You are here: Home > Curriculum > Year 1

Welcome to Year 1

Allotment 1

Teaching team:

Year 1 is led by Peter Burge, Louise Joll and Chrissie Warman.

Year 1 aims and ethos

Year 1 is a significant year at school as children move from the Early Learning Goals of Nursery and Reception to the National Curriculum. We are committed to making this transition as easy as possible. In the Autumn term we continue with a play-based approach to learning, alongside short whole-class daily Phonics, Maths and Literacy teaching, supported by related, themed activities that children can explore independently.  Just as in Reception, our Year 1 classrooms have role-play areas, art and DT areas, writing areas and cosy book corners. During the Spring Term the classroom environment evolves to resemble more closely the learning experience of Key Stage 1, ensuring that the children leave year 1 confident, happy and independent.

With direct access to both an outdoor play area and the PeaceGarden, the children have lots of opportunities to learn and play outside. The ForestSchool experience that the children will have had in Reception continues throughout Year 1. Our regular visits to the woods develop the children’s confidence, creativity, independence and self-esteem.  They allow the children to experience a sense of freedom and embed their appreciation and love of nature and the outdoors. Forest School is also a wonderful opportunity for us to enhance the children’s learning in the classroom. What better way to enjoy and engage with stories like We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel and The Minpins, than by being in the woods. We squelch in the mud, wade through streams, clamber over and under fallen tree trunks. We discover bear tracks, look out for the big bad wolf and make wolf traps, make homes for the three little pigs and rebuild tiny houses for the Minpins.

In Maths, we continue to develop the children’s understanding of numbers, especially place value, and early calculation. This is achieved with an emphasis on learning through experience and use of games, problem-solving challenges and lots of hands on activities and equipment.

In Literacy we provide lots of opportunities for speaking and listening and role-play to support the children’s writing. The writing activities always relate to out topic and over the year, the children will explore writing in lots of different genres; labels and lists, instructions, poetry, recounts and narrative story writing.

Both year 1 classes perform two assemblies, with every child getting involved, making props, costumes and scenery, learning lines, speaking clearly, and performing and singing on stage to the whole school. Class assemblies are a celebration of all that the children have learnt in their topic and they are always an extremely memorable experience for children and parents.

Our Year 1 Topics

Autumn 1 The World of Our Senses

Our year begins with The World of Our Senses. It is a perfect topic for enabling the children to make a smooth transition from Reception into Year 1. Using the story We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, the children are able to continue learning in a way that is familiar to them from Reception. The text is ideal for allowing the children to learn, explore concepts and develop ideas through multi-sensory experiences. Just like the family in the story, the children squelch in mud and splosh through puddles. We go on our own bear hunts in Highgate Woods, work together to make a bear cave in the PeaceGarden, create soundscapes with voice and instruments and create a large whole-class collage to represent every environment in the story.

The children love the patterned language in the story and it inspires them to create their own small group versions, which they always enjoy rehearsing, reenacting and performing to the rest of the class. We often have fabulous renditions of We’re Going on a Dragon Hunt, a Yeti Hunt, a Fairy Hunt and a Goblin Hunt using imaginative and descriptive language and onomatopoeic words.

The children have lots of opportunities to explore their senses further in our dark tent, through taste and smell tests and experiments with ice. At the end of term, the children plan a tea party and bring their own bears in to school for the day.

Autumn 2 Celebrations

The second half of the Autumn term is full of celebrations; Harvest, Hallowe’en, Diwali, Bonfire Night, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Eid and Christmas.

We begin with Bonfire Night, looking at its history, learning about Guy Fawkes, making a guy and having a bonfire with fireworks, marshmallows and hot dogs and end with a Christmas party, food and traditional games. We find out about all the different celebrations and explore what they all have in common – family, food, music and lights. Parents come into the classroom to explain more about the festivals, bring in traditional food and even teach us special games, songs or dances.

In Literacy we explore poetry, with the children producing some stunning and beautiful firework poetry of their own. We also read lots of stories about festivals, celebrations and parties. The wonderfully written and gorgeously illustrated book So Much by Trish Cooke, about a British Caribbean family’s surprise birthday party for Daddy, told through the eyes of a toddler, enthralled the children last year. They learnt the text off by heart, role played being different characters in the stories and finally imagined they were a guest at the party and wrote a new page for the book, following the patterns in the text.

In Forest School we make picture frames for family photographs and find and decorate sticks to make a set of pick up sticks to play with at our end of term party.

Spring 1 Toys

After the Christmas break, our topic is Toys. We enjoy finding out about the history of toys and particularly love William setting up his old train set for us in the classroom. We spend a day at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, comparing old and new toys and hunting for all the characters in the brilliant book, Lost in the Museum by David Lucas. We all know how it feels to lose a special teddy or toy and can identify with how the children feel in the book Dogger when Dogger is lost. The class teddies quite often go missing at this time of year, but so far, after a few days and lots of Lost posters pinned around school, they have always been found. This year both Maurice the monkey and Jack the rabbit were found in the Peace Garden, the year before they were found climbing the bars in the gym and one year Jack was even discovered inside the piano in the hall.

We also read the lovely book While You Were Sleeping and imagine what our toys get up while we are asleep (lots of biscuit easting, bouncing on our beds and playing on computers). Both classes perform whole -school assemblies this half term with every child singing, speaking, dancing and acting in front of an audience of almost 500 people! Last Year ISL put on a lovely and very entertaining version of That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown and IKI gave a beautiful performance of While You Were Sleeping, where teddy bears, dolls, robots and animals came to life at bed time.

To complete the topic we follow instructions to make kites, learn the song ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ and fly them on a blustery and sunny afternoon on Hampstead Heath. The view of The Shard glittering in the distance is a fitting introduction to our next topic, Amazing Architects.

Spring 2 Amazing Architects

In the second half of the Spring Term we become Amazing Architects, exploring architecture through traditional tales, science investigations, art, DT and history and geography. The topic begins with an in-day building challenge where we read the traditional tale The Three Little Pigs and then take part in a science investigation to predict and test the best building materials to protect the Three Little Pigs from The Big Bad Wolf.

Trips include a local excursion along North Hill to look at and discuss different buildings we see along the way and their architectural features. We also visit the architecturally acclaimed ‘Highpoint’ in Highgate village, use rulers and tracing paper to produce careful architectural drawings and research the architect, Berthold Lubetkin.

Our celebration of architecture continues with our Inspire event where parents and children work together to show just how creative they can be with cardboard boxes, glue and yogurt pots. The results are always stunning! In recent years we have had different types of homes, from igloos to lighthouses to houseboats to exhibit. This year we made iconic buildings from around the world including The Eiffel Tower, The Taj Mahal, The Shard, The Sydney Opera House, Wembley Stadium and Big Ben.

In literacy we enjoy a range of traditional tales with a ‘homes’ theme; Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood and then fantasy adventure stories.  Inspired by Roald Dahl’s wonderful book, The Minpins, we write adventure stories about being chased through the woods by a monster and, just in time, being rescued by the tiny folk who live in trees.

Our regular Forest School sessions are woven into the topic and spark the children’s imaginations. We make homes for the three little pigs, imagine we’re Little Red Riding Hood walking through the forest and later, find a note from the Minpins asking us to help them. Their homes have been destroyed by the evil, fire-breathing Gruncher and they need the children to rebuild their tiny houses for them. This year the children not only made homes for the Minpins but a school, a track and a car park, a playground for the Minpin children and tiny bows and arrows to protect them. Beds were given feather blankets and little acorn bowls of ‘hot chocolate soup’ and biscuit crumbs were left inside their houses in case they were hungry. This fantastic topic ends with a den-building day and Easter egg hunt in the woods.

Summer 1 Butterflies and Bees

This half term we learn all about Flowers and Insects, both in the classroom out and about in the Peace Garden and on the school allotment. We begin with an exciting visit from a real Beeman to learn all about bees, try on a beekeeping suit and find out what a smoker is. We learn to use non-fiction books and the Internet to answer all of our questions to become bee experts. Do you know why Antarctica is the only continent without bees? How many times does a bee flap its wings a second? What happens if there are two queen bees in a colony? All year 1 children know the answers to these questions – and much more- at the end of this topic. We look carefully at the anatomy of a bee, sketching and labelling diagrams, explore the interdependent relationship between bees and flowers – and write our very own Bee Books.

After this we focus on the life cycle of a butterfly, with a trip to Butterfly World. The children’s recounts of the trip reveal how much they learn – and how fantastic the adventure playground is. We also hatch our very own caterpillar eggs in the classroom to see close-up the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly.

Insect hunts in our school allotment are an exciting memorable and invaluable learning experience bringing everything we learn about in this topic to life.

This is also the half term when both Year 1 classes prepare, rehearse and perform their second whole school assembly. This year 1SL treated us to a celebration of garden insects and the important roles they have in a garden, and IKI put on a colourful adaptation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, called The Very Curious Caterpillar where the children were able to show off all the amazing facts they had learnt about butterflies, bees and other insects.

Summer 2 Our Allotment

We have added a new topic to the Highgate Primary Curriculum this year, as a result of our new school allotment just around the corner from school. The children will have a very hands-on experience of learning this half term, planting, watering and weeding plants in the raised beds that have been built by a team of parents and school staff and conducting scientific enquiries on the best conditions for seed germination and for plants to thrive.

We will find out about different parts of the world and their climate, to discover what grows well in other countries. On our trip to Kew Gardens we will be able to explore this further in the tropical plant houses.

The books Eddie’s Garden and Handa’s Surprise fit perfectly into this topic, depicting life in England and Kenya and will be the stimulus for some wonderful writing from the children.

In art we will be inspired by Georgia O’Keefe and Van Gogh’s paintings of poppies and sunflowers and we will also use what we grow on the allotment to create our own still life drawings.

Finally, we visit a Farmers’ Market, harvest some of our own produce and prepare a celebratory end of year feast to enjoy in the sunshine.