Year 3 Curriculum Overview

Autumn 1Autumn 2Spring 1Spring 2Summer 1Summer 2
A Bug's LifeThe Lion, The Witch And The WardrobePyramids, Pharaohs And PapyrusChocolateCode BreakersAlong The Coast

A Bug's Life

‘A Bug’s Life’ is an exciting topic, which allows children to discover and investigate the lives of minibeasts. This topic is predominantly science based and looks in depth at insects and other mini-beasts. The children will investigate through ICT, books and hands-on experiences what these small creatures look like and why, their homes, what they eat and how they adapt to life in the wild.

Children begin the topic by taking part in a mini-beast hunt around the school grounds, where they identify and count the different types of insect that can be found. They will then observe the bugs that they collect and produce detailed observational sketches and drawings of their different features. Linking in with our literacy unit on non-chronological reports,. The children research a bug of their choice and create an informative non-fiction leaflet and also learn how to classify bugs according to their bug’s physical features.

Using what they have found out about the habitats and environmental needs of the minibeasts found, children design and make bug houses using natural resources. These will be put around the school site to help the insects survive the cold winter months.

Although the topic is mostly fact based, the children are also given the opportunity to develop their creative thinking and writing skills. They use what they have learnt in their research to design their own imaginary species of bug, describing its characteristics, favourite habitat and other interesting facts about it. This will also include writing an adventure story with the bug as the main character.

In class, the children will have the opportunity to handle or watch a large array of creepy crawlies and the homes they create for themselves, including observing first-hand the different stages of the life cycle of a butterfly. They will use drama to recreate this lifecycle and also to find out how ants work as a team to move items effectively
We use our class readers, The Bad Tempered Ladybird, The Omnibombulators and Harry the Poisonous Centipede, as a PSHE focus in this topic. Children will look at friendship and the importance of being kind and thoughtful towards each other.

By the end of this topic the children will be expert entomologists and will be inviting their parents in to share their newly acquired knowledge on minibeasts through short presentations using a medium of their choice.

WOW day: bug hunt

Fabulous Finish: Presentation to parents about minibeasts

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

The focus of this topic is C.S Lewis’ classic novel The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Children will explore the imaginary world of Narnia and investigate the historical period in which the book is set.

Links will be made with literacy lessons where the children will explore how the characters of the novel, both human and mythical, are described and developed, and how C.S Lewis portrays the different settings in the real world and in Narnia. The children will use similar techniques in their own creative writing by creating their own fantasy story imagining what might happen if they walked through a wardrobe into another world.

The characters in the book also enable us to discuss our own understanding of what we mean by villains and heroes. Children will consider a number of issues: What qualities do people have? What makes people behave in good and bad ways? What are reputations and how can we improve them? What are the perils of stranger danger? One of the key themes of the book is temptation. We use Turkish delight tasting not only to help the children improve their descriptive writing skills but also to understand how the White Queen was able to tempt Edmund into doing the wrong thing.

The children in the story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe were evacuees during World War Two and we investigate the effect the war had on England and its people. We launch the topic by recreating a wartime kitchen and looking at the effects of rationing on the home. Children use wartime recipes to bake rock buns and biscuits and make their own ration cards.

Finally, we will look at what happened in the Blitz in London and use drama to imagine what it was like when the air raid warnings sounded and it was time to go into the air raid shelters. Children will be given the opportunity to design and make an Anderson shelter. Following on from this we investigate what it must have been like to be World War Two evacuees, like the children in the book, separated from our parents and placed with families we don’t know. We listen to first hand accounts from actual evacuees.
One of the key focal points in the story is the lamppost. In the science and DT part of the topic we look at how we can create our own light source. The children will make a simple electrical circuit and find out how a torch works. They will use this knowledge to make their own torches.

As a finale to the topic the children will use what they have learnt to create a talking fantasy book based on their own fictional characters using a variety of drama techniques.

WOW Day: WWII cooking on a ration.

Fabulous Finish: VE Day Celebration

Pyramids, Pharaohs And Papyrus

This is a history and geography topic that looks at the life and times of the Ancient Egyptians.

We start the topic by building our own large-scale pyramid. Children take on the roles of the different workers (stone-movers, masons, overseers and scribes) who played a part in the creation of the Great Pyramids of Giza, all answerable to the whims of the Pharaoh, and gain an understanding of what conditions were like. They use the role-play to write their own ‘first-hand’ accounts of their experiences.

We consider how we know so much about a civilisation that lived so long ago and discuss the role of archaeologists in finding out about the past. Children then look at the location of Egypt on the world map and the importance of the River Nile to the Ancient Egyptians. They create 3D models of the Nile Valley showing its different features and the location of the Great Pyramids. They learn about the different Egyptian gods and their significance to the people’s lives and link this to their literacy unit on mythology.

We then investigate why the pyramids were built, looking in detail at the process of mummification and the journey to the afterlife. The importance in this process of some of the gods they met earlier is explored through drama. Children work with a theatre company to uncover facts and clues of King Mentuhote’s tomb.

The children explore how much of what we know about the Ancient Egyptians is gleaned through the interpretation of hieroglyphics. We look at the significance of the Rosetta Stone which ‘cracked the code’ and helped archaeologists to understand more about life in Ancient Egypt. Children are given the opportunity to practice writing using hieroglyphs on papyrus, which is a type of paper. Children will also study how the pyramids were built and look inside the Great Pyramid. They will discover the “lost” tomb of the boy King Tutankhamen and see what treasures were found within, considering why such items were buried with the Pharaoh.

