Autumn Term 2
Welcome back. 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 fun.
The children have enjoyed leading more class collective worship this half term. Each week of Advent has focused on a different theme: hope, preparation (waiting and prophecy), joy and peace, and love/adoration. They particularly enjoy dressing the worship table themselves and explaining their choice of artefact for the table. For example, they have been choosing purple cloths to represent this period of preparation.They have also chosen to focus on Mary during Advent as she was chosen to be the mother of God. One week, Joseph became the focus as he was also chosen and trusted to look after Mary and guide and protect Jesus. The final week of school for this half term, Joseph and Mary with an empty manger was chosen by the children. Our worship is such a special time; the dim lights with candles around the empty manger were a powerful focal point for us to quiet our hearts during this hectic time so that we can come to God with a sincere and open heart.
During every worship, we listened to God’s word and reflected on how we can prepare ourselves during Advent. We made Advent promises and placed these on our class tree as a daily reminder to do our best. We have also been reminding ourselves of the significance of the Advent wreath.
We have also learnt a new song for our worship which is very beautiful. We put the music on and it’s a sign to the children to gather around the prayer table quietly as the prayer leaders dress the table; the children start to join in singing when they are ready and we get a natural crescendo which is gorgeous. Listen to our new song below:
RE Trip: Big Sing Liturgy Thing
Year 6 went to Mount St Mary’s to take part in The Big Sing Liturgy Thing and what an amazing experience it was! The whole day was totally uplifting. The children learnt new songs, prayers, Makaton actions, dances and readings to combine together to worship alongside other children from primary schools in the Catholic Compass. The energy in the room was incredible and smiles were on their faces from start to finish. This was a truly moving and inspiring experience which we will never forget! Our thanks go to Mount St Mary’s and all those involved in organising this very special event. The Big Sing is an event which I look forward to all year – we can’t wait for the next one!
In RE we are continuing our topic Called to Serve in the Kingdom of God and will be focusing on justice this half term up to Christmas. Year 6 have been thinking about what it means to be a disciple and how we might imitate people around us who we admire; Jesus is the perfect example of who to follow by example. They have also been learning about the different types of miracles that Jesus performed and what these reveal about God’s kingdom. The children used the Bible to find the miracles and read about them. As they were reading, they had to decide if the miracle showed God’s power over nature, disease or death. They sorted the miracles into the 3 different categories using a table. They then started to look at how people reacted to the miracles and why that might be the case.
Year 6 have also been learning all about inspirational Christians who have fought for justice inspired by their faith and beliefs. We thought about what the word ‘justice’ means and how we are called to stand up for justice. To launch this area of learning, we learnt about a Oscar Romero who has recently been proclaimed a Saint! We learnt about his life as a child, his dreams to be a priest and how he had to postpone that dream to work and raise money to care for his sick mother. We learnt about how his beliefs and values called him to stand up to the injustice in El Salvador and how he died for his beliefs. The children were fascinated by his story which is summarised in a really child-friendly and powerfully moving animation on the CAFOD website.
The children took part in a hot seating exercise where I stepped into a pair of shoes and became Oscar Romero. The children asked me incredibly challenging and thought provoking questions. Volunteer pupils then had a go at stepping into his shoes and answering the questions themselves. It was an incredible lesson and all the staff were totally blown away by the depth of consideration given to the questions and the children’s ability to answer them whilst making links to his beliefs, values and often references from the Bible.
The children then learnt about Martin Luther King and started to compare how his faith and beliefs inspired him to fight for justice. The children collated a huge amount of vocabulary watching the animation below while learning about Martin Luther King’s life. We then spent time discussing the vocabulary, much of which was challenging, for example, oppression, censorship, atrocities, assassination, etc.
We finished our RE lesson with a prayer for justice around the world and guidance from God to put our faith into action to play our part in making the world a fair and just place to live for everyone.
Year 6 really enjoyed a Burn2Lesson lesson in RE this week. 19 clues were hidden outside around the school grounds and the children worked in pairs to find all the clues and bring them back to class for a sorting activity using Venn diagrams.
Once they had found all the clues they had to look for similarities and differences between the two inspiring Christians and sort their clues into the appropriate section of the Venn diagram. It was great to listen to the children’s discussions at this stage which showed how much they had learnt in previous lessons as they compared and contrasted orally.
Once this was completed, they researched a female Christian who was called to serve God and looked for similarities and differences between her, Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King. They wrote facts on post it notes about Dorothy Day and started to add this to their existing information in the Venn diagram. This meant that their Venn diagram needed an extra hoop and had lots more intersections to consider carefully. The children were challenged to ensure that every section of the Venn diagram included information unique to that section.
