National Curriculum for Year 6

Living Things and their Habitats:  

  • describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to common observable characteristics and based on similarities and differences, including microorganisms, plants and animals  

  • give reasons for classifying plants and animals based on specific characteristics.

Animals including humans:

  • identify and name the main parts of the human circulatory system, and describe the functions of the heart, blood vessels and blood  

  • recognise the impact of diet, exercise, drugs and lifestyle on the way their bodies function  

  • describe the ways in which nutrients and water are transported within animals, including humans..

Evolution and Inheritance:

  • recognise that living things have changed over time and that fossils provide information about living things that inhabited the Earth millions of years ago  

  • recognise that living things produce offspring of the same kind, but normally offspring vary and are not identical to their parents  

  • identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in different ways and that adaptation may lead to evolution


  • recognise that light appears to travel in straight lines  

  • use the idea that light travels in straight lines to explain that objects are seen because they give out or reflect light into the eye  

  • explain that we see things because light travels from light sources to our eyes or from light sources to objects and then to our eyes  

  • use the idea that light travels in straight lines to explain why shadows have the same shape as the objects that cast them.


  • associate the brightness of a lamp or the volume of a buzzer with the number and voltage of cells used in the circuit  

  • compare and give reasons for variations in how components function, including the brightness of bulbs, the loudness of buzzers and the on/off position of switches  

  • use recognised symbols when representing a simple circuit in a diagram.


Home challenge ideas:

Living Things and their Habitats

The identification charts from Gatekeeper, the identikit from the Great Plant Hunt website (free) and the identification charts from OPAL (free) are useful for you and the children.




Classification – How can we classify trees?

Allow the children to go outside and visit different species of tree that you have already marked. Ask them to find features that are different on different trees.

Ask them to look carefully at the leaves. How many different shapes can they find?

Challenge the children to draw the shape of a leaf from each tree. Ask them to use secondary sources to identify the trees

Classification – How can we classify birds?

The following video shows how some people can recognise the species of bird through their songs. http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/how-to-identify-birds-from-their-songs/3012.html

Using binoculars the children could try to identify different birds; describing their shape, colour, beak shape, noise they make, how they fly, etc. The following video is an introduction to birds of prey: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningzone/clips/an-introduction-to-birds-of-prey/4161.html

The children could try to create their own classification key for 5 or 6 of the birds that they have found.

Survey over time – Which fungi can you identify during the year?

Fungi can be found throughout the year. Be ready to take advantage of any sightings. 

Use ID charts like the ones from Gatekeeper and the FSC to identify the find.


Challenge the children to find 5 or 6 different flowers. 

Ask then to identify several features of a flower that makes it different from another. 

They might identify: colour, number of petals, shape of petals, size of petals and number of stamen. 

Ask them to record their observations about each of the plants; ensure they make notes about the number of petals, length of petals, etc.

Survey – Can we find examples of plants from the different plant groups?

Plant groups

Introduce children to the groups of plants below. How many examples can they find close to their home?

Algae are simple plants that do not have roots, stems or leaves. Most algae live in water.

Mosses and liverworts are plants with very simple leaves or a leaf-like form. Some have root-like structures that help in anchoring the plant.

Ferns are flowering green plants with true roots. Stems and leaves. They produce spores during reproduction.

Seed-bearing plants can be divided into two broad groups, conifers and flowering plants. Conifers produce their seeds in cones. Flowering plants produce seeds protected inside fruits.

Lichens are a special kind of living thing. They are an alga and a fungus living together

Animals including humans 

Modelling - Make a heart – a model of one of the chambers

Fill a jar half full of water.

Cut the neck of the balloon off at the part where it starts to widen into a balloon.

Stretch the balloon over the opening of the jar, pulling it down as tightly as you can.

Carefully use the tip of a skewer to poke two holes in the surface of the balloon. Make them about 2 centimetres apart from each other and near opposite edges of the jar

Stick the long part of a straw into each hole. The straws should fit securely in the holes so no air can get through around the straws.

Slide the uncut end of the balloon neck onto one of the straws and tape it around the straw.

Set your pump in a washing up bowl to catch the pumped water. Bend the straws downward. Gently press in the centre of the stretched balloon and watch what happens to the water in the jar.

Pattern-seeking – Is there a relationship between the type of exercise that you do and the number of heart beats per minute?

The children must plan their own investigation. 

They can decide upon the types of exercise that they will do, how they will measure the number of beats, and they will record their results. 

However, this is a great opportunity for the children to record using a line graph


Modelling the components of blood - Make your own ‘blood’

Provide the children with the following information about the components of blood. They can then create their own models of the blood, carefully trying to get the correct proportions.