To finish the topic the children will create interactive myth quests using their IT skills and all that they have learnt about this fascinating era.

WOW Day: Pyramid building

Fabulous Finish: Presenting 3D model of the Nile.


This topic uses Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryas a base through which to explore the significance of chocolate in our lives. Children will look at the key events in the story, designing their own golden tickets, and investigating the effect the desire to win a ticket has on the main characters.

Children begin the topic by tasting a variety of different chocolates and other sweet ingredients, analysing, through discussions, which are the most suitable for a chocolate bar. They use this analysis to design their own bar and wrapper.

Having tasted the chocolate, the children then investigate the journey from ‘bean to bar’. They will learn that chocolate comes from cacao beans, growing on cacao trees in tropical countries such as Ghana. Furthermore, they will discover what life is like in a small village in Ghana and compare it to their own life in Milton Keynes. We will also look at the importance of fair trade and the effects it has on local communities in Ghana.

Their journey takes them from Ghana to Birmingham, England where the children discover what happens to the cacao beans once they have been imported into Britain. The topic focuses on the chocolate manufacturer Cadbury. Children will learn about the history of the Cadbury family and how they tried to improve living and working conditions for their employees by moving from the over-crowded and dirty city to a more rural area where the safety and well being of the employees was paramount to a successful business. A trip to Cadbury World consolidates the children’s learning and enables them to see the manufacturing and packaging process at the Bourneville site and develop their skills at tasting a variety of chocolate!

Using their knowledge of the Bourneville site and the descriptions of Willy Wonka’s factory in the book, the children are given the task of designing their own chocolate factory site focusing above all on the needs of the employees. Children will also look at fair trade chocolate and see what this means and how it supports farmers in other countries.

To end the topic, children use their newly acquired expertise to improve on their initial tasting skills and create a weird and wonderful sweet creation smoothie to outdo Willy Wonka’s best.

WOW Day: Chocolate tasting

Fabulous Finish: Dragon’s Den style pitch to market their chocolate product

Code Breakers

What’s happened? A classroom window’s been smashed, there are footprints on the floor and something is missing from the classroom. Year 3 has turned into a crime investigation scene! The children, in role as police constables, start this topic by investigating a crime scene, using clues that they are given along the way, and solving the mystery of what has happened. A visit from the Community Police Officer gives them a real-life insight in how to approach the task in a systematic way.

The focus of this topic is problem solving and investigating how codes are used in everyday life. Children carry out a code survey in and around the school to discover the different codes around us. They investigate how and why different types of codes are used in our local environment and how they help us with identification and sorting. We look at the significance of car number plates and use ICT to create our own. Classrooms are turned into sorting offices and we identify how the use of postcodes enables the Royal Mail to deliver our post effectively and efficiently.

Children also look at how codes are used to communicate. They look in detail at Morse code and semaphore, sending and receiving their own messages using these codes. They go on to investigate how codes can help people to communicate by focusing on the history and use of Braille for people who are blind or visually impaired.

In music the children will learn about how codes are used to signify the length of a beat and they will use this knowledge to write their own musical rhythms, which they will perform using percussion instruments.

As a history focus, we will look at one of the most famous codes of all time, the Enigma code and machine, and explore how and why this is an important part of our local history. This involves a trip to Bletchley Park to see how the experts broke the code!

To consolidate all that they have learned, the topic will finish with the children taking part in a mission to find and retrieve the Enigma Machine, which has mysteriously disappeared. The task will require them to use their knowledge and skills in decoding the various codes that they have come across during the topic.

WOW Day: School Break-in

Fabulous Finish: Parents are invited in to crack codes and puzzles produced by the children

Along The Coast

This is mainly a history and geography unit. Children begin this topic with a lottery draw. Fortunately, they are all winners! Each group is given a different amount of money to spend on a holiday in the UK. Using maps and holiday brochures the children will choose their favourite destination. As part of the activity they will select appropriate accommodation for their group within their allocated budget. They will also decide on day trips and activities they can do once they are there, but at a price they can afford. They will learn why people are attracted to the coast.

They apply their numeracy skills to real life situations: using rail timetables to find appropriate departure times and calculating the time of arrival at their holiday destinations. Throughout the booking process the children will calculate the cost of their holiday and their balance, so they know how much of their budget is left, to ensure they do not overspend.

The children will also compare the types of holidays they take and those of people living in the past. In Literacy, the children will be looking at the features of play scripts and will be writing their own Punch and Judy puppet show, which was a very popular past time in Victorian times.

In music, the children will create a piece of music with a coastal theme, thinking about what sounds can be heard along the coast. In geography, the children will compare the different types of UK coastline i.e. pebble beaches of Brighton, bays and coves of Dorset and sandy beaches of Weston Super Mare. They will also investigate the importance of ports and harbours. Within PHSE the children will investigate the theme of bravery and the role of organisations which help others, learning about the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the heroic actions of Grace Darling. They will use this knowledge to work together to solve their own rescue dilemmas.


Fabulous Finish: Children present their own Punch and Judy show, which they have written themselves.

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Understanding the Year 3 Curriculum - A Guide For Parents