The principal focus of science teaching in lower key stage 2 is to enable pupils to broaden their scientific view of the world around them. They should do this through exploring, talking about, testing and developing ideas about everyday phenomena and the relationships between living things and familiar environments, and by beginning to develop their ideas about functions, relationships and interactions. 


National Curriculum for Year 3


  • identify and describe the functions of different parts of flowering plants: roots, stem/trunk, leaves and flowers  

  • explore the requirements of plants for life and growth (air, light, water, nutrients from soil, and room to grow) and how they vary from plant to plant 

  • Investigate the way in which water is transported within plants  

  • explore the part that flowers play in the life cycle of flowering plants, including pollination, seed formation and seed dispersal

Animals including humans:

  • identify that animals, including humans, need the right types and amount of nutrition, and that they cannot make their own food; they get nutrition from what they eat  

  • identify that humans and some other animals have skeletons and muscles for support, protection and movement.


  • compare and group together different kinds of rocks on the basis of their appearance and simple physical properties  

  • describe in simple terms how fossils are formed when things that have lived are trapped within rock  

  • recognise that soils are made from rocks and organic matter..


  • recognise that they need light in order to see things and that dark is the absence of light  

  • notice that light is reflected from surfaces  

  • recognise that light from the sun can be dangerous and that there are ways to protect their eyes  

  • recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by an opaque object  

  • find patterns in the way that the size of shadows change. 

Forces and Magnets:

  • compare how things move on different surfaces  notice that some forces need contact between two objects, but magnetic forces can act at a distance  

  • observe how magnets attract or repel each other and attract some materials and not others  

  • compare and group together a variety of everyday materials on the basis of whether they are attracted to a magnet, and identify some magnetic materials  

  • describe magnets as having two poles  predict whether two magnets will attract or repel each other, depending on which poles are facing. 


Home challenge ideas:


Research - find out the names of some of the plants growing around your home

This should include any trees, wild flowers and garden plants. 

The following website is useful to help you work out which plants you have: www.shootgardening.co.uk/plant/identify

What happens to the leaves of plants when their roots are placed in dye?

Use ‘weeds’ dug up carefully with their root systems washed off in water. 

Remove the two ends from a scarlet red felt-tip pen, take out the porous ink cartridge, cut into pieces and soak these in a small amount of water. 

Look at the plants throughout the day; in particular the colour of the leaf veins. They might need to be left overnight.

Observation – What do the parts in a flower do?

Allow the children to look inside a range of flowers. Ask them to identify different parts. Can they work out what the different parts are for?

Simple test - How can we prove that stems transport water?

Place a white carnation and a stick of celery into separate containers of water. Add a dark food colouring to the water and mark the water level on the container. 

Over the next several days observe what happens to the plants and the water. 


Draw each of the stems before and after they have been placed in the water/dye mixture.

Observation - What does the stem do?

Children need to go outside and look at many different plants in situ and describe what the stem is doing to help the plant survive – i.e. it holds up the leaves and flowers.

Animals including humans 

Simple test - Measuring muscles working in pairs

Get children to feel their biceps and triceps as they move their fist towards their shoulder. Explain that as one contract the other relaxes. Children could measure their biceps contracted and relaxed. 

Comparative test - Measure who has the quickest reaction times

Children must decide on how they could find out the reaction times of different children. 

They could, for instance, measure how much of a ruler pass through their hand when it is dropped from just above their open fist.

Research other animals - Which food do animals need in order to survive?

Give children an opportunity to find out the types of food and quantity of foods that different animals eat. 

Try not to focus only on the larger animals that are found outside of Britain.  Often it is more challenging and more relevant for children to find out the types of food eaten by animals that they might find around the school grounds such as centipedes (carnivores) and millipedes (herbivores).

Pattern Seeking Investigation -  

Does the person with the longest legs always jump the furthest?

Make a model- the human skeleton

Using just paper, the children could make their own skeletons. They could research some of the names.

The following website will allow you to place virtual bones in a virtual body - http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/body/interactives/3djigsaw_02/index.shtml?skeleton


Observation – What do the different rocks look like?

Allow the children to handle a selection of rocks and look at them carefully. 

