Year 4 Curriculum Overview

Autumn 1Autumn 2Spring 1Spring 2Summer 1Summer 2
The Circle Of LifeThe Explosive PlanetFood Glorious FoodNational TreasuresIncredible IndiaWater, Water

The Circle of Life

This geography and science-based unit focuses on the African savanna or grasslands.  

On launch day, the children learn about different African tribes and find out about the distinct roles men and women have in them. They take part in various traditions associated with some of the tribes, including spear throwing techniques using a javelin; the importance of clothing; and the wearing of jewellery that uses different coloured beads to represent different meanings. The children also learn tribal dancing and create one of their very own.  

In other geography lessons, the children identify where the continent of Africa is in the world and, with the help of an atlas, locate and name the countries which make up this vast landmass. Using photographic evidence, the children think about the similarities and differences which exist between African villages and cities compared to those in the UK. They then imagine how this will affect how people live in these areas.  

In science, the children discover how the savanna plants and animals have adapted in order to survive the very dry conditions of Central Africa. They are introduced to the terms ‘producers’, ‘predators’ and ‘prey’ and explore the idea of food chains and how these create the circle of life; they then consider how this links to an even bigger food web! The children recognise that living things can be grouped in a variety of ways and identify and name a range of animals and plants that can be found in this region. In addition, the children look at the positive and negative impacts humans have on the Serengeti and the importance of protecting its decreasing wildlife numbers. A trip to Whipsnade Zoo consolidates their science work and enables the children to see examples of African wildlife for themselves. 

In art, the children create their own piece of work, inspired by Nicola Davies, illustrator of Last – The story of a white rhino. They use sketching techniques to draw African animals focussing on understanding the concept of proportion and dimension. They then use blended pastels and newspaper to add tone. 

The Explosive Planet

This is a geography-based unit which involves studying the processes which cause extreme natural disasters and their impact on the natural environment and the people living in the area. 

Children identify where volcanoes are located in the world and look at what happens when volcanoes erupt, creating and exploding their own model volcanoes in class during launch day. They examine the geological structure of the Earth (the core, mantle and crust) and how movement of heat from the core causes the formation of volcanoes. The children label the different parts of a volcano and understand how the tectonic plates and the geological structure of Earth cause earthquakes which lead to the eruption of volcanoes. 

In history, the children investigate the disaster of Pompeii (79AD). Using artefacts and photographic evidence they earn how a volcanic eruption wiped out an entire village. 

In science, the children study rock samples, identifying the main characteristics of the three rock groups (igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary) and explaining how each type is formed. 

In art, children practise the skill of layering materials and paper to create a cross-section of a volcano. They explore what colours work best layered on top of others and use tearing techniques to rip and change the shape of the materials. From this they use different painting materials to create an explosion of lava. 

In design and technology lessons, children design and make a structure to withstand an earthquake. Exploring current earthquake hotspots helps the children to understand how building structures differ in these regions to those here in England. They test out and improve their structures by trialling different materials and evaluate their structure by testing it out using jelly to represent the surface of the Earth. 

During their music lessons, led by the Milton Keynes Music Hub, the children focus on pitch; they then children explore sound and pitch further by investigating the real-life sounds of a range of natural disasters.  

 Food Glorious Food

This is a mostly science and design technology-based unit that involves the discovery of why food is so important to our daily lives.   

On launch day, the children develop their DT food technology skills by making a vegetable chilli, learning how to use appropriate techniques for safely preparing, slicing and cutting foods and using an electric hob to cook their dish.  The chilli is then used as a starting point to investigate the origins of foods and food miles.  

In science, the children identify the different types of teeth in the human body and the role they play in consuming food. Through a hands-on experiment, they investigate the impact of sugar and how it can create tooth decay.  The children then learn about the digestive system and the role each organ plays within this. They create their own human digestive system in the classroom to demonstrate how the process works in the body. 

 Children also learn about the different food groups and why their body needs a varied and balanced diet. They spend time thinking about how we can reduce sugar in our diet and the reasons for trying to do this. Using their knowledge about nutrition, children design a label for their chilli including the nutritional value, food miles and health benefits of their meal.  

In further DT lessons, the children learn that food ingredients can be fresh, pre-cooked and processed. They extend their understanding of cooking techniques by making bread and discover that chemical reactions take place within food and cooking by considering the behaviour of yeast. 

In geography, the children discover where many of the foods we eat originate from and work out their carbon footprint in terms of food miles from plough to plate. They investigate how farming has changed over time in the UK and then compare our farming methods to those carried out around the world. During this investigation, the children develop their awareness of fair trade and how profits are shared between workers.   

RE learning focuses on Christian teaching about helping those in need, particularly feeding the hungry, using Jesus’ teachings from the Bible. The children use this as a basis to consider what inspires us to help others.  

National Treasures

National Treasures is a history and geography-based unit which explores the culture of the United Kingdom and looks at iconic landmarks that are considered to be national treasures. The children follow the story ‘The Queen’s Handbag’ by Steve Antony, using their mapping skills to plot out the journey made within the text. Along the way, the children explore the locations visited in the book, identify their cultural and historical significance, and consider why they might be seen as national treasures. 

In geography, children identify which countries make up the United Kingdom and the British Isles, their capital cities, and the main cities within them. They gain an understanding of what a county is, name the county they live in and its neighbouring counties and locate them on a map. They look at the different flags of the four nations and see how they are represented within the Union flag. 

In history, children investigate changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, using the national treasure Stonehenge as a case study.  

In design technology, the focus is on creating structures through learning about reinforcements and using materials to hold a mass for a given length of time. The children explore different types of bridges found in the UK and learn about Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a British engineer who designed some of the most famous bridges in the world.  The children then create their own bridges that will be able to hold a specific weight and bridge a specific length.  

In RE the children look at the main religions found in the UK, with a particular focus on Christianity, and think about how people’s behaviour is influenced by their religious beliefs.  The children also learn about inspirational figures, including Jesus and how his teachings inspire Christians today.  

Incredible India

This half term, the children discover India in this RE, art and geography-based unit. 

The children find out where the sub-continent is located within the world and identify its major cities and key geographical features, including the Himalayas and the River Ganges. Using a range of sources, they compare life in urban and rural Indian communities and explore the quality of life of the people living in them. 

The children learn about Indian culture and the lifestyles of the people who live there, tasting authentic Indian foods and learning about various types of clothing and traditions.  

In art and design technology, the children explore the skill of Batik painting and create their own authentic Indian art. They then use their designs to make a product of their choice (for example: pillowcase, bag, scarf) and transfer their batik design onto their product using sewing techniques. In DT, the children also make their own traditional vegetable samosas, selecting and preparing vegetables and spices to put into them. They practise their peeling and chopping skills and create a detailed plan and set of instructions for their product. 

In RE, the children explore and compare the different religions of India (Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism) in the context of Indian culture. They then focus on Hinduism, learning about the beliefs and behaviours of Hindus, how they worship, their sacred teachings and texts. The children consider how Hindu beliefs are expressed through food, clothes, symbols and the arts and create their own mehndi and rangoli patterns. 

Water, Water Everywhere

During this geography and science-based unit, the children investigate water as a finite resource which shapes our lives, the natural environment and peoples around the world. The children develop an understanding of the importance of water and an appreciation of how its availability affects different societies and economies.  

Using their map skills, the children name and locate the main rivers of the UK. They learn about the erosional and depositional features formed by the movements of rivers (such as valleys, waterfalls, meanders, and deltas) using maps and photographs to identify where within the river system they are found. The children also consider how our rivers are under threat from pollution and exploitation. 

In history, the children investigate how water has been used as a means of transport over the centuries and they consider the importance of canals to the local area during the Industrial Revolution, using the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne as a case study. They find out how this important local resource has shaped a variety of industries and settlements over time and how it has affected the lives of those who lived on, or near the canal. 

In science, the children learn about the water cycle and consider the part the processes of evaporation and condensation play in it, undertaking scientific experiments to support their understanding. Through these experiments, they also make links to the part that temperature plays in the rate of evaporation. During the period of this half term, the children also develop their geographical skills by recording and analysing data relating to rainfall. 

To conclude this unit, the children develop a campaign to conserve water, both at school and in the wider community.