We’ve been learning about square numbers, cube numbers and roots in maths this week. This is has been lots of fun as our lessons have included singing, actions, games and competitions. The children have particularly enjoyed a Burn2learn game involving hoops and lots of bouncing!
While learning about square numbers, the children have also been revisiting Venn diagrams.
Year 6 have also been revisiting how to change mixed numbers in improper fractions and vice versa. They enjoyed a domino game with a partner which helped them to practise this skill. The children have also polished up on their ability to be able to multiply and divide any number by 10, 100 and 1000. Singing the ‘Jump’ song and using the large place value chart at the front of the classroom really helped the children to visualise the digits moving to the next place value. They also enjoyed a tile task as a way to show their understanding of this. Once completed, a partner checked their answers.
The children have also been learning to find factors of numbers. They have a method which we call ‘drawing the curtains’ which helps them to work methodically to find all the factors. Once the children could find factors, they were able to find common factors. The children have also learnt about prime numbers as these are numbers with only 2 factors.
The children enjoyed a Burn2Learn game involving square and prime number recognition at speed. As usual, the class were keen to get active and learn at the same time.
We will shortly be starting to read War Horse so, to prepare for this, the Year 6 children made a glossary of words related to all things equestrian. This included vocabulary like canter, gallop, bridle, stirrups, colt, filly, skittish, jib, bareback, saddle, dismount, etc. Getting to know these words before we read will help us to understand the story and definitely improve our writing skills too as we will incorporate this language into different text types when we write.
Year 6 have been polishing up on their skills at punctuating sentences with subordinate clauses or phrases in. To get the lesson started, the children completed a Burn2Learn activity which was really active whilst also supporting learning. This game gave the children the chance to practise the skill in an active way on whiteboards as a team as well as keeping them active which they really enjoy.
Year 6 have this week been looking at different sets of instructions looking for common features and those features that also differ. They discussed the different structural features like subheadings, bullet points, number points, photos and captions, and discussed how useful they found them in terms of supporting their understanding of the instructions. We then made a list of top tops as a class to guide us through writing our own instructions in future.
The children then planned their own set of instructions to inform Captain Nichols how to look after Joey the War Horse. Planning is meant to be a guide only and notes are perfectly appropriate. The way the children planned was up to them; many chose to use post its as they like to be able to peel them off and use them as they write and then stick them back on their plan once finished. This method is really effective for children with dyslexia too but we find it’s a popular choice by many children.
The quality of the instructions was excellent and the children self assessed at the end of the task to ensure they had included all the top tips.
Year 6 have also been using their writing skills across the curriculum, for example, in history they have been inferring using photographs and included some very detailed answers organised well into paragraphs. In science, they have written a non-chronological report about the dangers of electricity, and in DT the children have been evaluating different Christmas decorations, writing in detailed paragraphs. In RE, the children practised the skill of taking notes when we learnt about Martin Luther King. Lots of cross curricular opportunities to write, write and write again!
The books in class this half term have changed to match our current topics across the curriculum. The children can choose from a superb selection of good quality books provided by the School Library Service. This half term, they can read fiction and non-fiction books about WW1 to deepen their knowledge and understanding in history, and non-fiction books about electricity to support further science learning.
The children are also enjoying doing some book recommends. At the moment, The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day by Christoper Edge is causing quite a stir. We have 2 copies in class and the children are loving it so much that some children are managing to read it within 2 days as they can’t put it down! The children who have read it are doing a great job of not releasing spoilers! This book was nominated for a Leeds Book Award last year and is certainly number 1 in our classroom at the moment!
Year 6 have enjoyed bringing in photos of them reading at home with their parents. They were challenged with choosing a book by an author they have not heard of or read before. They then were given free choice about how to present information about that author, and to get their parent reading the same book alongside them. Thank you to the parents for getting on board with this. It’s great to see the children talking about other authors and sharing opinions and recommended reads.
Year 6 are loving reading War Horse as a whole class guided reading text. They love it so much that they don’t want guided reading lessons to end which is fantastic to see. The book is a heartfelt story of incredible loyalty, hope and tenacity set in World War 1 which separates Joey, the horse, and Albert, a young teenager who becomes a soldier in the war. We are using this text in writing lessons as a stimulus to practise writing skills and to write for purpose. As we read, we keep discussing vocabulary and our Worthy Word Wall is bulging with superb vocabulary which the children have learnt. The children are then challenged to include some of these words in their own writing. Year 6 are always up for a challenge!
Reading Around Subjects
Year 6 have really enjoyed having free time to choose a book from a current topic and reading about that subject. As they read, they write down 3 new things that they have learnt about that subject. They also make a list of new vocabulary which they encounter as they read. The children need to ensure that they understand the meaning of the words and can write them in a sentence they compose to put it into context. If the children choose to read about science in a session, they are encouraged to then read about a different topic in the next session, for example, WW1. This is a great way to enjoy reading some super non-fiction books, learn new vocabulary and deepen our understanding of current topics.