The children could sort them according to whether or not they can see crystals in them. 

They could then choose sorting criteria of their own: e.g. texture, sharpness of edges, whether or not it feels powdery, etc. 

Classifying – Which types of soil do you have?

First, moisten the soil with a little bit of water and then test if they are sticky.

Loamy = It is not sticky but it can roll into a ball

Sandy = It is not sticky and cannot roll into a ball

Silty = It is sticky, it can roll into a ball and it can break easily

Clayey = It is sticky, it can roll into a ball and it won’t break easily

Survey - Which are the rocks near our school?

Plan a route around an area near to your house. Look for where rocks have been used in buildings and other structures around where your school is?  


The children could record where on the walk they found rocks, what they had been used for, and why they think these particular rocks were chosen for those objects (i.e. working out the rocks’ properties).

Sort and investigate 

Sort different types of rocks based on how rough or smooth they are, whether they have grains or crystals, how permeable they are, how easily they can break down, how strong they are and what they look like



Explore – Where can shadows be found?

Take the children on a ‘shadow search’ around the home. Every time a shadow is discovered, encourage the children to indicate the light source/s and the object that is blocking the light from that source/s. 

The following video will help children to develop their thinking: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/how-does-light-create-shadows/2172.html


Exploration – How can we change the size of a shadow?

Video - http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/how-shadows-are-made-shadow-puppets/2175.html

Ask the children to explore – find ways to change the size of the puppet’s shadow.

Investigation over time – How does the length and place of a shadow change?

Take the children outside and choose a special place that will be your shadow pole position for the whole day. 

A photo can be taken and children can be encouraged to measure the length of the shadow. They could take measurements over the period of a day. 


Problem-solving – Making a shadow clock.

Create a sundial and gnomon. This will allow the children to tell the time using the Sun throughout the year (as long as there is enough sunlight!). 


Investigate – 

What happens when light is reflected from different surfaces

What happens when light is reflected from a mirror

What happens when the angle of the mirror (or light source changes?)

Forces and Magnets

Make a game – The magnetic lions!

Begin by drawing a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. 

Along the length of the paper at both sides of the line they must place pairs of magnets (lions). 

Using another magnet (the explorer), they must push it along the line without attracting the ‘lions’. 

The children can find out how near they can place their lions without them being attracted to the explorer. The children could then invent their own course; maybe a twisting line.

Problem-solving – Make a fridge magnet

Challenge the children to make fridge magnets. They could use many types of old food pots/tubs, decorate them and attach a magnet inside them.

Comparative test - Which magnet is the strongest?

1. The kite. Cut out a small piece of card into a kite shape. Attach a paperclip to one end. Using sellotape, attach a length of thread to the other end of the paper (kite). Use the tape to attach the other end of the string to the table. Lift the kite into the air by using a magnet to attract the paperclip. The children could find out the how far away from the paperclip the magnet can be without the kite falling to the table.

2. Paperclip chain. Attach a metal paperclip to the end of a magnet. How many more paper clips can be attached to form a chain?

3. Attract through paper. Place a magnet below a sheet of paper and a paperclip on top. How many sheets of paper can each of the magnets attract through?

Comparative test – Which materials can magnets attract through?

Ask children to develop their own investigation to find out which materials a magnet will attract a metal paper clip through.




Working Scientifically: 

During years 3 and 4, pupils should be taught to use the following practical scientific methods, processes and skills through the teaching of the programme of study content: :  

  • asking relevant questions and using different types of scientific enquiries to answer them  

  • setting up simple practical enquiries, comparative and fair tests 

  • making systematic and careful observations and, where appropriate, taking accurate measurements using standard units, using a range of equipment, including thermometers and data loggers  

  • gathering, recording, classifying and presenting data in a variety of ways to help in answering questions  

  • recording findings using simple scientific language, drawings, labelled diagrams, keys, bar charts, and tables  

  • reporting on findings from enquiries, including oral and written explanations, displays or presentations of results and conclusions  

  • using results to draw simple conclusions, make predictions for new values, suggest improvements and raise further questions  identifying differences, similarities or changes related to simple scientific ideas and processes  

  • using straightforward scientific evidence to answer questions or to support their findings.



Websites for investigation ideas: