Spring 2: Chocolate
For the second half of the Spring Term Year 5 are getting their teeth into all things Chocolate. We will start by travelling to Mesoamerica to learn all about the ancient Maya (who loved chocolate so much they used cacao beans as currency). As well as finding out about Maya homes, religion and diet we will have a go at playing the ancient Maya ball game pok-a-tok where the losing team were sacrificed to the gods (no children will be harmed in the teaching of this topic). We are going to make step pyramids from clay to create our own ancient Mayan city.
We will also be brushing up on our biography writing skills as we look at the life of George Cadbury – the great philanthropist and driving force behind the legendary Chocolate company. We are going to find out the secrets of his chocolate success and why he decided to build an entire village to house his workers in Bournville.
To further our non-fiction writing skills we will be looking at advertising: what are the secrets behind a really great advert? How do you persuade someone to buy your product? We will study slogans, logos and packaging and create our own chocolate products complete with packaging and advertising.
In maths we are focussing on fractions, decimals and percentages: how to calculate them; how they are linked and how we can use them in problem solving. We are also continuing our mental maths practice, focussing particularly on the division element of times tables. If you’re not using Times Tables Rockstars regularly at home we recommend you get onboard! It’s making a huge difference to our recall speed.
The high point of our topic is our planned trip to Cadbury World where we will learn all about the history of the company, look at how advertising and packaging has changed through the decades and hopefully get to sample a few chocolatey treats along the way. We will be setting some Do What You Like homework based on the Chocolate topic and can’t wait to see what you all produce!
Our topic for this half term is Time Travel.
We have started off by travelling through the wardrobe into the world of Narnia with our class novel The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. This wonderful classic work of literature has already inspired some fabulous writing and art work and we look forward to even more as the story unfolds. We are also doing lots of close reading of texts to improve our inference and deduction skills. A piece of reading homework is being sent home each Tuesday. Please make sure it is handed in the following Monday.
In maths we are working on our fluency in number and the four-rules. We are using practical equipment and real life problems to help deepen our understanding of multiplication and division and are learning how to find and work with fractions, decimals and percentages. We are practising our times tables on a daily basis and competition in our class “knock-out” game is really hotting-up so please keep working on your times tables speed at home to be in with a chance of victory.
In science we are learning about Changing Materials and their Properties and are doing lots of experiments to find out what happens when materials are mixed, heated or changed in other ways. We have already discovered how to make raisins dance and how milk can “clean” a bottle of cola. We look forward to sharing more of our scientific findings with you as the term progresses.
In geography we are working on mapping skills and are looking at how Henley has changed over time. We would be very grateful if anyone has any old photos of Henley they could share with us.
In PE we are doing sports hall activities and football.
In PSHE we are beginning a new (and highly recommended) whole school scheme of work called Jigsaw and we are celebrating RE with a special World Religion day in January.
For this first have term in year 5 we have been immersing ourselves in all things Greek. The children have worked very enthusiastically to learn about life in Ancient Greece: about the birth of Democracy, the rise of the City States, the battle of Marathon and life in Sparta versus life in Athens.
We had a fantastic Greek day where our superbly dressed Greeks made and painted clay vases, re-enacted the Trojan war and had a mini-Olympics on the field. We also played an ancient board game called Petteia which was designed to help teach Greek children battle strategies.
In English we have read several Greeks myths and written our own versions of Theseus and the Minotaur. We have written persuasive arguments arguing for or against the return of the Elgin marbles to Greece and looked at writing complex sentences with embedded clauses. We have done a lot of work on improving our inference skills in reading and used text annotation to help identify effective features of writing.
In maths we have been “mastering” place value and are deepening our knowledge and skills in addition and subtraction. We have done a lot of work on our mental maths to improve fluency and the competition in our daily “knock out” games is red hot! We have also been learning about the properties of rectangles, measuring and reasoning about angles and calculating area and perimeter.
In Science we have been looking at forces: at how, without friction, we would be unable to pick up a pencil or even sit on a chair. We have explored the difference between weight and mass and discovered how much we would weigh on other planets. We looked at which shapes move fastest through water and why and discovered how a falling apple sparked Isaac Newton’s greatest discovery.
Our new topic, Ancient Egyptians, is proving a big hit with the children. The variety of ‘Do What You Like’ home-learning projects that they’ve bought in has been amazing – thank you to all!
During the term, we are going to study several books including our core text, ‘Antony and Cleopatra’, as well as ‘Stories from Egypt’ and ‘The Egyptian Cinderella’. These books, in addition to our non-fiction collection, will provide inspiration for the children’s writing where we will be concentrating on action-narrative plus the powerful use of dialogue to convey character and advance plot.
Our forthcoming class trip (with Y6) to Birmingham Museum looks set to be a super exciting day out for all the children. I know that they will find looking around the Ancient Egypt gallery absolutely fascinating (not to mention the Romans, Greeks and Staffordshire Hoard galleries). They are particularly looking forward to the ‘Mummification’ workshop – I just can’t think why…
Finally, our ‘Ancient Egyptians’ class assembly is on the morning of Friday 23rd June. Accordingly, the children will be asked to research and create costumes after half-term – many thanks in advance for your support with this. We hope that you will be able to join us for this fun and entertaining journey back through history!
Our new topic for this term is Kings and Queens and the children have already been tasked with their DWYL projects which we’re really looking forward to sharing in February. Complimenting this “history” topic is our new core text, Treason, by Bertie Doherty. Set in Tudor times, it’s a story about a page boy to Prince Edward (son of King Henry VIII) who, as the King’s favourite, gains many enemies in Court. The boy’s enemies convince the King that his father has committed treason, so he embarks on a great adventure to set his father free from imprisonment and possible death… The children all rated their last core text, The Girl of Ink and Stars, 4 or 5 stars out of 5 so I hope they all love this one just as much!
Another book that we have recently enjoyed immensely is The Crow’s Tale by Naomi Howarth. Inspired by the beautiful prose, the children wrote and developed their own poems/prose, incorporating many different language features such as metaphors, onomatopoeia and personification. They are on display, so please enjoy reading them when you next visit.
In maths, we are exploring fractions and the children are having fun investigating equivalents etc. using Lego, cubes and Cuisenaire rods. Later on in the term, we will study decimals and percentages, as well as how to convert from one to another. Of course, Big Maths continues with great excitement, determination and pride.
In Science, we are moving on to Animals including Humans which examines the life-cycle of a human being from birth to death. Likewise, we will be discussing and debating some life and death concepts in RE, including the Christian festival of Easter next half-term. In PE and PSHE, the children are learning about respect, teamwork, leadership and how to resolve ‘issues’.
Superheroes and superheroines in the classroom every day! So far, the children have loved designing ‘Maths Superheroes’, exploring appropriate materials for superhero costumes in Science and composing prepositional superhero poems in English. They have compared comic-book superhero theme tunes and studied the song/video ‘Titanium’. In addition, they really enjoyed the opportunity to ‘bring and share’ a photo/object about someone who is their very own ‘superhero’. It transpires that their parents and grandparents – and, yes, even some of their siblings – are an inspirational lot!
Going forward, we will move from modern-day mythical and legendary characters to those of old. In particular, we will focus on some of the famous Greek myths such as Icarus, Medusa and Pandora’s Box. Throughout the term, we will be reading together ‘Girl of Ink and Stars’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, using this core text to develop the children’s reading and comprehension skills. For their termly DWYL home-learning, the children will be asked to complete a project on Ancient Greece. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!