Investigation linked to History
Year 6 have really enjoyed science week. We have worked on our investigation skills building on the success with this last last half term. The children investigated how the size of an object being dropped would impact on the size of the crater created by it. We linked this to our theme of WW1 which really excited the children as you will be able to see from the photographs below. The children planned the investigation, gathered the equipment and then conducted the experiment measuring and recording very carefully the results so that they could be interpreted looking for patterns, etc. Just for a bit of fun, the children used toy soldiers in their experiment. We didn’t want to to interfere with the results so we kept them out of the way of the actual space where the ‘bombs’ were being dropped until the end, but it made the context of the science a little more real for the children. I was really impressed throughout the experiment to hear the children reasoning and problem solving to ensure that all the conditions were correct so that this would be a fair test. They also came up with some good follow up questions, for example, would the depth of the sand have an impact as we ensured our sand was 2 cm deep but would the crater be larger if the sand was deeper? Year 6 would now like to keep the equipment (including toy soldiers) in class just for fun!
Also, as part of the school science week celebration, Year 5 and Year 3 held a fantastic Science Fair . Year 6 enjoyed exploring all the projects in both classrooms. There was such a range of stalls including electricity tasks, dissolving, reactions to make lava for a volcano, lava lamps, exploring senses including sense of smell and sense of touch and much more! Year 6 came back from the science fair chatting about the different tasks they took part in and some were already planning replicating these at home as they enjoyed it so much. Check out the pictures below to see some of the projects that Year 6 saw during the science fair. Thank you Y5 and Y3 for working hard to provide a superb experience to further enhance interest in science – we loved it!
Year 6 have also been really excited about exploring building circuits using different components.They worked with their partners and then problem solved to make the circuits work. The children then drew their circuits and learnt the importance of using standard symbols so that everyone could understand the circuits. They have learnt about how a complete circuit is needed and can look at diagrams to say if a circuit is complete or not.
Sandbeck Veterinary Centre: Inspiring You
As part of our Inspiring You week, Helen from Sandbeck Veterinary Centre came to visit Year 6 to talk about the life of a vet and the whole team who work around her to provide the highest standards of care for all animals great and small; this included veterinary nurses, cleaners and receptionists. The children asked her some fantastic questions about her job which Helen enjoyed answering. She said her favourite patient she had helped was a spider and showed us a clip of the spider who needed antibiotics!
Helen also helped the children to think about working animals’ health and welfare and the many varied roles available as a job or lifestyle to support these animals. For example, we considered the role of a working dog for the police force and thought about what they needed to be able to do to complete their jobs well; then we considered who would be involved in the dogs’ lives to get them to a stage of being a police dog and for looking after them out of work hours. We repeated this with a wide variety of animals like assistance dogs, pigeons, camels, sheep dogs, etc. Helen also told us a fantastic fact which was that she has treated one of the cats who played Mrs Norris in Harry Potter!
We already had several children in class interested in becoming vets but Helen has opened our minds to even more opportunities which are available that we had never considered before! Thanks to Helen for her time today. For more information about Sandbeck Veterinary Centre, please use the link below:
Year 6 really enjoyed their art lesson today which was to draw with more accuracy and add detail like reflection, shadows and movement. We looked at flowers and how each have different petals but how we can often over look this detail when drawing if not careful. We looked at how the flowers stand in different orientations: some wide open, some closing, some sideways, some forwards and some still in bud. We also looked at the width of the stems and how flowers don’t simply stand in a perfect line, but will grow more randomly. We then tried to draw poppies in different orientations paying attention to the petals you could see and the ones that were overlapping so that only parts are visible.
During the drawing process we discussed how artists will do different attempts to achieve the desire piece they are aiming for. You are unlikely to get the picture looking the way you want in your fist attempts so a growth mindset approach is vital. After their first draft, partners gave them feedback on the things that they thought looked good and the things they could try to improve on their second attempt. For many of the children, one skill to practise was an s stroke which should be fluid and smooth (not sketched). Practising this made drawing the stems easier on the second attempt. At the end of the lesson, the children then self-evaluated as it’s important to be able to give yourself feedback as well as others – sometimes it’s not easy saying things that you are proud of as you tend to focus on the things you wish you’d done better. It was lovely to see the children feeling proud of their work. One pupil said she felt it was her best work to date which was nice to hear as she had started off by saying she felt she wasn’t good at art. We can all achieve if we try!
The children have now moved onto their next project in art which gives the children the chance to work on their collage skills . They have been using different images all related to the Great War, tearing these into pieces and arranging them to collage the shape of a horse’s head. Some of the images being used included old newspapers, poppies, horses and soldiers. The children are now working on using water colours to create an interesting colour effect for the background. We looked at similar pieces by different artists to get an idea about what we were aiming to achieve, and discussed why we might choose to use watercolours rather than poster paint to create this effect – children enjoyed working with this paint. It took patience, imagination and creativity to try to merge the colours gradually and create something beyond a traditional blue sky. Once this has been combined with the collage, it should look great. Photos to follow soon!
Year 6 also enjoyed making Christmas cards; we kept the design simple but it looks very effective and the children enjoyed embellishing with sparkles. Inside the children wrote messages on inserts to try to make it look like a quality product. Christmas messages were written with love!
Using iMovie to Make a Documentary
Year 6 are really enjoying their computing lessons. They started by planning what the topic of their documentary would be and made sure they could narrow it down to be really specific. This was linked to the current topic of history so there were lots of really exciting ideas, for example the role of dogs and horses in WW1, the role of unusual animals like monkeys, elephants, pigeons and even slugs! Once they decided their title and key questions which needed answering in the documentary, they then looked at conducting some quality research. The children learnt to split screen at this stage which is a really useful tip as you are able to research and make notes without switching between apps. Once this was planned and completed, the children then searched for relevant images to link to the topic; the best images would be ones that supported the documentary, almost visually answering the questions they planned to cover. They saved the images to their photo albums to retrieve later.
At this point, it was time to open iMovie and familiarise themselves with the different sections of the main screen. The children then used the media browser to retrieve their images for the documentary and start to sequence them in a logical order. The children have learnt about transitions between the images to create a pleasing effect for the viewer and how to use Ken Burns effects to enhance the visuals of the documentary. They also learnt how to adjust the timings so that the images and sound worked together as one.
Year 6 have also been learning about how to film themselves and then import this onto their documentary using a green screen – they absolutely loved this as they have seen this kind of effect used in films and it makes your documentary look really professional. Some of the children experimented trying to make their own green screen while they waited to use the professional one – we found a green display in the classroom and a table that did the job with a couple of children holding it behind! Lots of children like the idea of aspiring to be involved in film making when they are older due to special effects they can create in the film industry using green screen. Their filming will need working on over the next few sessions as the children can feel really self conscious being filmed. We will now use DV prompter to script our words on an autocue like a TV presenter so that the children can polish the overall presentation maintaining good eye contact with the audience.
As well as learning to include images and videos, the children have learnt how to record sound and include this. It’s not easy recording your own voice and ensuring the quality of the sound is professional so this took several attempts. Another skill they learn to do was to include text like captions, titles and credits. We discussed where you would see these on TV on a daily basis, for example, on news reports when the reporters name tends to be displayed at the bottom of the screen.
Now that the children have learnt lots of the IT skills needed to make the documentary, they will work on improving and developing it further so that it looks really professional.
Design & Technology
The children have been practising cutting and folding with precision – that sounds really easy but it does actually need practise, and with the task they were set, it all relied on precision or the final result would have looked very different to what we were aiming for! The children have made some remembrance day wreaths which look really nice on our prayer table now. All the children will take theirs home to remind them of the soldiers who gave their lives for their country. We remember them this Sunday on Remembrance Day.
Year 6 have enjoyed developing their stitching techniques so that they can use a combination of stitches to join materials. They are currently experimenting with running stick, back stitch, cross stitch, blanket stitch and some others which give a really lovely visual effect on fabrics. They are also learning to embellish by attach decorations like sequins and bells. Before they started stitching, they planned their stitches on spotted paper to give them a guide to work towards. They are currently practising on binka and once they have mastered a range of stitches and securing the threads at the end, they will move onto joining material to make a Christmas stocking. It has been lovely working on this seeing growth mind-set at it’s best! I was particularly delighted when some children asked if they could take it home to continue working on it as they had enjoyed it so much. One boy asked if he could take it home immediately as he was keen to show his parents what he had achieved – he was so proud as he thought he wouldn’t be able to do it but actually did a great job!
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 practise on felt is therefore needed before we dive into making the actual Christmas decoration. We have lots to do as Christmas is fast approaching!
Year 6 have really been engaged in their current topic about WW1 so a practical arts workshop was lead by Zoe Phillips of Deckle and Hide and former Head of Armoury at the Royal Opera House.She was 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, 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.
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.
Life of a Maker: Inspiring You
As part of our Inspiring You week, we invited Zoe back to talk about the life a maker. Zoe was keen for the children to explore the life of a maker working behind the scenes in the theatre and the richness and vibrancy that a life in the arts can bring. The children explored career diversity and traditional craft skills. Zoe brought lots of replicas in which she made in her role as Head of Armoury at the Royal Opera House, and talked us through the process from start to finish. She showed us about the fine detail that was included in the items yet this detail is not likely to be seen from a distance by the audience. She explained how a maker’s pride and passion in craft skills drives makers to include the fine details. What was also evident to the children was that the research, plan, do and review approach we have to DT in school is exactly the same in real life for makers. Zoe also told us about her journey as a maker; she was always interested in making things as a child and learnt new skills in every single project she worked on. Zoe made links to our class learning pit and how growth mindset is a powerful part of being successful in her role; it was great for the children to hear how adults apply a growth mindset approach in life beyond the classroom as this will hopefully support them to have resilience and high aspirations for their futures.
As well as life as a maker, Zoe gave the children chance to talk about their own passions and interest and for them to consider if these would be relevant for a career in the theatre. Some of the children wanted to be vets, designers, hairdressers, etc. and all these careers have a place in the theatre. The children were surprised by the variety of roles beyond acting and dancing at the theatre so this was eye-opening for them. Zoe told the children about the back stage dressers, stage crew, costume designers, scenery designers and makers, cleaners, directors, lighting and sound managers, etc.
Year 6 really enjoyed holding, touching, wearing and smelling the items that Zoe has made and been used in the Royal Opera House.
We also watched several videos with Zoe which showed her working in her workshop, back stage areas where armoury is stored and several videos of performances that she was worked on. These really put the maker side of the job into context when you see the actual finished products on stage.
Year 6 watched the Mad Hatter dance off and Zoe explained how the two people are the same character yet very different in style of clothing and dance; she explained that this is due to individual interpretation of characters and that there is no right or wrong answers for this. You can have a ballet dancing, tap dancing Mad Hatter or a street dance Mad Hatter – it’s up to your creative ideas to bring the characters to life. After the workshop, the children designed their own Mad Hatter costumes; some pupils decided that the Mad Hatter could be a female too.
Year 6 watched the above trailer and saw some of the costumes and props which Zoe had crafted herself. Another interesting point in this trailer is the male dancer who is the caterpillar. He is now staring in Cats the new film due to be released any day. The children were really engaged and asked lots of questions during the session. They were really keen to watch their favourite video again and again. Check it out below – the children loved it!:
French: Notre Monde
This half term Year 6 are learning all about the world around them and started by learning the names of lots of different animals, both domestic and wild. We have been working really hard on improving our pronunciation of the words, phrases and even full sentences. The class have completed word searches to learn to spell the French words and cross words to practise translating English to French. The children translated full sentences written in French into English. They also enjoyed another game of the music dance mat but this time had to match the animal word in French to the animal’s picture. This is a fast and fun game and the children are able to see progress each time as the score improves round by round.
The children have also been learning about different climates around the world. They have been learning to say how hot it is in different countries, applying their knowledge of numbers from the last half term. They have also been learning to say how cold it is in different countries. Other new language was learnt about mountains, valleys and different animals in the differing habitats.
This half term, our topic is all about World War 1. Year 6 have started this by learning all about Armistice Day. They also completed some activities around word meaning and spellings associated words with Armistice day. They then made wreaths in DT and used these on the prayer table for our worship this week when we have been thinking about the importance of peace and how we can put our faith into action to help achieve this.
Moving on with our learning about World War 1, the children have been learning about why the war started. After this, they worked on their inference skills using only images from WW1. They had to look deeply at the picture to give details about what they could see, what this made then think and wonder. The level of detail that the children went into was excellent!
Year 6 have also really enjoyed making a film documentary using their developing knowledge about WW1. They were able to choose an area that they were particularly interested in, for example, the role of animals, trench warfare, etc.and put together a really professional looking documentary using their computing skills. See computing section for more details.
To support the children developing a deeper knowledge of this topic, they have had time to immerse themselves in some of the excellent non-fiction books. They have free choice and can simply choose a book that they like the look of about WW1. While they are reading, they note down any vocabulary which is new to them and we discuss this in class at the end. This vocabulary work is really beneficial to support their knowledge and understanding, as well as building their vocabulary skills to draw on when they are writing at a later date. As well as vocabulary work, the children write down 3 facts that they found interesting from the book and share these with each other. So many of the children were so keen to share what they had learnt at the end of the session which was excellent to see. I was particularly pleased with the enthusiasm of 2 boys who were fascinated by how the war started; they were so keen to share with the rest of the class that they are now planning to lead part of the next history lesson where they have decided to use role-play and get everyone involved. I look forward to sitting back and letting the children teach!
The children have also been using their mathematical skills to design their own trenches. To start this off, they learnt about the different ways to dig trenches (entrenching, sapping and tunnelling) and how the soldiers generally rotated through three stages of the front. They would spend time in the front line trenches, some time in the support trenches and some time resting. They also learnt about No Man’s Land and how it was often covered in barbed wire and mines. They also learnt about the conditions in the trenches. Using this knowledge and their maths skills, they designed trenches which they really enjoyed.
Mr Wilson – History Enthusiast
Today, as part of our Inspiring You week, we were really fortunate to have Mr Wilson, a military history enthusiast, to visit Y6 to tell the most remarkable story behind a genuine WW1 officers uniform which he brought in for us to see and learn about. The uniform belonged to Lieutenant Colonel Bury Vandeleur.
We learnt about his journey through WW1. We saw real photos of him wearing the actual uniform too! The children saw a number of photos with the officer in and used their inference skills to deduce information about what was happening at the time. During the war, he was wounded and taken prisoner. He was the first British officer to escape from the Germans in the WW1. To help us to understand what he and all the other soldiers went through, Mr Wilson organised the children into groups: vets, medics, soldiers on watch, ammunition, communications and catering. One Y6 German soldier was also put in charge of the prisoners of war (POW). He had to try to keep the two POWs (Mrs Ward and Mrs Preswich) from escaping. All the children worked hard on their task. Then an attack happened and they all had to try to continue doing their jobs whilst being under fire from the enemy. It was noisy and exciting. When the attack ended, the prisoners of war had escaped just like Vandeleur did!
Mr Wilson also told us about his trip with his son and father to Somme in France and they walked on the same roads and by fields where soldiers would have battled 101 years ago, and his ancestors did too. He explained about how some areas are out of bounds due to unexploded bombs and grenades. As they were walking, they found shrapnel which he brought for us to look at. His son even found an a grenade which still had the pin in it. We saw this on a video which was incredible!
Thank you to Mr Wilson for helping us to deepen our understanding of WW1 and for bring history quite literally into our hands to see, feel and even sniff! It was also inspiring for the children to see someone with such fantastic knowledge of military history simply rooted in a deep interest which he shares with members of his family.
Year 6 spent the first part of half term writing their own Samba lyrics and composing their own Samba grooves that incorporate those lyrics. They have loved this unit of work and it has really helped them with their own creativity and musical knowledge and skills.
Music Linked to War
Since finishing Samba, the children have explored music linked to war, in particular, WWII Glenn Miller’s In The Mood and the forces sweetheart, Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again. They have identified that the popular music of this period was Jazz. They have learned a song called Hey Mr Miller which they performed in two parts simultaneously, and they have also learned to sing We’ll Meet Again as well as understand the significance of the lyrics.
We have now traced the history of Jazz to the Blues and are learning about the history of Blues music. Children are writing their own Blues song, and are working on a chime bar accompaniment and improvising melodies in a Blues style.
Singing & Christmas Production
As well as their weekly music lessons, Year 6 have been learning the lyrics and melodies for the Christmas production songs. They have really loved the regular practise both in class and with the whole of KS2. Some of the songs involved rounds which are always enjoyed by the children as they present quite a challenge but sound fantastic once they are learnt. One of the songs was also in German so this presented a new challenge to add to their singing and performance skills. The range of songs in the Christmas production was excellent, with a mixture of some more traditional carol medleys and some brand new Christmas songs. Once the children had mastered singing the songs confidently, it was time to work on the performance elements, acting, dancing and props so that the show came together. The performance was held in church and was a superb celebration of Christmas. Well done Y6 for your active participation in this.
Moving through the half term, the children have been working on improving their flexibility through dynamic stretching and comparing flexibility (swish kicks) after stretching. With these skills developing it was time to start working on time signatures and rhythm responses. Year 6 worked on creating responses to a set rhythm after working in groups to practise accented/even rhythms through claps, jumps, etc. This had links to music as musical terminology was introduced to aid understanding of crotchets and quavers.
The children then moved onto choreography. They learnt set steps and amalgamations in preparation for group based choreography. They will continue to work on this over the next couple of weeks putting their moves to Christmas themed music.
Street Dance – Inspiring You
Year 6 enjoyed a street dance workshop during our ‘Inspiring You Week’. We learned how Mrs Gillmor started dancing when she was three years old, competitions at 5 years old and continued this right up until she was 16 competing at a national level. She then worked really hard in order to gain more dance qualifications so that she could teach dance and she now teaches dance locally. We really enjoyed a dance warm up, some technique activities including leaps and cartwheels and then learning a street dance. We learnt 32 counts (4 sets of 8 counts) of a street dance that Mrs Gillmor had already choreographed and then pupils had a go at choreographing 16 counts themselves. The children then loved seeing the costumes that Mrs Gillmor used to wear for her competitions and were even allowed to try some of them on! We learned about how much dedication and commitment being a dancer took and Mrs Gillmor shared that she also wanted to join the army but pursued dancing instead. Mrs Gillmor still continues to learn new dances and enjoys sharing her talent and passion with others. Year 6 enjoyed being active learners during this workshop and receiving a first hand experience from a lifelong learner in Mrs Gilllmor. We send Mrs Gillmor a huge thank you for coming in during our ‘Inspiring You Week’.