1. Red blood cells (red-coloured sweets): 44% of blood volume. Carry oxygen and carbon dioxide around the body. Only live for about 3 months, but are continuously produced in the bone marrow.

2. Plasma (syrup): 55% of blood volume. Syrups, thick, clear, yellowish liquid that carries dissolved food and wastes.

3. White blood cells (white jelly beans or marshmallows): 0.5% of blood volume. Bigger than red blood cells, oddly shaped cells that "eat" bits of old blood cells and attack germs.

4. Platelets (smarties): 0.5% -bits of cells and cytoplasm that help clot your blood.

Interesting Fact: There are 5 million red blood cells, 10 thousand white blood cells, and 250 thousand platelets in a pinhead-size drop of blood.

Adult modeling the function of platelets

Health and safety - This will need to be demonstrated by the adult as it involves boiling water.

1. Heat about 120ml of water until it is boiling.

2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of gelatin

3. Keep stirring until it dissolves – it does tend to stick to the pan.

4. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 15 minutes

5. Add a few drops of red food dye until you get the colouring you would like. These 5 steps will be carried out by the teacher

6. Over the next course of hour it will thicken showing how blood coagulates and sticks together. If you pour it into a clear glass you will see that happen easily.

7. If you take some of the sticky blood out and smear it on greaseproof paper, it will set hard like a scab does!

Research – Why do we need to drink water?



Evolution and Inheritance

Key questions: Are all siblings of living things identical?


Use the website above to look at many different mother animals with their offspring. The children can identify many features that the young have inherited from their parents.

The following short video looks at how particular features of pigeons are passed on through the generations. This was one of Darwin’s main interests.


Children’s own family tree

Using scanned photos of their own family, the children can create their own family tree. 

For each person, they could make any notes next to them about key characteristics: e.g. eye colour, hair colour, height and any other particular characteristics that have been inherited. 

Ask the children to look for any evidence that siblings, although similar, are also different.

Deep thinking time – How are birds suited to survive in the habitat in which they live?

Birds of prey. The following video shows a couple of key feature of birds of prey that help them to survive



Research – How do different animals use camouflage to survive?

Deep thinking time – Which feature of a butterfly makes it good at surviving where it lives?

Children sketch out the life cycle of a butterfly: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and then butterfly. 

Give children the seven life processes headings.(MRS GREN)

Their task is to relate these life processes of the butterfly to the habitat in which it can be found.


Problem solving – How can the detective see over the wall? (Making a periscope)

Set the children the challenge of making a periscope. They will need to place two mirrors in the correct place within a cereal box.

Modelling – How can we show how we see things in a mirror?

Set up a target on the board. Children asked to use light from a torch and a mirror in order for the light beam to hit the target. 

Children could use two mirrors to view a mystery object on the table top from below the table/or try to use mirrors to read a post-it note on their back

Fair-test investigation – Which materials are best at reflecting light?

One way to test this is to place two pieces of card vertically on pieces of blue tac. 

Shine the torch on one of the cards so that the light will be reflected on to the other card. 

Keep moving the card apart until you can no longer see the light reflected on the second card. 

You can measure this distance. Repeat this, but each time connects a different material to the first card.

Explore – Make a kaleidoscope

Fold up a sheet of mirror card to make a triangular prism (mirrors facing in). Make a triangular pocket from the corner of a transparent food bag. 

Put sparkly shapes inside the plastic triangle.

Seal the edge of the pocket with stick tape and attach it to one end of the mirror tube.

Problem-solving – Make a stained-glass window

Challenge the children to make stained glass windows. 

Define your success criteria: e.g. all panels must let light through, but the panels at the top should let through the most, and this should decrease the lower down the window one goes.


Match electrical symbols to their components

Create free account

to access https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/electricity-components-and-symbols-revision-3004745

Game – Why bother repeating?

Provide children with following statements about why we might take repeated measurements in an investigation. 

They must first decide which ones are incorrect, and place these to one side. 

They could then decide if any of the remaining statements are more important than others.

Correct ones:

 Because the first reading might not be right

Because readings can be different

Because things might be a little different, so we will need an average

Because we need to check our results

Because we need more evidence


Incorrect ones:

Because we need to make the test fair

Because we need to measure accurately

Because we need to all have a go

Drama/modelling - Using drama 

Give each child a rope (around 3 metres in length) and inform them that this is to represent the travelling ‘electricity’. 

Give two t-shirts that must be worn by different members of the family. 

On one bib should be a picture of a bulb, and on the other, a picture of a 1.5V battery. 

Children can represent the circuit with bulb lighting using these resources. 




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: