Year 5


The principal focus of science teaching in upper key stage 2 is to enable pupils to develop a deeper understanding of a wide range of scientific ideas. They should do this through exploring and talking about their ideas; asking their own questions about scientific phenomena; and analysing functions, relationships and interactions more systematically. 


National Curriculum for Year 5

Living Things and their Habitats:  

  • describe the differences in the life cycles of a mammal, an amphibian, an insect and a bird  

  • describe the life process of reproduction in some plants and animals

Animals including humans:

  • describe the changes as humans develop to old age. 

Properties and Changes of Materials:

  • compare and group together everyday materials on the basis of their properties, including their hardness, solubility, transparency, conductivity (electrical and thermal), and response to magnets  

  • know that some materials will dissolve in liquid to form a solution, and describe how to recover a substance from a solution  

  • use knowledge of solids, liquids and gases to decide how mixtures might be separated, including through filtering, sieving and evaporating  

  • give reasons, based on evidence from comparative and fair tests, for the particular uses of everyday materials, including metals, wood and plastic  

  • demonstrate that dissolving, mixing and changes of state are reversible changes  

  • explain that some changes result in the formation of new materials, and that this kind of change is not usually reversible, including changes associated with burning and the action of acid on bicarbonate of soda.

Earth and Space:

  • describe the movement of the Earth, and other planets, relative to the Sun in the solar system  

  • describe the movement of the Moon relative to the Earth  

  • describe the Sun, Earth and Moon as approximately spherical bodies  

  • use the idea of the Earth’s rotation to explain day and night and the apparent movement of the sun across the sky. 


  • explain that unsupported objects fall towards the Earth because of the force of gravity acting between the Earth and the falling object 

  •  identify the effects of air resistance, water resistance and friction, that act between moving surfaces  

  • recognise that some mechanisms, including levers, pulleys and gears, allow a smaller force to have a greater effect. 


Home challenge ideas:

Living Things and their Habitats

Survey – How many different animals can we find in the wildlife area?

Allow the children to explore different habitats in the local area, recording the number of each animal that they find.

Identifying - Can you use the flower to identify the plant? will help you to identify some of the plants. 

Allow the children to explore different plants in the local area. 

Encourage children to look for: colours, number of petals, shape of petals and the parts inside the petal.

Identifying – Can you use the leaves to identify the name of the tree?

The easiest way to identify trees is by looking at their leaves. 

Use free identification charts from Woodland Trust, or buy some from Gatekeeper.

Deep thinking time – How does a change in the environment affect the things that live there?

Take children outside to look at particular habitats and microhabitats. 

Look for evidence as to how the environment can affect (positively and negatively) the animals that live there). Give children a made-up piece of news and they have to think what might happen next.

1. The factory in the next town has started making something new. As a result, dark smoke is often seen coming out their large chimneys.

2. A new road has been built next to the wildlife area. This road is very busy.

3. An all-weather sports pitch has been built next to the wildlife area. The pitch has large floodlights.

Research – What changes have affected environments throughout the world?

This is a great opportunity for children to find out more about how environments are changing and have changed throughout the world. Remember that there are often positive benefits as well as the negative results.

The following videos may initiate discussion:

Foxes at a landfill site -

Red tailed bumblebees at a wasteland -

Problems facing sea birds -

Threat to water vole habitats -

Animals including humans 

Simple test – What happens when we chew food?

Each of the children can begin to chew some bread (do not swallow). 

Chew for a minute and observe how it changes. Stop chewing and think about what is the liquid that has mixed in with the food. Leave the ball of food in mouth for three minute and then observe its taste.

Modelling  - The stomach

Give each child a ziploc bag and a piece of bread. 

The bag is like the stomach - a muscle that squeezes the food. First have them pour a little orange juice or coke into the bag to act as the "digestive juices." Observe what begins to happen to the bread. 

Then have them squeeze the bag for two minutes. Note changes in the bread.