PE with Mr Cooper
During autumn term, Year 6 have been demonstrating a wide range of skills and techniques that are used within a variety of invasion games such as rugby, hockey, football, netball and basketball. Their impressive understanding and awareness of particular skills that Mr Cooper worked with them on in the first half of term really showed, and they were able to progress these within the lessons, especially within a competitive scenario at the end of each lesson. Our key focuses to work on each week have been specific techniques and skills related to a sport, as well as when to use them (decision making) and how to use them whilst working as a team (tactics).
An example of this was during our basketball lesson. The children were first set the challenge of coming up with as many different ways they can pass the basketball as they can (within the rules of basketball). It was fantastic to see so much creativity and imagination, as well as basic understanding. They were then asked by Mr Cooper when and where we might use them in a game. This is where the children were able to use their leadership skills, using clear explanations and demonstrations. The children then moved on to talk about the basic passes they performed (chest pass, bounce pass, overhead pass, etc.) and again, when might it be most effective to use them in a game. We then moved on to play some mini games where each child had lots of turns at practising a selection of passes so that we could finally finish off with some proper games. They put their practice to the test, now having to work as part of a team and tying their technique, decision making and tactics into one.
We also had managed to squeeze in a lesson on tennis, where, to no surprise of Mr Cooper, Year 6 really impressed him with their brilliant understanding of when to play different shots, and in doing so, with fantastic technique, which earned Year 6 the status of ‘PE Class of the Week’ for the second time this year!
Aikido – Inspiring You
Year 6 were really fortunate during our Inspiring You themed week to have a Aikido taster session with Mr Grundy and Mr Walker who are active and passionate Aikido instructors and also compete in competitions both in the UK and other countries. The session started with some background context around Aikido. The main message around the Aikido was that it is used for self-defence and Mr Walker showed us some really amazing moves which brought Mr Grundy to the ground. Mr Grundy also showed us how to protect your back by breaking falls with rolls rather than falling flat.
The children then had the opportunity to have a go. This started with a tag game where the children took on a partner and had to intercept an object tucked behind them; they were not allowed to run around to dodge their partner, rather they had to make body contact and grab around their partner’s body. This was great fun. The next activity involved removing your opponents wrist band. They started in a sitting position back to back and were not allowed to rise to a standing position. There was lots of body contact and adrenaline running as it was extremely exciting.
This workshop supported the development of being active and resilient learners as growth mind-set was crucial; out of 25 in the class, 23 children had never tried this before and it is very physical so a ‘can-do’ attitude was crucial. Resilience was needed for the children who didn’t win their rounds and this was quite a challenge as adrenaline was flowing and definitely heightens emotions. The session was very active and Mr Grundy talked about the importance of healthy eating, an active lifestyle and dedication needed to be able to take this sport to a competitive level. Interestingly, Mr Grundy told us that there are more champions in this sport from Leeds Clubs than Japanese champions which is incredible since this is a Japanese discipline. Mr Grundy was very passionate that we could have a future champion sat there in the hall today if they worked hard at the sport.
Mr Walker also talked to the children about how having an interest in a martial arts like Aikido can also support developing confidence which can be used in so many other opportunities. He talked about how you can use that confidence, for example, in interviews for college, university and jobs.
Thank you to our fantastic volunteers, Mr Grundy and Mr Walker, for offering their time to enhancement our curriculum; what a fantastic experience this was!
Year 6 have been learning about the concept of bucket-filling and how it relates to pupil wellbeing. Bucket-filling refers to kind actions and behaviour practised by each other. It relies on the analogy that every person carries with them an invisible bucket. This bucket contains a person’s feelings and emotions. When the bucket is full, this represents us feeling happy and contented. However, when it is empty, we feel low, upset and dissatisfied.
We thought about how wonderful it feels to have a full bucket and how easily our buckets can be dipped through unkind words and actions of others. We thought about how it can take a long time to fill your bucket once it’s been dipped. Year 6 were then keen to put this into action so made a private promise to ensure that they are not dipping anyone’s bucket and will actually go out of their way to fill someone’s bucket too. We talked about practical ways that they can fill someone’s bucket – these gestures don’t have to be huge, they just need to be kind and genuine.
Live Simply: Our Role as Citizens
As a class, we learnt all about what net zero means and how we can, as citizens of the world and disciples of Jesus, take extra action to become zero heroes. We need to protect God’s planet and reduce the impact of humans which result in things like droughts and flooding. Year 6 thought about how they can have high aspirations to protect their immediate community of Wetherby and moving slightly wider to the Leeds area. The small actions that they all agreed were very simple for them to achieve (both themselves and with their families) will also contribute in a positive way to making the world a more stable place.
We are going to continue with our Live Simply mission and try to do even more to reduce waste. For example, walk one day a week, reuse items at home rather than throwing away, recycle and make a big effort to reduce plastic waste, etc.
Health and Hygiene
Year 6 have also been revisiting how to keep themselves healthy, and one really important thing to be very aware of and improve further is basic hygiene including hand washing to ensure that germs don’t spread. The children arrived in school, and within only a couple of minutes, they had all been infected with Mrs Ward’s germs – glitter! By the time the children were ready for register, they started to notice that they all had little particles of glitter on them or were sat within touching distance of it; these had spread simply by hand from the moment of greeting the children on the door to register. The children were shocked that I had been able to do this in such a short space of time but this is how germs spread, so we needed to discuss further how to help prevent real germs spreading like this in our class and school.
We revised how to wash hands properly and all the children went off to the bathrooms to practise. We also talked about the importance of catching the germs in tissues from coughs and sneezes, getting the tissue immediately into the bin and then washing hands again. The children now keep a tissue up their sleeve or in their pocket to catch germs quickly as winter coughs and colds are particularly challenging at this time of year. The children are also trying to become of more aware of things that sometimes go in their mouths like fingers and the ends of pens – it’s important to stop these things going into mouths to further reduce the chances of infection. We’ll keep this high priority to help it just become natural practice for the children moving forward.
Healthy Relationships and Gender Stereotypes
Year 6 learnt all about gender stereotypes today. They looked at a picture of a strong man and considered who the strongest person is that they know. 11 children shared their ideas and out of those 11, only 3 were women. The children offered some great suggests though about how you can be strong in mind rather than physically strong. We defined stereotyping as an idea or attitude linked to gender.
The children then took some time to think of stereo typical ideas which they have encountered. They came up with these ideas: boys like blue and girls like pink; men play football and women play netball; skipping is for girls; makeup is for girls; boys don’t cry; girls wear skirts and boys wear trousers; men earn more money than women; girls have long hair and boys have short hair; mums stay at home and dads go to work.
To give the children a tiny feeling of what it might be like to not have the same opportunities as the opposite gender, each child was given a card. The card said either M for male or F for female. This decided their gender. All the males came went out to work (they played maths games and did exercise outside) and all the females had to go to the other side of the classroom and stay home. The females watched from a distance. Their choice was taken away because of their gender. This generated some excellent discussions and developed their understanding of gender stereotypes so that they can avoid stereotyping themselves in future. To finish, they came up with some hashtags to support equality. #womancandothesameasmen #everyoneisequal #againststereotypes #fairisfun.
Thanks to Becki from Catholic Care for delivering this valuable PSHE lesson.
Personal Safety: Road Safety Training
At St Joseph’s, safeguarding is the number one priority and we use the curriculum as a tool to support developing the children’s knowledge and skills in this area. As a result, Year 6 had a road safety workshop delivered by Harriet from Leeds City Council. The importance of revising this with Y6 should not be underestimated as the statistics are frightening around accidents involving Year 7 children, and Year 6 children are only a few terms away from being in Year 7. Many of the Year 6 pupils are already growing in independence by spending increasing periods of time without their parents, for example, walking to and from home/school without supervision. Therefore, revision of road safety training is just what we need!
Harriet talked to us about communication and how drivers, pedestrians and cyclists all communicate on the road. Year 6 identified many ways that people on the road/pavements communicate, including: traffic lights to stop, get ready and go, zebra crossings to allow pedestrians to cross the road, speed limit signs, signs with people, children or animals on them to alert drivers to pedestrians, schools or animals locally, indicators to communicate that a driver is turning left or right and many more. In addition, they looked at the measures that the council have taken to try to calm traffic speed down; this includes things like speed humps and speed cameras.
Year 6 also watched some educational videos which were hard-hitting but needed to support getting the message across. Two specific areas which they watched videos about directly linked to their own decision making on a daily basis: one video was about a person walking across the road while chatting on a mobile phone and one was a person jumping over barriers to keep pedestrians away from buses and guided on designated foot pathways. The consequences on poor road safety choices were catastrophic! Many of our pupils walk home with a mobile phone to support their safety, however, if used at the wrong time, it could mean they lose concentration and put themselves in danger. In addition, at our school we have electric barriers for cars to enter the school and designated pathways for pedestrians to keep them away from the barriers and car parks. Everyday our pupils are already making choices to keep themselves safe and we hope that lessons like today heighten their awareness further. Thank you to the Road Safety Team from Leeds City Council for not only helping us to keep our children safe but also encouraging our children to be active, resilient and independent citizens when they are out and about.