Year 5 Curriculum Overview

Autumn 1Autumn 2Spring 1Spring 2Summer 1Summer 2
The VictoriansBorn in the USAAll Roads Lead to RomeNeed for SpeedInfinity and BeyondFitness for Life

The Victorians- An Era of Inventions

This history-based unit looks at the social and technological advances that took place during the reign of Queen Victoria. 

On launch day, the children are transported back in time to the 1870s and find themselves in a Victorian classroom. They discover what schools were like during this time and make comparisons to their own experiences.  A series of authentic lessons are taught by our Victorian teachers in which the children are expected to use both a slate and a pen and ink. The children also create their own sampler bookmark using cross stitch.  

The children discover who Queen Victoria was and research the key events in her long reign including the influence of her husband Prince Albert.  They investigate the expansion of the British Empire during the reign, building on their knowledge of the term ‘empire’ from their study of the Roman Empire. They locate the largest countries in the Empire on a world map and discuss their location. The children then investigate the advantages and disadvantages of the British Empire at this time and discuss their own views about whether the Empire was a good thing for the world. 

As well as looking at changes in opportunities to attend school during this period, the children investigate some of the other key social and legal reforms made at the time focussing on the working conditions of children at work and public health. A trip to Holdenby House in Northamptonshire provides the children with the opportunity to experience first-hand what life was like for young servants in a country house where they have to carry out a number of tasks under the watchful eyes of the exacting Mrs Bumbridge and Mrs Crumpet!  

The children then become social reformers and undertake an in-depth study to see how the Victorians scientifically discovered how cholera spread. They begin by making their own hypotheses and predictions before carrying out more detailed research.  Using grid references, they complete a map to show where the victims of cholera were located and analyse the distribution and spread of sufferers to identify the source of the infection.  

Finally, the children debate the question’: What was the Victorians’ greatest invention?’  They start by investigating the impact that a range of inventions and technological advances had on life in Victorian times and consider the impact they continue to have on our own lives. They learn about the significance of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and imagine what inventions might have been included if a further exhibition was to be held 30 years later in 1881. 

In art, the children investigate perspective through drawing. They are taught how to use a focal point and a horizon to show perspective, then use the artist L.S. Lowry as inspiration to create their own street view drawings of a Victorian terraced street.

Born in the USA

In this unit, the children investigate the key human and physical features of parts of the USA and develop their geographical knowledge of weather patterns and climate zones. 

The children begin by locating and naming the 50 states within America and plotting its surrounding countries. The launch day then immerses them into some typical American culture. They play flag football (a version of American football) and take part in a dance class to learn a short street dance style routine. To end the day the children, make their own American diner-style milkshakes and pancakes and enjoy tasting their creations whilst listening to 50s and 60s American diner music.  

We use the historical Route 66 as inspiration for geography lessons. Beginning in Chicago, Illinois, the children venture across North America visiting Lake Michigan in Illinois, Tornado Alley in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas before stopping off in Arizona to look at the human and physical features of the Hoover Dam, Arizona Desert and the infamous Grand Canyon. They end their trip by visiting Las Vegas where they look at bird’s eye view maps and images to show how human features have affected the physical features of the landscape.  

In design and technology, the children design and build their own skyscraper before putting them together to create a class city. They look at the designs and layout of famous skyscrapers in American cities for inspiration. The children investigate how triangles are the strongest shapes and how they can reinforce their structures by using them.  

Thanksgiving Day falls within this half term and so the children learn about the history of this festival and why it is celebrated by the American people.  They watch clips of the famous Macy’s Parade and make their own pumpkin pie. In RE lessons the children discuss how they celebrate significant events and reflect on what they themselves are thankful for and reflect on what they are thankful for and why it is important to be grateful for what we have. The children look at how some of the great American role models have been remembered through dedicated days, art and celebrations. They then consider the question: How should people be remembered once they have died? 

All Roads Lead to Rome

This is a history and geography-based unit in which the children learn about the historical and geographical impact the Romans had on Britain and the empire’s lasting legacy. 

On launch day, the children are introduced to the terms ‘invade’ and ‘conquer’ and look at how the Roman Empire expanded over time. They investigate the role of the Roman army in this process and complete a job description and person specification for a legionary soldier before being recruited as centurions themselves. The newly recruited soldiers are taught about the different battle formations the Romans used and consider why they were effective. 

In further history lessons, the children consider why the Romans invaded Britain and the challenges they encountered from the Celtic tribes living there, with a focus on Boudicca and the Iceni tribe.  They look at the layout and key buildings found in Roman towns and use this knowledge to create their own plan for a new town to the specifications of the Roman Empire. The children then reflect on the similarities and differences between Roman towns compared with modern settlements, discovering that many place names have their origins in the Roman conquest and that Roman technology, architecture, designs, and inventions are still used today, e.g., the use of cement in building, public baths, sanitation, aqueducts and under floor heating. The children investigate how our language has been influenced by the Latin language which was spoken by the Romans. They also investigate other legacies of the Roman occupation: our legal system which is based upon Roman law by establishing the premise that you are innocent until proven guilty; that we measure our population using a census; and that we still use the Julian calendar with 12 months and 365 days in each year. Throughout this unit, the children reflect on what primary historical sources are available to support their understanding at a time when the written word was not widespread. 

