ways of interpreting data. Groups of children sorted their sweets and decided what data about them they could represent. The class as a whole decided to show how many sweets there were of each different colour in their packets of skittles. Year 6 used their knowledge of fractions and percentages to calculate data sets in these different ways. We then discussed the range of methods we knew for representing the data, such as bar charts, tallies, frequency tables and pictograms.
To introduce the concept of pie charts, we used circle templates to sort the skittles into a visual pie chart. The children carefully drew lines from the middle of their ‘skittle pies’ to leave them with a pie chart representing the data they had gathered.
This half term, Year 6 will be studying the topic of Light in Science lessons. This will include learning about shadows, reflection and refraction. We will also be looking at how the human eye works to help us to see and of course, conducting lots of experiments to improve our investigatory skills.
We started the topic by trying to prove two hypotheses with equipment in the classroom. The first hypothesis that children wanted to prove was that shadows are created when an object blocks the path of light. The second hypothesis was that light travels in straight lines.
The children worked hard to set up their own investigations and then discussed how they had proved the two statements to be correct. We also got to grips with the terms opaque, translucent and transparent. We were surprised to find that many objects we predicted would be opaque, were actually translucent. Some of the objects that we thought would be transparent actually blocked a small portion of light and created faint shadows too.
This was a great start to our Science learning journey.
We waited for a sunny afternoon to go out into the school grounds in order to investigate shadows. The children carefully observed where the shadows were formed. We worked in groups to observe our own shadows and those of objects naturally occurring in the playground. After having some fun guessing the different animal shadows we could make on the school wall, we discussed how the shadows might look different at certain times of the day and why we couldn’t change the direction of the shadows. This task really made the children consider the sun as a light source and how we create shadows by blocking the path of the sun’s rays.
To finish our topic on Light, Year 6 conducted two experiments in order to show how white light can be split into a rainbow or colour spectrum. We used our knowledge of how light travels and reflects off surfaces to reach our eyes to help us understand the concept of seeing colour. We also learnt about the rods and cones on the retina in our eyes, which help us to see colour. Children worked in pairs to make a ray of light from a source like a torch split into the colours of the visible spectrum. We needed to use a curved shiny surface to do this. We also used the surface of water to help us to make rainbows in a different way.
The children then explored seeing colour. We see an object as red because it absorbs all the other colours in the light rays. We went on to conduct an opposite version of our first experiment by making some Newton discs. When we spun these colourful wheels fast, we could see that the seven parts of the visible spectrum blend back into white.
Year 6 have planned their documentaries using their writing planning skills. They understand that their documentaries will need a beginning, middle and end so it made sense for them to use a non-chorological report style of planning which they are very familiar with from English lessons.
They watched a short video tutorial which helped them to understand how to make a short documentary and we made notes about the different features to include to appeal to the audience.
Safer Internet Day
Year 6 marked Safer Internet Day with a lesson on theme of ‘All Fun and Games Online’.
Firstly, the children took part in a Burn 2 Learn, in order to find a series of letters. We unscrambled the letters to spell the word Internet.
Children estimated how many people in the world use the internet each day – the answer was an astounding 4.66 billion!
Post-its were used to collect the children’s ideas of what they and their families would miss if the internet was turned off. The most popular answer was online gaming. We worked out that 75% of class had played games online against people they did not know personally.
The children came up with lots of ideas about how to stay safe online and some of the class shared experiences of times when they had used the STOP, BLOCK, TELL message at home.
We used the words SAFER INTERNET to create acrostics showing what we had learnt about using the internet safely.
Year 6 are really enjoying the topic of WW1 and loved today’s practical arts workshop which was lead by Zoe Phillips of Deckle and Hide and former Head of Armoury at the Royal Opera House.
Zoe was also very excited to be running this workshop for Year 6 and the children certainly enjoyed the experience. In the workshop, the children had a practical hands on project, working with leather and up-cycled materials which fits with our Live Simply mission. They made leather map bags which a soldier would have used in WW1 to keep their maps protected from dirt. Without maps, the soldiers would have been in big trouble, even danger, so the leather bags were an important part of a soldiers kit. Zoe went to great lengths to research and make a prototype so that the map bag closely resembled the real thing!
The DT skills which the children have developed to be able to achieve this task included using a template, seam allowance, careful cutting, folding, gluing, strengthening and following instructions to name only a few. As they worked, the children had to problem solve to progress with the task. Also leather is a material they have never worked with before so cutting through it felt very different to cutting paper. Zoe taught the children a good technique of slightly tilting the scissors on an angle and using the very inside of the blades rather than the tips of the scissors. This made an instant change. Some of the children also realised that adding a bit of tension to the leather helped with the cutting too. The children also got the chance to use some real tools which fascinated them; this included a rotary punch, rivet setting tools and a rawhide mallet.
During the workshop, it was incredible to hear so much maths vocabulary also being used so we decided to capture all the mathematical concepts being applied, The children went to the large flip chart and noted down a mathematical word as they used it. If they got there and found someone had already noted it, they ticked it to show that they had also used that word.
