Year 6 science: what your child learns

Signpost with scientific questions on it
Your guide to what your child’s year 6 teacher will cover in science lessons.

This is the final year of the Key Stage 2 science curriculum and the main areas are still:

  • Life processes and living things
  • Materials and their properties
  • Physical processes

Year 6 will be studying topics from the list below, possibly for the first time. However, they may also be returning to a topic to study it in greater detail, or as revision in preparation for testing. Science is a practical subject so the children will learn about health and safety risks as they conduct experiments, and there is also a focus on developing  their skills of ‘scientific enquiry’ which includes the two main areas:

Ideas and evidence

  • Explaining how living and non-living things work
  • Thinking about the links between cause and effect
  • The importance of testing ideas using evidence

Investigative skills

  • Planning
  • Obtaining and presenting evidence
  • Drawing conclusions and explaining results

Science in Year 6 – what your child will learn:

Life processes and living things

Humans and other animals

  • Nutrition: why we need food and a healthy diet
  • Care of our teeth
  • Circulation: how the heart pumps blood around our bodies; how exercise affects our pulse rate
  • Movement: how our skeleton and muscles help us and some animals to move
  • Growth and reproduction: the human life cycle
  • Health: the importance of exercise; harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco and drugs

Life processes and living things

Green plants

  • How growth is affected by light, air, water and temperature
  • What roots do
  • How leaves help a plant to grow
  • Parts of a flower
  • Life cycle: pollination; seed formation and dispersal; germination
  • Identification and grouping of plants and animals
  • Living things in their environment: how plants and animals adapt to their habitat; food chains; micro-organisms

Materials and their properties

  • Comparing materials according to various criteria
  • Thermal insulators
  • Electrical conductors
  • Rocks and soils
  • Differences between solids, liquids and gases
  • Changes to materials when they are mixed, heated or cooled
  • Temperature
  • Evaporation and condensation
  • How to separate particles, for example, by sieving or filtering

Physical processes

Electricity

  • Building a simple circuit
  • How to make a light dimmer or brighter
  • Drawing a circuit

Forces and motion

  • Magnets
  • Gravity
  • Friction
  • Pushing and pulling
  • How to measure force

Light and sound

  • Properties of light, including reflection and shadow
  • How we need light to see
  • Sound and vibration
  • Pitch and volume

Sun, Earth and moon

  • Day and night
  • How the sun moves
  • Orbits of the Earth and moon

Try this at home

  • Growing plants from seed is always fun – try growing cress on cotton wool to get a good look at germination. It should grow in a week so results are fast; also try putting some a different batch in a dark place and see what happens
  • Show your child how their pulse rate changes after exercise by taking their pulse, asking them to run around the garden, jump up and down or dance around the living room and then taking it again.
  • If your child has a magnifying glass or microscope, go on a nature walk and encourage them to look at different plants and flowers
  • Look at the sky at bedtime, and point out how the moon changes shape as it orbits the Earth
  • If you see a sundial, explain how the sun and shadow can be used to tell the time
  • Make potions together in the kitchen from edible ingredients such as coffee, sugar, flour and salt (no cleaning products!) and see which dissolve in water

Make Year 6 science revision fun with some hands-on experiments – look through our Year 6 science worksheets for ideas and projects. KS2 SATs science papers can offer useful revision activities too.