• Year 3 Curriculum

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Welcome to Year 3

Autumn 1: From Palaeontology to Archaeology

The topic explores the worlds of palaeontology and archaeology, with a focus on dinosaurs and early civilisation. Ever since they were first identified in the 1800s, dinosaurs have sparked the imagination of children and adults alike. Children study the ‘age of dinosaurs’ (the Mesozoic Era) including three consecutive geologic time periods (the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Periods), with a focus on what the earth looked like, what lived at the time and how to identify the different species of dinosaur. The topic has a strong focus on historical skills. Children act as palaeontologists, looking for clues and making deductions, then archaeologists, making deductions about the lives of Stone Age and Iron Age man through the clues from the past.

This topic is one of a series of historical units that places periods of history in the context of time. Children start the topic with some knowledge of dinosaurs and an understanding of the work of archaeologists. They have an awareness of chronological order and the use of dates to establish the relative position of historical periods. The historical skills developed within this unit are used extensively as children study later historical periods, particularly the concepts of change over time, the need to interpret historical sources, and the impact of the past upon the present.


Autumn 2: Chocolate

In this geography based unit, children learn about chocolate; where cocoa beans come from, how they are harvested, and how they are processed into the range of products we see all around us today. Children also develop their knowledge of the rainforest ecosystem, through a study of the Para region of northern Brazil. Para saw a booming cattle ranching culture in the late 1980’s, which had a major effect on the land, as large parts of the Amazon forest were cut down and turned into pasture. Today, farmers in the region see the cocoa crop as a way to bring the land back to life, and protect the Amazon. Children also explore the marketing of chocolate products and have the opportunity to design and make their own box of chocolates, including its packaging and product descriptions.

All children start the topic familiar with chocolate but will be unfamiliar with its production. They will have some understanding of the rainforest ecosystem and some awareness of the environmental impact of deforestation. They build on their knowledge of Brazil acquired when studying Rio de Janeiro in Year 2. Children will start to make connections between consumerism and its impact on the environment, a topic they return to in more detail in Year 5.


Spring 1: The Treasures of Ancient Egypt

This topic explores the civilisation of Ancient Egypt. Within the topic, children learn about the discoveries of Howard Carter and investigate a wide range of artefacts, considering what each reveals about Egyptian society. Children learn about everyday life in Ancient Egypt, the organisation of society under the pharaoh and consider the Ancient Egyptian views on life, death and the afterlife. The topic introduces children to a range of historic skills, in particular, understanding the work of archaeologists and interpreting the past from artefacts.

 This topic is one of a series of historical units within the Highgate Primary Curriculum that places periods of history in the context of time. Children start the topic familiar with both the Stone Age and Iron Age through the topic ‘From Palaeontology to Archaeology’. Children also have an understanding of how artefacts can give us an understanding of the past through the unit ‘The Great Fire of London’ in Year 2. Children’s understanding of chronology will develop as they move on to study other civilisations in Year 4, including Ancient Greece and the Roman invasion of Britain.


Spring 2: Race to the South Pole

This topic investigates the unique geographical features of Polar Regions through the study of polar exploration. It looks at the exploits of polar explorers (Amundsen, Scott and Shackleton) and the insight gained through their endeavours – and considers the ways in which their findings have been recorded. The topic teaches children the skills of recording their own findings through photography, detailed drawings and recounts, including diaries. World maps and mapping skills are developed, including how different projections of the world can give different perspectives. The topic has a strong focus on science including the range of forces at play within polar exploration, including magnetism; and geography: polar climate; glaciers and the impact of global warming.

Children start the topic being familiar with the idea of exploration gained through the topics Explorers and Adventurers in Reception and Transport in Year 2. They have an understanding of Polar climate through the Year 1 topic Whatever the Weather and have some understanding of the impact of climate change on our ice caps. The knowledge and skills gained within this topic will prepare the children for learning about a wider range of forces in the Year 4 and 5 topics, Flight and Our Place in Space. The study of polar animal adaptation supports work in Year 5 on living things in their habitats, while the theme of human impact on the environment is further developed in Year 5’s topic ‘What Price Progress’. The mapping skills practised in this topic will support future work throughout the rest of Key Stage 2, especially within the A Village School topic in Year 5.


Summer 1: From Source to Sea

This unit has a strong geography focus within which children explore the geographical features of rivers, understanding the impact they have on the surrounding landscape. Children learn about the water cycle and write an explanation text describing the processes involved. Children discover how water is represented in music and art.

Children start the topic with some knowledge of rivers, and many will have some familiarity with the River Thames, but watercourses in our local area have almost all been diverted underground and so do not form part of the children’s day-to-day experience. The fieldwork involved in the topic prepares children for more in-depth studies of the local area in Year 5 and the Brecon Beacons in Year 6.

This topic introduces children to the role of physical processes in shaping landscapes, an area which they explore in different contexts in Year 4’s topic, Active Planet, and in Year 6’s Pendarren unit.


Sumer 2: Meadowsong

Through the power of song and connected learning, Meadowsong aims to give children the opportunity to support biodiversity in creative and active ways. The Meadowsong project gives children the opportunity to stage a musical performance; plant a mini meadow to help pollinators, and deliver a rich programme of classroom and outdoor learning on this topic. The project, developed by Highgate primary and the RSPB, encourages children across the country to experience the beauty and wonder of the wildflower habitat and its wildlife. Meadowsong aims to deliver transformative learning. The Arts are integral to engaging children in finding their own expression to empathise and actively promote the protection of the natural world. Aligned with Art, Dance and Music national curriculum guidance, the project looks at immersing children in the wonders of this habitat in a way that will fire up their self-expression whilst delivering a creative arts curriculum that has breadth and depth. Through Meadowsong will develop expressive writing in various forms: poetry, prose and factual writing. The six week sequence of lessons provides stimulus and support resources relating to the study of the wildlife that are integral to this ecosystem.

Children will already be familiar with many of the green spaces in our local area, including Highgate Woods, Hampstead Heath, and the school allotment. Through our Forest School programme, they will have had experience of observing natural environments and using them as settings, tools and inspiration for creative learning. This unit’s scientific study of the wildflower meadow, and the plants growing within it, draws on several of the scientific concepts introduced in Key Stage 1: classification (in Flowers and Insects), living vs. non-living, habitats (both in The Animal Kingdom), and growth and life-cycles in Growing Up. It prepares the children for more sophisticated work on habitats in Year 5’s Highgate N6 topic, as well as the study of human growth in A Victorian Education, also in Year 5. The use of outdoor map-work in this unit develops skills first encountered in Year 2, during the Making Things Move transport topic, and prepares the children for more detailed map-making across a range of topics in Upper Key Stage 2.


Year 3 Curriculum by Subject

Maths – Autumn 1, Autumn 2, Spring 1, Spring 2, Summer 1, Summer 2














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