St Teresa's Catholic Primary School


Clairmont Road, Colchester, Essex, CO3 9BE


After 12 weeks we dug up the items we had buried at the beginning of the STEM topic.  We readily found the plastic and polystyrene and although we found paper, it had broken into little bits and was quite wet.  The things we didn’t find were the food waste – peppers, apple cores or tea bags.  What we did find, however, was a banana skin in the advance stages of decomposition.  It was very black and very slimy!  We had proved that plastic will not decompose at the same rate as vegetable or fruit products. 

A big WELL DONE to the Year 4 Off By Heart poetry finalists who all did a brilliant job of reciting their poems.  They were clear, used great expression and actions to convey the meaning behind the poem.  It is never easy to perform by yourself in front of 220 people but they all did so very well, we are very proud of them!  

Year 4 have been enjoying learning to play chess this term.  Our mini tournament saw Kaya as the winner with four runners up.  We will start again next term when we will all learn to use clocks.  

Charlotte from Essex Wildlife Trust came to visit today with the 'plasticology' workshop.  We were able to show and share our learning about this topic with her.  As part of the workshop we sorted different rubbish into buckets - all the things that could be separated and recycled from those things which could not.  We learned about the different plastic codes and how not all plastic is recyclable.  We know that it is better to reduce our plastic use, then reuse it wherever possible before recycling.  We considered the use of reusable plastic (like sandwich boxes and drinks bottles).  We discussed microplastics and how these are  mistakenly eaten by species because they think it is food.  Sometimes their stomachs are so full of discarded plastic waste that it is impossible for them to eat, so they die.  It was a very interesting afternoon.  

We concluded our science investigation - "does acid affect a shell?".  Having placed our shells into different acids, we left them for a week to find varying states of decay.  Some had discoloured, some had started to break down into smaller particles and others had completely disappeared, leaving behind a "milky" substance.    We also looked at the starfish which had been in vinegar, this was very spongy!

Today, for World Book Day, Year 4 completed several different English based activities.  Our first activity was to complete an English mystery "who had stolen the Emoji's colour?"   By answering English based questions we were able to find out who had stolen the Emoji's colour.  Then, using our play, The Selfish Giant, we created four scenes which would tell the story.  We took photos of these and tomorrow we will turn them into a little animation using ICT.  Finally, we painted clam shells to show the cover of our favourite book.   

Today we visited Sainsbury's at Tollgate.  We chatted to Linda on the fish counter about the different fish they have there, and how it gets from the sea to the shop.  We also looked around the store looking for different types of fish and different methods of packing (in the chiller, frozen or tinned).  Some fish was in sauce.  We also saw a tin of cod roe!!  We saw that many of the products displayed the MSC label, as well as  being dolphin friendly, line caught, RSPCA and ASC accredited.  

Here is some of the plastic that we found on the 'beach'.  Most of these items had been washed up, discarded or had been blown into the foliage further ashore.  The glass bottles and cans were recycled separately.  

Year 4 visited West Mersea where we took part in several different activities.  We took a trip on the Lady Grace Boat around the harbour identifying different sea birds and thinking about their part in our current topic of plastic pollution in the oceans.  We also talked about the wind turbines versus nuclear power, how our activities may impact on marine life when we go crabbing or sailing.  We talked about the local industry of the oyster beds.  Meanwhile, on the beach we investigated our finds from the experiment we conducted on the boat, did a beach clean and sketched some of the local scenes.   We were blessed with a lovely calm day weather wise so we all had an amazing time. Thank you to all our helpers.  

We went into the science garden to find living and once living specimens.  We aimed to collect 10 different things and then back in the classroom we classified our finds with a partner.   After that we joined with two other groups to re-classify our specimens.  

Today Year 4 began their chess tuition.  Although some of the children could already play chess, Mr Lewis explained that we would start at the very beginning so that everyone could learn and improve the strategy of their game.  Today we played pawn chess taking it in turns to be black or white.  We learned how the pawn could move, how it could capture other pieces and some strategies that would enable the piece to help in the victory of the game.  

We looked at different species found in the ocean and tried to classify them.  We were then given additional species and then had to decide whether they fitted into our classification system or whether we needed to re-classify based on characteristics of the new species.  We learned that Carl Linneaus was the first person to use the classification system but even now scientist still disagree on where some species fit.  We also found out that when new species are discovered sometimes sub sections are created.  

Today we had a visit from the Two Johns, who came to talk to Year 3 and Year 4 about e-safety.  We thought about different sites, games and apps we may use, and how to stay safe on them, by changing our settings to private.  We learned that if and/or when we saw something which made us feel uncomfortable, or someone asked us to do something inappropriate we should be able to tell our parents or a trusted adult.

We did some Christmas cooking today.  In groups we made mince pies and cheese festive shapes.  We practised our rolling out skills making sure that the pastry wasn't too thin or too fat.  

We have continued to be inspired by the work of James Dodds and today made a start on transferring our initial sketches onto lino so that they could be printed.  We found that it was incredibly difficult, much harder than we thought it would be and now understood why our original drawings had to focus on straight lines!  We used new tools and techniques which made our hands ache and sometimes we tried to gouge too deeply which didn't work so well.  We learned that we needed to hold the tool like an ice cream scoop.  We will continue this tomorrow and hope that everyone will get to print their work.    

Today we had Richard visit us from Anglian Water.  We amazed him with our knowledge of the water cycle, using the correct vocabulary, and we then learned about how water is recycled from our homes.  We 'made' sewage, working our way around the house, upstairs (the bathroom) and downstairs (the kitchen) and then watched a video about how the water goes through several processes to make it potable once again.  We even got to look at several different 'good' bacteria which help clean the water - leaving the sewage for use by the farmers as fertilizer.  It was a really great afternoon.  

As part of the Christmas Tree Festival held at Lion Walk church, Year 4 made 'soldiers' from the Nutcracker out of balsa wood.  We carefully measured and then cut out the shape, finally decorating the soldier.   Then we returned to our sewing skills and made stuffed Christmas Trees to hang on our own Christmas trees at home.  Thank you Mrs Harrison and Mrs Palmer for sewing the ribbons on!

Our final trip to Loganberry Lodge this term saw the children and residents being entertained by the Ukelele band.  The children chatted to the residents and joined in with the percussion instruments.  Everyone had a lovely time.  

We investigated what temperatures caused substances to melt or solidify.  

Each week a different group has made 'honey and apricot tagine'.  The children have chopped, peeled and made a sauce and the couscous to accompany the dish.  After cooking, the children have evaluated their dish based on its appearance, smell and taste and how easy it was to make.  Thank you to our parents for helping support this part of the curriculum.  

As part of our RE in the community, Year 4  visited the residents of Loganberry Lodge across four consecutive weeks, with a different house visiting each week.  They played games, talked to and coloured with the older generation.  Everyone seemed to have a really great time talking about Christmas, things that they liked and their families.  This week at Loganberry Lodge the children and residents made Christmas decorations.  Each week the groups have visited different 'lounges' so that in turn, all the residents would get an opportunity to interact with the children.  The children have been a real credit to themselves, the school and their families in the way that they have conducted themselves and chatted with the residents.  As ever, thank you to our parent helpers for walking with us.  

Today, after watching an episode of Dad's Army, we made our own poppies from which we created our class wreath.  We recapped our learning about World War I from yesterday and then made our own versions of the 'There But Not There' statuettes.  Using some of the images from the BBC war website as inspiration, we created our own paintings but only using black and white, and whatever shades of grey we could make.  

We spent the morning with Dan Shadrake who told us all about life 100 years ago, what we would have been doing, eating and seeing.  We then thought about how the Great War began, we played different countries by wearing an appropriate hat!   We then learned about the weapons and life as a soldier.  Dan told us about the inventions that came as a result of the war – like the mobile phone and how dissimilar it was to the “mobile phone” of 1914.  We took part in a quiz thinking about the women of the war, food, weapons and life on the battlefield.  After we listened to some music which had been composed following the war, a result of the images seen by the soldiers.  We then got to handle many of the artefacts, some of which were over 100 years old. 

We visited Daws Hall on a glorious autumn day.  Amy started the day with an orienteering activity, still using compasses but in a different way to last year.  Some of us found lots of the clues, but we didn’t have time to find them all. 

 Then we went into the brook, which was a tributary of the River Stour, to measure its depth, width and speed of flow.  We took three readings to create an average. 

 After lunch we did some kick sampling to find invertebrates in the water.  By knowing what lived there we were able to work out how clean the water was.  We found a range of species.  We also tested the temperature of the water from the brook, its pH balance, is salinity and its clearness.  We compared this data with the same experiments conducted in the main river.  We concluded that they were very similar except that the brook contained more salt. 

 We also found a slow worm and found out that it wasn’t a worm at all but a different form of lizard that had evolved to have no legs. 

 Thank you to our parent helpers. 

Today, we made predictions as to whether our materials would allow electricity to pass through our circuit and therefore light up the bulb.  First we created a simple circuit to test that the bulb worked and then worked scientifically to test each material in turn.  Some children discovered that not all materials were as they seemed and that some metals acted as better conductors than others. 

We made electrical circuits by following the symbols for each component.  Our investigation gave us opportunity to find out if the bulb would light.  We found that the circuit had to be complete for the bulb to light up.