Introducing the whole digestive system

The video below is animation of the digestive system; explaining the processes with the correct scientific terminology:

The children could each write a diary for a piece of food being eaten. To make things a little bit more interesting, they can write the story as if they were the food!

Deep thinking time – What are food-chains?

Begin by asking the children to list some of the things that we eat. 

Explain that we are part of a food-chain; the food has come from somewhere else and we have eaten it. 

Children to create a range of food chains. The children should identify that each originates with plants. 

Further research

The children could be challenged to find out more about food-chains of animals and plants all around the world.

States of Matter

Identifying and classifying – Solid, liquid and gas balloon

Fill some balloons with water and freeze. In other balloons fill with liquid water. Just fill the remaining balloons with gas by blowing into them.

Ask the children to feel each of the balloons and decide what a solid is, a liquid and a gas is.

The video above shows some clear models of solids, liquids and gases.

The video above shows an animation explaining the three states of matter.

Simple test - Can gas be made from a solid and a liquid?

Provide children with a small plastic bottle, water, an effervescent tablet and a balloon. 

The children should place the water and tablet in the bottle.

The balloon can be fitted over the neck of the bottle in order to capture the gas (carbon dioxide) created.

Simple test - What happens to gas when it is heated?

Gather a balloon, a small plastic bottle and a bowl of warm water. 

Children should place the balloon over the neck of the bottle and then place the bottle into the warm water. 

They could investigate this further by changing the size of the bottle, or changing the temperature of the water

Simple test – Do all liquids freeze?

Children can plan and carry out their own investigation to find out whether all liquids will freeze.

Illustrative fair test investigation– ‘Will the location of a puddle affect how well it evaporates?’

Firstly, create small puddles in trays and place them in different places inside the home.

You would need to measure how much water there is in the tray each time.

Compare the speed of evaporation. 


Survey – What different sounds can be heard?

Go into an open space. Close your eyes and listen for the different sounds.


Draw yourselves as a cross in the middle of a sheet of paper. Show where you heard the different sounds; i.e. the relative distance of the thing, and the direction from you.

Illustrative fair-test – How does the height from which a tube is dropped affect the loudness of the sound produced?

The children could help to plan an investigation where they must drop an object (e.g. a tube of tablets) into a metal bowl. 

They could score the loudness each time the tube is dropped into it.. 

You might find you need to place a soft material into the metal trays in order that the sound is muffled.

Comparative Test·    

Fill identical jars with different volumes of water. Which one creates the highest pitch?



Which material would make the best sound defender? How can you investigate this?



Classifying – What can electricity do?

Take children on an electricity hunt around the home. 

Ask the child to observe all the different effects that electricity has on the various appliances that they encounter– i.e. make them warm/cold, cause movement, produce light, and create sounds.

The following video shows the effects that electricity has -



Ask children to share ideas about how they could record their sorting of electrical appliances according to the effect that electricity has on them. 

Observation – What can we find inside a torch?

Allow children the opportunity to take torches apart in order to discover the components that are contained within them.


Recording –

 The children could draw each of the parts and explain what it does in order for the torch as a whole to function properly.



Working Scientifically: 

During years 5 and 6, pupils should be taught to use the following practical scientific methods, processes and skills through the teaching of the programme of study content: :  

  • planning different types of scientific enquiries to answer questions, including recognising and controlling variables where necessary

  • taking measurements, using a range of scientific equipment, with increasing accuracy and precision, taking repeat readings when appropriate  

  • recording data and results of increasing complexity using scientific diagrams and labels, classification keys, tables, scatter graphs, bar and line graphs  

  • using test results to make predictions to set up further comparative and fair tests  

  • reporting and presenting findings from enquiries, including conclusions, causal relationships and explanations of and degree of trust in results, in oral and written forms such as displays and other presentations  

  • identifying scientific evidence that has been used to support or refute ideas or arguments


Websites for investigation ideas: