Y5 & 6 Update

In what feels like the blink of an eye, another term has arrived and passed! We are so happy to have had the opportunity to spend the vast majority of this term onsite, learning and problem solving together or out exploring alternate environments during excursions and camps. The past few weeks have been action-packed, with camp reflections in Year 5, Body-Safe sessions, our Harmony Week picnic, incursions, and Surf Live Saving in Year 6.


Year 5

How much is a million? The provocation has led to a maths inquiry around place value and large numbers in Year 5. Like in Year 6, we also created 10,000 using both MAB and pages from our grid books. After seeing a real-life example of 10,000, we asked, 'what would a million look like?' We read the book 'How Much is a Million?' and learned that it would take approximately 23 days to count to a million! We thought about if there was a million of anything at Penbank. Some of the student's ideas were:

  • Are there more than a million blades of grass?
  • Are there more than a million grains of sand in the sandpit?
  • Are there more than a million strands of hair?

We then followed the theme of the book and did some estimations of our own. We had several provocations around the room, such as 'how many exercise books would it take to cover the Homestead?' and 'how many protein bars would I need to cover a table?' Some students came up with their lines of inquiry, including 'how many Year 5 students lying end on end would it take to complete a lap of the oval?' They estimated and then attempted to find the answer using informal units of measurement. Here are some of our discoveries:

  • It would take approximately 4000 exercise books to cover the Homestead.
  • It would take around 182 protein bars to cover the table.
  • It would take about 184 Year 5 students lying end-on-end to complete a Penbank oval lap.

Year 6  

We know our place value system is a base 10 system, and we know that numbers get ten times larger as they shift place value columns. But sometimes, it can be hard to picture how big a number is and how numbers increase in magnitude. We made a model using the base unit 1cm, with the 1s column being a single cm square. The tens column was 1cm x 10cm in a strip. The 100s column was 10cm x 10cm. We continued to scale our model up until we got to the hundreds of thousands column. 

The kids realised that "it got massive" by the hundreds-of-thousands of centimetres column and the next column, the millions, will be ten times bigger again. It formed the basis of the following inquiry maths challenge. How could we measure and represent 1 million cm2?

Following our Life-Saving Course in Year 6, we also looked at graphs and data from the Royal Life Saving 2019/2020 'National Drowning Report.' The students discussed the data and made many observations, including:

  • 41% of deaths occurred in the summertime, 18% in autumn, 35% in spring, and 6% in winter 
  • The majority of deaths in Australia occurred in rivers/creeks (21%), followed by the ocean (20%)
  • Males make up 77% of drowning deaths in Victoria 
  • NSW had the most drowning deaths last year (89), followed by QLD, VIC, and then WA


In Year 5, our Literacy focus has been on narratives and persuasive texts for writing, where we have explored the written arguments of a piece and the position the writer has taken. These elements of report writing will be revised and included in our projects. We have had fun challenging ourselves writing a variety of 'sizzling starts' for one topic. We will continue developing our vocabulary related to our unit with a focus on affixes and root words.

In Year 6, we have recently focused on procedural writing, reviewing first aid and CPR processes that we explored during our Surf Life Saving course. After reviewing the features of an informative piece, our students drafted, edited, and published a finished article on a topic of personal interest, which they shared at our inquiry showcase.

Learning the rules of spelling is helping us decode more challenging words. Our reading is also part of our project work, emphasising vocabulary specific to comprehension and reading deeply to answer inferential questions.

All Homestead students also participated in a Zoom incursion with the State Library of Victoria over the last fortnight, which gave us great insight into what to look for when researching for information online, locating credible websites, and identifying 'fake news.' 


In Year 5, our Unit of Inquiry, this term is 'Sharing the Planet' with our Central Idea 'Interdependence within ecosystems can be connected to their features.' Through our inquiry sessions, we will be exploring different ecosystems and how animals have adapted to live in a variety of biomes. We will also consider the impact humans have and the solutions and actions we can take. We will also consider local issues like the Arthur's Seat quarry and AGL in Westernport Bay. Several students have already expressed interest in taking action on these issues. The key concepts we will focus on are causation, connection, and function alongside the related - ecosystems, interdependence, biodiversity, and solution. Our approaches to learning will be thinking, social, self-management, and research skills.

In Year 6, we concluded our inquiry focus on 'Who We Are' by sharing our learning with staff and peers. The students spoke exceptionally well, with their explanations demonstrating a genuine interest in their learning and understanding of our inquiry lines. They set up an impressive showcase of their work. Sharing their family history, artefacts of significance, reflecting on what makes them a valued class member, their rights and responsibilities at various local community groups and sports clubs, and what learner profiles they employ in these settings. Check out the attached photos of each student's setup. We also had a thought-provoking incursion with Valanga Khoza, where he shared his own life story, including his experiences with racism and how it felt at times to not belong in his own home country.

We hope all of our families enjoy a lovely relaxing break. We are looking forward to recharging before starting another busy but exciting Term 2.

Happy holidays!