An Aveley Primary Blog

 What is a chair made out of? Chair material?..
..Or how about a bench? Bench material?..
..And what on earth is a brick and an old piece of drainpipe doing in our classroom?!

This half term we put our scientist hats on and took on a new learning challenge, addressing the question of:

‘What material should the Three Little Pigs have used to build their house?’

 

To get us started on this topic, we spent some time exploring some everyday objects. This is where we can now help you answer some of the questions above…

Looking closely at different objects, we discussed the different materials that they are made from. Investigating a variety of different objects has helped us to realise that materials come in many different forms: different shapes, sizes and even colours!

We used lots of everyday objects (including a bit of a drain!) to discuss their appearance and how they feel. We then used this to help us sort the objects based on the material from which they are made:

    

    

Having realised that materials can come in many forms we decided we needed to find a way of recognising them, even when they are ‘disguised’ as different objects.

So, in order to recognise what materials different objects are made of, we have experimented with materials to discover their unique properties and characteristics.

As well as helping us to recognise these materials, deciding whether they are hard or soft, strong or weak, flexible or brittle, has helped us to think about why we might use materials for different purposes.

We have been set a whole lot of different challenges (by some of our favourite story characters!), which have required us to investigate the properties of different materials..

CHALLENGE 1: The Three Bears

Following Goldilocks’ visit, the Three Bears are keen to sort their house out! They called upon the help of the science team in 1S to help them to find out what material would be best to make new curtains.

We explored lots of different materials, investigating whether they are opaque or transparent. Once we had decided that, we thought about other properties that curtains might need (such as whether the materials were strong and light). After all, even though wood is opaque, it would be a silly material to use for a curtain!

Why do you think we decided that?

1S decided that fabric would be the best material for the bears, as it has the following properties:

  1. It is opaque so wouldn’t let any light in.
  2. It is light so could hang over our windows easily.
  3. It is soft an flexible so we could open and close the curtains easily.

The three bears were very happy with this decision and now have some lovely new fabric curtains! Well done 1S, great investigation skills!

CHALLENGE 2: Winnie the Pooh

In all of the horrible rainy weather last week, we had a phone call from Winnie the Pooh, who was very sad! He needed a new material to fix a great big hole that Piglet had made in is umbrella! Once again 1S’s scientists were ready to help find the right material to fix it.

We created an experiment to work out what materials are waterproof or absorbant.

When creating our experiment we thought about the variables we would need to change and what we needed to keep the same to make sure our experiment was a FAIR TEST.

We decided water needed to be kept the same. After all it wouldn’t be fair to pour a bucket on one material and a tiny teardrop on another would it!?

We spent time carefully desgining our experiments, thinking carefully about the methos we would use to test the materials:

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Then, we made PREDICTIONS (good guesses of which materials we thought might be waterproof based on what we already know about their physical properties). There can be no right or wrong answer with a prediction, because it is just your guess – how cool is that?!

We recorded these on a table, which we then used to record our actual results during our experiment:

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Once we had thought carefully about our experiment, we got investigating. Not only did this require us to carefully observe and ask questions about what had happened to different materials, but we had to use our teamwork skills to work together to make sure everyone got a turn and we were following our steps carefully.

This wasn’t a problem for us in 1S – we are fantastic teamplayers! Take a look at us investigating:

Once we had dried of our hands, we took a look at our results and decided, based on these, which materials are waterproof and which would be suitable for poor Pooh’s umbrella:

Our results led us to conclude that plastic would be the best material for the umbrella, because it is not only waterproof, but also flexible and light (we want Pooh to be able to carry his umbrella easily!).

Just when we thought our experiment was over and we could move on from helping out Pooh, Miss Stephenson told us bout the importance of evaluating our experiment. This meant thinking about which areas of our experiment went well and were fair, and what we could improve next time. We each gave ourselves 2 stars (things that went well) and a wish (something we will do next time) in order to do this.

Another character’s problem solved. 1S are getting very good at science investigations!

So What Materials should the Pigs Use?

Having explored the properties of different materials, we returned to our learning challenge question and decided on what materials we thought the pigs should have used to build their house:

      

Not only have we been doing all sorts of scientific work for this learning challenge, but we have been busy with our paintbrushes to! We thought about how we could use our hands and paint to create textures to represent different materials.

Some of these are up on our materials display in the KS2 corridor! 

In order to continue our exploration of the Arctic, we had to answer the question:

What animals live in the North Pole?

With our meerkat friends safely housed in the hot area of our book corner, a cold front suddenly (and rather unexpectedly!) swept in, creating a contrasting cold area. This came to house some more visiting animals who are adapted to a much colder, Arctic, environment than Sunny and his friends.

Lucky 1S!

Peter the Polar Bear (who has been showing us around his Arctic home, guiding our exploration of this new landscape) had come with some of his friends… MORE VISITORS!!

In order to start thinking abut what animals live in the North Pole, we went over to welcome the visitors, and discover what animals had come over with Peter..  

  

What a collection of animals! Can you name any of them before we introduce you?

Now that you’ve had a go at naming the animals, we’ll tell you who our visitors are:

  • Peter, the Polar Bear
  • Paddy and Penny the Penguins
  • Freddie the Arctic Fox
  • Sammy the Seal

While these were the only Arctic animals who made it all the way to join us in 1S, that was not the limit of our learning about Arcitc animals! We have also learnt about:

  • Holly the Hare
  • Pip the Puffin
  • Ollie the Snowy Owl
  • Sheila the Shark

Wow! Peter has a lot of different animal friends living with him in the Arctic!