When the map bags had been completed, the children made maps on old fashioned looking paper to include inside the map bags; this really finished off the overall look of the finished item. Year 6 loved this workshop and are very proud of what they achieved.
Photos of the final projects to follow…
This half term, we have continued our work leading up to write more detailed sentences in French, including nouns and matching adjectives to their masculine, feminine and plural forms when writing descriptions. We have been using clothing as a stimulus. Our work began with a great Burn2Learn activity. The children raced outside to find a pictures of celebrities somewhere in the playground outside. They had to form a mental picture of what the person was wearing and then come in to work with the resources in their French books to write down what items of clothing the people shown were wearing and the colours. Although the activity was fast paced, there were extra points on offer for making sure that the adjectival colour words, which have masculine and feminine versions in French, agreed with the gender of the nouns that they were linked to. This concept of masculine and feminine nouns is challenging so we are making sure that the children get lots of practise and feel confident about having a go and expressing themselves in French.
Year 6 are continuing the topic of War & Justice this half term as they were so interested last half term. We have started Spring 1 by learning about an inspirational person from the past who achieved great things during WW1.
To read more about this, you can go to the English section where you will find details of how the children were introduced to Walter Tull. To learn more about this at home to support your child, you could watch these short videos.
Walter Tull experienced terrible racism during his life and we have been learning more about this in PSHE. Please look at our PSHE section for more information.
Year 6 have also learnt how to form a testable hypothesis and how good historians would use sources of evidence to prove or disprove their hypothesis. They worked in pairs to form their hypothesis about what the food was like for soldiers like Walter Tull during WW1 using what they currently understood. Then they had to research using at least 3 different sources of information to prove/disprove it.
We also considered what the word ‘reliable’ means and how we need to consider carefully how reliable a source of information is.
We were able to address some misconceptions about soldiers’ food during this lesson as many of the children thought that they would have had very little food and it would have been disgusting. Watch this great clip at home with your child which was the starting point for some of our research this week.
The children have written at length to show their historical understanding. They wrote a letter as Jim, a WW1 soldier The task was to ensure that they showed deep understanding of the experiences of the men during that period in time. See English section for more details of this and the fantastic Sainsburys advert from 2014 which retold the story of football between enemies on Christmas Day. Year 6 loved acting this out first before writing about it!
We’ve also been learning about the experiences of women during this period in history. Y6 enjoyed learning about the Women’s Land Army and how attitudes towards women changed during this period.
You can learn some of the basics about this at home by watching the links below:
Year 6 also learnt about propaganda and how the purpose of these posters was to mislead and/or persuade. They looked at some WW1 and WW2 posters and unpicked the messages in the posters. They then designed their own poster to mislead the enemy.
They looked at a range of posters about the Women’s Land Army too and reflected on whether the posters reflected a positive or negative image of the role of women at that period in time.
Year 6 got off to an enthusiastic start with music this term with an introduction to Garageband which is a fully equipped music creation studio with an incredible selection of instruments to choose from. Year 6 started with acoustic and electric guitar playing a range of sea shanties and rock songs. They learnt how to change settings to get the chords they needed and to play in time keeping the tempo consistent.
We began the Spring term by finishing our Dance topic linked to the WW1 theme. During the topic, the children have had the opportunity to dance to a variety of different styles and tempos of music. We have used marching songs from the era, such as ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’, along with lindy-hop and jazz music that people used to relax and dance to in peacetime. To evoke the drama of wartime, we used pieces by Beethoven and Vivaldi. The children have been encouraged to listen to the rhythms of the music and choreograph their dances in time to the beats. We have practised with simple marching beats, repeating movements in sequences of 8 beats. The children found the waltz peacetime music in 3/3 time more challenging to dance to.
At the end of our dance topic, the children had to work hard to remember all the different sections of the dance story and the steps they had choreographed for each part. The final section of our dance allowed children to work in groups of four and dance slowly from their starting positions into a dance representation of a cross for remembrance of those killed and injured during wars. The children did this very effectively and worked these routines into a segment of bugle music ‘The Last Post’.
Also in PE this half term, Y6 have been following the Spiral PE curriculum, with this half term’s focus on the transferable skills between cricket, rounders and tennis. They continued to develop their striking skills aiming to have more control over where the ball flies. This allowed them to use a range of shots against their opponent in tennis as well as finding the space in between fielders to give the best chance at scoring runs when batting in rounders, cricket and scatterball.
Year 6 also looked at transferable power and speed, trying to combine both with good technique to improve fielding skills such as catching, turning and throwing back to wicket. We took the opportunity to further explore the rules of cricket and play matches allowing the children to take on the different roles with more understanding of the tactics of those positions. They have worked hard this half term to develop on learning from previous weeks and years to create depth in their understanding of these skills.