In art, the children design and make their own mosaic floors, using their maths knowledge and understanding of contrasting colours, patterns and tessellations.  

Need for Speed

This is a mainly a science and design technology unit, which focuses on the world of Formula One racing. 

In science, the children undertake a series of investigations to gain an understanding of various forces (friction, air resistance, gravity) in the context of designing and racing cars. They explore the concepts of streamlining and air resistance by creating parachutes from various materials and testing which one travels the slowest. They evaluate their parachute and suggest improvements to further increase the air resistance to make the model parachutes even safer. The children also test different cars on a variety of surfaces to find out exactly how friction works. They do this by choosing one variable to change each time (e.g. car tyre size, car chassis size, mass of the car) to find out whether the speed of the car is impacted or not by the change. 

In design and technology, the children create a sling shot car. They plan the shape and body of their vehicle, then design and create a chassis, selecting appropriate materials and components for the task, before assembling and testing their product. The children carry out numerous investigations into the effect of incline on speed and distance travelled and discover how the design and shape of their car also affects its speed.  

For the majority of these lessons, the children work in teams, learning how to communicate and collaborate effectively, much like Formula One teams would do. 

In geography, the children develop their map reading skills by using atlases and grid references, to plot the locations of the Formula One World Championship host countries on a world map. They consider how climate and physical geography might affect driving conditions in the races held there and what adaptations might therefore need to be made to racing cars for a particular Grand Prix. Finally, the children look at the growth in popularity of electric cars and their use around the world. They investigate how, as a result of unfair resource distribution, some countries are unable to be fully functioning with these types of cars. 

Infinity and Beyond

This is a science-based unit which focusses on space and the solar system.  

Launch day involves the children looking at a day in the life of an astronaut. They complete a range of challenges using their body weight, sharp reactions, balance, and coordination so they can gain a better understanding of what the job involves and what skills are needed.  The children then take part in an experiment to investigate how rockets are launched.  

In science lessons the children learn about the relationship between the Sun, the Earth and the Moon. The unit starts with a tour of the planets which orbit the sun, and the children compare their individual features. They find out that the Earth orbits the Sun once each year and, due to the tilt of the Earth’s axis, this explains why we have different seasons. The children discover that it takes 24 hours for the Sun to rotate on its axis, and that we have periods of day and night depending on where the Sun is in relation to a country’s position on Earth. The children also learn about the different time zones and the Prime/ Greenwich Meridian, making links to longitude lines. 

The children learn about the history of The Space Race and think about what it must have been like to be the first people launched into space and the first to step onto the Moon. Using the text, ‘Hidden Figures’ by Margot Shetterley, the children gain an understanding of the role that three African American women played in supporting the Americans and their mission to space. Discussion also takes place about the significance of their role, especially as women in a male dominated industry and during times of segregation imposed upon black people in America. 

In art, the children create an imaginative piece of work based on the solar system using a variety of sources (such as observations, drawings, themes, and music), as well as illustrations from the book ‘Planetarium’ by the Science Museum. They explore several art techniques, experiment in using them and then select their preferred one to create an abstract piece of art. The children explore techniques such as cross-hatching and the use of lines for effect as well as the use of contrasting and complementary colours to add depth to their work. Their final piece is drawn in a porthole template to give the impression of the view an astronaut might have of their chosen planet. 

In music, the children start to use musical notation to create a musical sound scape using percussion instruments. In both their music and art lessons, they listen to Gustav Holt’s ‘The Planets’ to give them inspiration. the ‘Big Bang’ 

 In RE, the children investigate the scientific theory of how the world began and compare it with the creation beliefs of the Christian faith. They then consider what Christians believe about life after death and why. 

Fitness For Life

This is a Science based unit which investigates the importance of keeping fit through exercise and healthy eating. Throughout the unit the children assess their own levels of fitness and learn how they can keep fit as they go through life. The children complete a fitness ‘test’ at the start of the unit and then repeat the test at the end to compare their rates of fitness. 

The children investigate the impact of exercise on their bodies and how different types of exercise contribute to different areas of fitness and the importance of taking part in warming up and cooling down routines. They record their heart rates before and after exercise and plot and analyse this information in the form of a line graph. Reflecting on how their bodies move, the children learn about the different types of muscles, focussing on the location of the main skeletal muscles. 

After recapping the names of the main bones of the skeleton learnt in year 3, the children look in more detail at the function of the skeleton, how it protects the major organs and how it changes over time. They identify and name the main parts of the human circulatory system, and investigate the functions of the heart, blood vessels and blood. Using this knowledge, the children create a model replica of a working heart which demonstrates how the muscles and blood flow work.  

The children learn what nutrients are and why we need them. They then investigate how nutrients and water are transported around the body, and the impact diet has on the way their body functions.  

In design and technology, the children apply their understanding of how muscles work to create a working 3D model of the arm. 

In RE, the children consider what ‘my body as a temple’ means and identify how different religious communities treat their bodies as a temple, both physically and mentally. They then use their own beliefs and moral codes to decide how they can treat their own bodies as temples. 

In art, the children learn about the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci, with a focus on his anatomical drawings. They consider which pencil variation would be the best to use to sketch their own anatomical drawings, paying particular attention to proportion, tone, line, and shading, and use their knowledge of the skeleton to create sketches that are as realistic as possible.