Topics & Resources

Digestion – year 4

My favourite session to teach. The whole digestive process from gum to bum and from chew to poo! I very quickly get into using the scientific vocabulary, but do allow plenty of time for giggling and squirming. This session is always memorable: I promise.

Meet the Model – I take you through the entire digestive process with the help of life-size model torso Nearly Headless Nic. Key scientific vocabulary is displayed as captions.

Hands On – Bite, chew & digest the food in this low-tech practical. Brief instructions appear as captions. Full instructions for teachers/parents are below.

Full Lesson – The two videos edited together, so that you can run this as one continuous session. There’s a bit of explanation, then the related practical, then the next bit of explanation, and so on.

Here’s a selection of pieces of potential follow-up work. They are tailored to fit the curriculum targets of the specified year group, especially the SPAG ones. They all include answers / solutions on the 2nd/final page. They have been created by me, using the font from Twinkl.

Maths – Fractions & decimals, based on the fact that the large intestine is 1.5m long, and converting between cm & m. 6x tables practice, using villi.

SPAG – Spot 15 SPAG errors in the text. Ten sets of homophones (or near homophones) to choose between to complete the sentences.

Spelling patterns – 10 clues to find words containing /sc/ making the /s/ sound, as in science. 7 examples of adding the suffix /ion/ to verbs to make them into nouns, as in digest -> digestion.

Crossword – Bumper crossword for lots of technical vocabulary after you’ve watched the videos. The clues are in different forms: standard ‘clues’, code to break (A=1 B=2 C=3), mixed up letters to unscramble, fill in the words missing from the paragraph, and some words to just fit in & write your own clue. Page 1 is the blank grid. Page 2 has initial letters for a bit of extra help. Solution is on p3.

Wordsearch – ALL the technical vocabulary for after you’ve watched the videos

Do let me have any feedback, comments or corrections, and let me know how you get on. If you’re happy to send me photos, I’ll update this page to share them with others.

DNA, adaptation & evolution – year 6

Discover the structure, function & history of DNA to expand on core content about evolution and adaptation.

An introduction the history of this astounding molecule – What is DNA? How was its structure revealed? Discover the fascinating history of the scientists involved. Video coming soon

Practical – how to extract DNA from a strawberry, kiwi or banana. I take you step-by-step through extracting DNA from 3 different fruits, so that any allergies can be accommodated.

For the adults – detailed instructions and safety notes here.

Here’s a selection of pieces of potential follow-up work. They are tailored to fit the curriculum targets of the specified year group, especially the SPAG ones. They all include answers / solutions on the 2nd/final page where appropriate. They have been created by me, using the font from Twinkl.

Spellings – using prefixes to mean less/under/below (inspired by DEoxyribo …) and using the suffix /tion/ (evolve -> evolution). There isn’t an aswer page for this one as there are hundreds of possible correct words

Reading comprehension – a short piece about the work of Gregor Mendel.

Maths – Work out how many permutations there are for the 4 bases of A, T, C & G. Ratio & fraction questions are based on Mendel’s pea experiments.

Wordsearch – all the names and technical vocabulary to revise here.

Crossword – The clues are in different forms: there’s a code to break (A=1 B=2 C=3), mixed up letters to unscramble, fill in the words missing from the paragraph, and some words to just fit in & write your own clue. Page 1 is the blank grid. Page 2 has initial letters for a bit of extra help. Solution is on p3.

More fun activities here – The Wellcome Genome Campus has instructions for how to make a DNA model from sweets, a lovely bracelet activity bade on real genetic codes, and an origami DNA moledule (it’s a challenge, but worth it!) Link here

Have fun trying all these materials. Do please let me have any feedback, comments or corrections. If you’re happy to send me photos of the practical in action, I’ll share them here.

White jelly-like blobs of tangled DNA collected in a small petri dish, sitting on a bright tablecoth.
DNA from a strawberry

Bath bombs, tablets & sweets – year 5

What do bath bombs, tablets (medicines, not ipads!) and many types of sweets have in common? Well, many of them are made in basically the same way. Dry powdered ingredients are mixed together and a small amount of the active ingredient (scent, medicine or flavour) is added. The mixture is combined with a liquid: just enough to make it stick together but not to make it wet. Then it’s pressed into a mould to make it the right shape. The whole manufacturing process for sweets & medicines is highly automated and utilises many skills, so it’s good for exploring job options, as well as discussing mixtures and reversible/irreversible changes.

Safety Note  The promotion of prescription-only medicines to the public is strictly prohibited in the UK and Europe. Ensure that any examples discussed are ‘Over The Counter’ products only and ones that the pupils are already familiar with, eg children’s vitamin supplements, cold remedies & first aid products. A pupil’s prescription medicine must not be used as an example for others. Include a discussion about medicine safety – the importance of following dosage instructions even on something as common as paracetamol. The safety aspects of medicine packaging should be emphasised – active ingredients, dosage, storage, warnings, expiry dates.

Coming soon – video to explain how to make excellent bath bombs. The video is a 1-person mix that makes two small bombs, but the quantities are easily scaled up to make as gifts or to sell at the summer/Christmas fete.

Further activities

Design TechnologyMake a press

History—British social history

English—writing information texts

SPAG & maths activities to come…

Wordsearch – a huge wordsearch of all the vital vocabulary from this session.

Crossword – Bumper crossword for lots of technical vocabulary after you’ve completed this session. The clues are in different forms: standard ‘clues’, code to break (A=1 B=2 C=3), mixed up letters to unscramble, fill in the words missing from the paragraph, and some words to just fit in & write your own clue. Plus, there’s a bonus word to find. Page 1 is the blank grid. Page 2 has initial letters for a bit of extra help. Solution is on p3.

A tray filled with colourful bath bombs, wrapped in clingfilm.