Year 6 were delighted to have Bikeability! They had a fantastic 2 day course and progressed their cycling skills whilst also improving their knowledge of road dangers and personal safety. Their confidence and independence soared too so well done Y6 and thank you to Cycle North for providing this.
Unfortunately, due to the storms, the last part of the course was unable to go ahead, but we will soon have a new date in the diary so that the children can complete all the course and be as confident on their bikes and safe as possible.
Mental Health Week
Mental health is something we are very passionate about at St Joseph’s and National Children’s Mental Health Week is a great week to enhance all the good things we do on a daily basis to support healthy mental health. We started the week by exploring the term ‘mental health’ to ensure that all children understood the term and what it meant to them.
I asked the children to rate their overall understanding of mental health from 1-10 (10 being a very good understanding and 1 being not sure at all) which included the following:
- what the term mental health means
- if you can see mental health
- the difference between good mental health and poor mental health
- what factors can affect mental health
- ways to look after/support their own mental health
Throughout the week, we did short bursts of activities to boost our mental health which included extra pockets of exercise, time to read quietly, trying a new activity, and allowing time just to catch up with friends and chat about our feelings.
This half term, Y6 are learning lots about different cultures. This is interwoven across the curriculum subjects but you’ll also be able to see some of the things we’ve learnt below too.
Year 6 have been looking at what racism is and made links to what they have learnt in RE about Martin Luther King, and in History where they have started learning about Walter Tull who both suffered as a result of racism but both triumphed in making great achievements despite racism. They looked at different scenarios where racism was present and how they could stand up for justice if those situations ever arose in their lives. They looked at where they have seen or heard about racism and the two that stood out for most of the class were linked to football clubs and to George Floyd. We will be moving on shortly to look at debating about what football clubs could do to tackle the issue of racism towards players, and I know the children will have lots of good ideas to contribute to this.
Year 6 started this half term looking at what the word ‘consent‘ means. Some children had not heard of it but others said it meant agreeing, giving permission or saying yes to something.
We discussed what sort of things we might need consent for and the children were able to comment on parents giving consent for them to attend a school club, school trip or taking photographs to use on the school website. With this in mind, we moved onto photographs they have taken; many of the children now have mobile phones, so we discussed how do you know you have consent to have those photographs on your phones and who these could or could NOT be shared with.
We then moved onto learning about personal and intimate space. What does that roughly look like and who would have consent to be in your personal/intimate space. We thought about how to act appropriately in each other’s personal space, which we measured as the space from your shoulder to your finger tips, as the classroom is very small and we sit very close together. We talked further about intimate space and who in their lives in most likely to be as close as this – we used the length of your elbow as a way of measuring this. We agreed that this is a space where very few people should be but it would likely be parents, grandparents or very special friends. What sort of reasons would someone be in your intimate space were then discussed and this included kissing hello/goodbye, cuddles or holding hands. Year 6 discussed if it’s okay to tell a friend or a family member that you don’t want close kisses and cuddles and they now understand that they can say no if they are not comfortable with this.
Year 6 agreed that we will always be careful when they are in close proximity with each other’s personal and intimate space and that we are clear that consent can always be withdrawn.
Here is a really handy children friendly video you can watch at home with your child to help them understand this important message. We will be revisiting this video in school as we learn more about this.
Remember, Childline is open 24 hours a day, every single day of the year if you ever need to talk to someone and there is no trusted adult around that you feel you can turn to.
As part of our lessons about British Values, we decided to look in depth at what liberty means and the kinds of individual liberties we have as children. The lesson started with a fake announcement of some new school rules: teachers would decide who our friends should be, talking about football would be banned and it would be against the rules to smile. The children were asked to try to persuade the teachers that these rules should not be put in place. The children used strong persuasive language and then went on to discuss which aspects of their lives were personal choices and liberties and which aspects they were not allowed to make a choice about.
Year 6 really showed that they are switched-on and compassionate global citizens as they were able to compare their individual liberties with the lives of children in other countries such as Afghanistan. We also made links to our prior History learning to understand that some children did not enjoy the same liberty as them in the past.
The children ordered sets of cards with different individual freedoms on them and discussed which they felt were most important and least important to them. At the end of the lesson, we all had a new appreciation of how precious our freedom to make choices about our hobbies, friends and opinions really is.
Democracy and the Rule of Law
Respect and Tolerance
Year 6 learnt about Respect and Tolerance in their PHSE session. We started by listening to Aretha Franklin’s song RESPECT. The lyrics ask us to ‘find out what it means’, so the song got the children thinking. The children were given some scenarios to discuss in groups and offered their opinions on how to behave respectfully and disrespectfully and how to show tolerance towards those we may not agree with. We came up with these ideas about the meaning of respect:
Using good manners
Treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves
Listening to others
Understanding that other people are entitled to have different interests, beliefs and opinions
Following school rules
We finished by spelling out the powerful word RESPECT, the way Aretha Franklin does in the song. Year 6 decided they would form group to make each letter of the word.