We looked at lots of pictures of these animals, which helped us to spot some of their ADAPTATIONS that help keep them warm (so they don’t have to wear woolly hats and gloves like we do in the cold!). These range from their thick white fur and small ears (which we realised most of them have), to Sammy the Seal’s thick layer of fat.

Our learning about these animals didn’t stop there!! We then turned to look at different CATEGORIES that we can put animals into.

The first of these was determining whether they are:

  1. MAMMAL,
  2. FISH, or
  3. BIRD

Take a look at some of our Arctic animal posters, which will show you which categories some of the animals go into:
    

Not only did we categorise them in this way, but we also looked at DIET! Did you know you can categorise animals by what they eat?! These categories are:

  1. CARNIVORE (animals that only eat meat)
  2. HERBIVORE (animals that only eat plants)
  3. OMNIVORE (animals that eat meat AND plants)

As well as categorising Arctic AND African animals according to what they eat, we had some fun with VENN DIAGRAMS (maths in topic!).

Although we know that humans (like 1S) are technically OMNIVORES (because we can eat both meat and vegetables), we thought about what we like to eat. We then sorted ourselves into omnivores, carnivores and herbivores..

venn diagram

Using our Venn Diagram to help you, have a go at sorting yourself with your friends!:

  • Do you like chicken nuggets and burgers (but not fruit and vegetables)? – You are a CARNIVORE!
  • Do you prefer fruit and vegetables? – You are a HERBIVORE!
  • Do you like burgers AND the salad filling? – You are an OMNIVORE!

Wow what a crazy Arctic adventure!

Taking a step back, we realised that, not only did we have a contrast of hot and cold environments on our topic display wall, but the two contrasting worlds had collided in our book corner!
 


This led us to think about some of the differences between the two environments..

A shock message from Miss Stephenson led us to think about this in even more detail, taking us right back to our original learning challenge question.

Miss Stephenson overheard Sunny (the meerkat) and his friends suggesting they moved to Peter’s home in the Arctic when they leave 1S, instead of heading back to the Kalahari.

WE NEEDED TO WARN THEM OF OUR DISCOVERY THAT MEERKATS CANNOT LIVE IN THE NORTH POLE!!

We used what we know about the two environments to make posters to persuade them that a visit to the North Pole would not be a good idea!!

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You’ll be glad to hear that we now know enough about the sunny Kalahari Desert and the frosty North Pole, that we were able to give many great reasons why MEERKATS CANNOT LIVE IN THE NORTH POLE!

Not only are Sunny and his friends now happy to head home to Africa, but we have managed to answer our learning challenge question (‘Why Can’t Meerkats Live in the North Pole?’)!

Well done, 1S – What an achievement!!

I’m sure you’re all excited to hear about the learning underpinning our interesting display table involving a globe alongside some colourful calendars of Africa… Don’t worry, we won’t make you wait any longer! Here is an insight into our learning challenge that has been driving our topic work…

Our learning challenge question is: ‘Why Can’t Meerkats Live in the North Pole?’



This might seem a rather odd – maybe even slightly random – thing for us to be asking, here at Aveley (where we don’t have any meerkats around us and are based many many miles away from the North Pole!!).

But don’t you worry, despite what it might initially seem, this question is extremely relevant to our learning!

This is because, our new fiction focus is Emily Gravett’s ‘Meerkat Mail’. This gripping story follows the journey of ‘Sunny’ the meerkat, who leaves his home in the Kalahari Desert to discover whether the grass is greener on the other side, by packing his suitcase and exploring a number of other places.

But (spoiler alert!) Sunny realises that there’s no place like home: His home in the Kalahari Desert is the place that suits him best..

This challenge question was therefore something that we are all extremely curious to explore, so that we can discover more about the hot environment that Sunny comes from – and why it is “perfect” for him – but also the contrasting environment of the North Pole and why Sunny might not be able to live there..


In our literacy work, as well as producing some fantastic writing based on the story (which we will share with you later!), we used actions to create a whole-class recall of the story (we didn’t have to look at the book to remind us what happens once!).. While Joanne made a very confident, adventurous Sunny, we all narrated the story together and took turns being different characters that Sunny comes across.

Here we are recalling the story:

  
    
    
    

We also did some hot-seating to help us explore character thoughts and feelings.. Here are some of us being Sunny:

  
    
 While our literacy has been closely following this fictional story, out topic has enabled us to explore some of the FACTS.

We know that Sunny lives in the “Kalahari Desert”, so we began by finding out where this is. Have a guess – where do you think the Kalahari Desert is located? Do you think it is a hot or cold environment?

We discovered that the Kalahari is in South Africa. We even now know that this is a CONTINENT (land which is made up of many different COUNTRIES).

Discovering that this is a HOT environment (even hotter than our summer holidays here!), we have explored this climate as geographers, scientists and artists, by looking at:

1. What clothes we wear in hot environments.

 

2. What animals can be found in hot environments (helped by several sing-alongs to “The Lion King”‘s ‘Circle of Life’!)

3. What colours create a “hot mood”.

We thought about textures and shapes while we made our own ‘hot Africas’ by colouring, painting and collaging:

                                    


 

4. The difference between an African hut and our own homes in England.

5. Where in the world hot places are located.
This has led us to think about what happens as we move away from the EQUATOR and the temperature starts to drop..

Now we know lots about where meerkats do live.. Time to start exploring the North Pole and why they can’t live there…