Welcome to Year 4! We’re all eager to get this year off to a flying start, and very excited just to think of some of the fantastic things we’re going to be able to learn together! Let’s take a quick look at what the curriculum will cover during these first weeks back:
This half term the children will be learning about Robin Hood, and what makes a story be classified as a legend or myth. These tales will serve to give the children an insight into classical story structure and common character types, but will also introduce them to an important British cultural icon, the historical backdrop of the 1100s, and how ethical issues can be presented through storytelling. There will also be a focus on imaginative, descriptive writing - particularly for settings – which these old stories lend themselves to.
Later, we’ll be looking at ways of reporting events, from newspaper articles to diary entries, and the ways that writing has to be formatted for each of these different approaches. Pupils will have the opportunity to recount their own experiences, but we’ll be reading texts Jacqueline Wilson’s acclaimed children’s novel Wave Me Goodbye to provide fictitious situations for them to present in this way as well.
We’ll be starting off the first term with a strong focus on place value, written arithmetic, and word problems. Number work is, of course, the most important aspect of mathematics and the foundation that the pupils’ understanding of most other units will rest upon, so we want to make sure that all pupils are as confident with it as possible before moving on to other areas. It will also receive a lot of further coverage throughout the year. We’ll begin by recapping and building on the children’s knowledge of place value columns and how manipulate numbers within them, before moving onto the Year 4 written addition and subtraction methods. Please ensure that when children are working from home, they continue to use the written methods taught in school - set out in the same way they’ve learnt in class - as learning multiple techniques simultaneously can lead to confusion.
Login details for Times Table Rockstars will be given out at the start of the year and it’s extremely important that all children practise their multiplication skills on this site every day for at least 12 minutes. Each child will have their TTRS account tuned to their current ability level, helping them progress in the areas they need to and at a speed they’re capable of.
This term our science units will be based around living things. We’ll first be looking at ways to identify whether something is living or otherwise (considering factors like movement, respiration, sensitivity to its environment, growth, reproduction, excretion and a need for nourishment) and how organisms can be categorised. We’ll then move onto learning about what happens when animals eat and why nourishment is required.
In Year 4 we will be learning about the Romans. The pupils will be able to learn about how the Roman Empire fits into European history (particularly their occupation of Britain); what the empire achieved; the technological and scientific advances they brought to the word; what everyday life in Roman towns was like; and the cultural impact of their activities that’s still evident today. The children will also have the opportunity to compare life today with Roman times, and learn a little about the pre-Roman Celtic culture that existed in Britain before their arrival.
Throughout the year the children will be practising with various art media, techniques, and styles. They’ll also be looking in detail at the work of a few important artists. This first term, we’re going to start with the famous local artist, LS Lowry. Lowry’s work is famous for its simplistic yet detailed style, and for its depictions of industrial Salford in the early to mid 1900s.
In DT, the children will be designing and crafting money containers, considering and testing different materials and shapes to make something both practical and decorative.
Both classes will have PE twice a week (with a focus on gymnastics and hockey during this first half term). It’s essential that your child always has their kit in school, and we recommend leaving it on the premises – only taking it home during the half-term breaks for cleaning. It’s also important that your child has the correct St. Luke’s kit: a plain, white t-shirt; black shorts or knee-length leggings; and black pumps or trainers.
Literacy and numeracy homework will be given out each Friday. Please make sure that it is completed and returned to school on the following Monday, as children who do not hand it in on time will be asked to redo it in their free time. In addition to this, children will have weekly spellings which must be learnt for a test the following week.
Please read at home daily with your child (for about 15-20 minutes each night) and sign their reading record. To help them learn and pick up speed with their times tables, all children will be given a Times Table Rockstars login, which they should use to practise their tables for about 12 minutes each day.
So what are Times Table Rock Stars, Purple Mash and Class Dojo? Put simply, they are three online tools which we use to help us teach the children, both in and outside of school.
Times Table Rock Stars
Times Table Rock Stars (sometimes abbreviated as TTRS) helps the children with their times tables. Multiplication skills are extremely important at this age, and children need to not only be able to work out times tables, but know them by heart and be able to answer them quickly. Children who struggle with their tables will have a lot of difficulty doing multiplication and division problems with larger numbers in maths lessons, and will struggle with the government-sent Year 4 tables tests they’ll have to do later in the year. TTRS gives them simple games to practise their times tables, and the opportunity to earn “coins” which they can spend on decorating their avatar.
What do you have to do? Children should be logging on to TTRS every day and practising the multiplication games for at least 12 minutes. It’s not a lot of time, but if they do it daily it will have a massive impact. All children will have log in details given to them in the first couple of weeks back at school. After going to the TTRS website at https://ttrockstars.com/ go to LOGIN on the top menu and select SCHOOL PUPILS. Before your child can enter their details, you’ll need to find our school by entering its postcode: M124NG (This is better than typing “St. Luke’s” as there are several other schools around the country with that name.) Once you’ve done this, they’ll be asked for their username and password. Note: It is VERY important that the children do not give their login details to anyone else, or leave them around carelessly where someone else could see them. We do not want other children playing the games under the wring account, as this will affect our assessment of their abilities. We also do not want anyone else going into the TTRS store and spending coins earned by the user.
Class Dojo is an online tool which works almost as a small social media platform for the class. Teachers can post information on it, or set work for the children to do at home. There is a feed, called CLASS STORY, where information for everyone to see can be put up, and a private messaging function where parents or pupils can contact the teacher directly (and without other users seeing) to ask questions. Work is set to individual children, with instructions attached to it, and children can submit it when it is completed. The app can be installed on your phone and is entirely free. There are options to upgrade to a premium version which allows the children to do things like change the appearance of their avatar, BUT THIS IS NOT AT ALL NECESSARY AND ST. LUKE’S DOES NOT ENCOURAGE PARENTS TO SPEND MONEY IN THIS WAY.
What do you have to do? After installing the Class Dojo app, you’ll get notifications when the teacher posts something on the feed or sets work for your child to complete. (They will also have been told in school to expect it.) Activities vary, and children may be asked to fill in an online sheet, write or draw something and take a picture of it for submission, or film themselves performing something like a poetry or story reading. If you’re using a computer, you can log in at https://www.classdojo.com/en-gb/
Purple Mash is a learning platform we use in school. It has things like maths games, art packages, and coding interfaces built into it for the children to use. We use it a lot in ICT to help the children learn how to program, create digital art or simulations, and even make simple games. The good thing about PM is that it can be used out of school as well. The children will have login details which they can put in on most devices (computers, tablets or phones) at home so that they can practise using the same tools they’re using in ICT! You can find it at https://www.purplemash.com/login/
What things do you and your child need to remember day-to-day?
Uniform & PE Kits
Children should always have the correct uniform for school. The St. Luke’s Uniform consists of a white shirt, blue sweater, fleece or cardigan (sweaters with the school logo on them are available from the school itself, please just ask) grey or black skirts, trousers shorts or pinafores or check dresses. Pupils should wear black shoes, not trainers. More information can be found here: https://stlukes.sites.schooljotter2.com/parent-zone/school-uniform
Your child’s PE kit should stay in school at all times, including weekends. (We recommend that they only bring it home each term break so it can be washed.) For gymnastics and dance, children should wear black shorts and a T-shirt or leotard. For games and athletics, a pair of black shorts, white t-shirt and trainers or pumps may be worn. School P.E. kits are available to purchase from the school office at reasonable prices. It is a very good idea to put your child's name in any clothes worn for school. as most of the clothes are nearly identical, if an item is lost without a name inside it, it is unlikely that it will be recovered.
Reading, Spellings, and Homework
All children will have a reading book which is suited to their current ability, and they should read it for at least 15-20 minutes each night with an adult. When reading, the adult should ask them questions that require literal responses, such as “Why did Molly say she needed a car?” and ones that need the child to infer why something may be the case, such as “Why do you think Ahmed was angry with Tim when he gave him the cake?” Also, children should be encouraged to talk generally about the book they’re reading, perhaps saying whether or not they like it and why, or making predictions about what they think will happen next. Each child will have a reading record book, which can be signed after they have finished, with a comment about their performance. Children should not sign their own reading records. The children also need to make sure that they bring their reading book back into school each day.
Children will be given ten spellings (set to their ability) each week. They have a full week to learn them before they’re tested and receive a new set. These spellings are important to help develop the children’s vocabulary, and they should be encouraged to practise them a little each evening. It is also important that they know the meanings of these words – so that they can use them in their own writing and speech – and have practice looking up the definitions of words they’re unfamiliar with, so please ask them to explain what each word means if you think that they may not know.
Children will usually have a piece of literacy and numeracy homework given to them each Friday. They need to make sure that both pieces are complete and ready to be handed in on the following Monday. If your child is struggling with a piece of work, it’s fine to offer assistance, but please only explain or help them enough to get them started, and leave them to complete as much of it themselves as possible.