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Year 3 writing overview

The grid below is an overview of the writing units in Year 3. Each unit is driven by an engaging, vocabulary-rich book (or a school trip!) that inspires a wealth of writing opportunities.   Some of these books have strong thematic links to other areas of our curriculum (for example Science, History and Geography). If you would like to see how writing units are mapped across the whole school, please read our 'Whole School Writing Overview' which is available HERE. If you would like to find our more about our writing curriculum, please follow the link to our 'contacts' page and get in touch.

Autumn term Spring term Summer term

Poetry:  Mammoths (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘Mammoths’ by Richard Edwards

Purpose and Audience: create a ‘Mammoths’ poem to be shared with the whole school

Key knowledge and skills:

  • discuss phrases that capture the reader’s imagination
  • rehearse poems for performance
  • assess the effectiveness of writing and suggest improvements

Poetry:  Slowly, Gently, Softly (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘Slowly’ by James Reeves

Purpose and Audience: create an adverb poem and publish it on the school website.

Key knowledge and skills:

  • plan poetry by discussing and recording ideas
  • explore, collect and use a wide variety of adverbs (manner)
  • explore, collect and use a wide variety of verbs

Poetry:  My Colours (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘My colours’ by Colin West

‘Give and take’ by Roger McGough 

Purpose and Audience: explore colours from the natural world, create a colour poem and present as a collage

Key knowledge and skills:

  • use precise nouns and prepositions
  • plan poetry by discussing and recording ideas
  • present poetry in a creative way for an audience to enjoy

Fiction: Stone Age Stories (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Stone Age Boy’ by S. Kitamura and ‘Stig of the dump’ by C. King

Purpose and Audience: create first-person narratives using the patterns and new vocabulary from known stories

Key knowledge and skills:

  • discuss writing similar to that which you are planning to write
  • rehearse co-ordination and subordination from Y2
  • compose sentences orally and in written form

Fiction: Traditional tales 2 - Poland (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘The Dragon of Krakow’ by Richard Monte

Purpose and Audience: create a mini-book to be read aloud to a small group in class and to family

Key knowledge and skills:

  • express time and place using prepositions
  • use a wide variety of adverbs to express time
  • rehearse lists from year 2 - expand the phrases in each ‘sentence of three’

Non-fiction: Volcano wiki (3 weeks)

Stimuli: ‘DK Findout’ and ‘Simple English Wikipedia’ webpages about volcanoes

Purpose and Audience: create an information webpage to contribute to the class wiki – make it available online

Key knowledge and skills:

  • use simple organisational devices
  • begin to understand organisation within a paragraph
  • re-use technical vocabulary linked with geography focus ‘Extreme Earth’

Non-fiction: Stone Age to Iron Age (4 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Stone Age’ by Klint Janulis

Purpose and Audience: write an information page and present information in a way that excites young readers

Key knowledge and skills:

  • organise paragraphs around a theme
  • express time, place and cause using conjunctions and prepositions (non-fiction)
  • present information in different ways

Non-fiction: Why eat healthily? (4 weeks)

Stimuli: Why do we eat? Why shouldn’t I eat junk food? Why bother to keep fit? Usborne books

Purpose and Audience: write a lively explanation about how to keep healthy for a children’s magazine

Key knowledge and skills:

  • retrieve and record information from non-fiction (use contents pages and indexes)
  • learn the conventions of explanation writing (structure, cause and effect)
  • use technical vocabulary learned through science and reading

Fiction: Pugs of the Frozen North (4 weeks)

Stimuli: ‘Pugs of the Frozen North’ by Philip Reeve (and the audio book version)

Purpose and Audience: retell part of a known story from another point of view, and create a diary entry in role

Key knowledge and skills:

  • use a range of sentence openers and conjunctions
  • plan part of a narrative from a different point of view
  • explore the features of diary writing

Poetry: Dragon eats school! (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘The dragon who ate our school’ by Nick Toczek (wks402)

Purpose and Audience: write a new verse for a known poem to be performed to an audience

Key knowledge and skills:

  • use drama approaches to understand how to perform poems
  • read aloud their own writing using appropriate intonation
  • work collaboratively to improve  writing by proposing changes to vocabulary

Non-fiction: Art Exhibition (1 week)

Stimulus: class art trip

Purpose and Audience: write a recount; publish it as a blog on the school website


Key knowledge and skills:

  • use a wide range of subordinating conjunctions
  • continue to express time, place and cause using conjunctions prepositions and adverbs
  • peer assess the effectiveness of others’ writing and suggest improvements

 Poetry: Sounds (1 week)

Stimuli: ‘Sounds of school’ by Michaela Morgan (First Poetry Book p194)

Purpose and Audience: collect sounds from around the school and present them as a poem for the science subject leader

Key knowledge and skills:

  • use new scientific vocabulary in a different context
  • plan poetry through a real life experience
  • explore and collect onomatopoeic words


Fiction: Traditional tales 1 - China (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Lao Lao of Dragon Mountain’ by M. Bateson Hill

Purpose and Audience: create a story to be published as class collection of stories

Key knowledge and skills:

  • continue to refine use of  co-ordination and subordination
  • begin to use inverted commas to punctuate direct speech
  • organise paragraphs around a theme (this time in fiction writing)

Fiction: Step into a painting (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Kate and the Mona Lisa’ by James Mayhew

Purpose and Audience: write a portal story linked with art focus. Read it to a small group.

Key knowledge and skills:

  • begin to choose nouns or pronouns appropriately for clarity and cohesion and to avoid repetition
  • continue to develop confidence with a wide range of conjunctions
  • continue to develop use of inverted commas for direct speech

Non-fiction: Fantastic newspaper reports (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ by Roald Dahl and the film adaptation directed by Wes Anderson

Purpose and Audience: write persuasive letters in role as a character, and create news reports using information from the story.

Key knowledge and skills:

  • write from different points of view
  • explore the features of persuasive writing and newspaper reports
  • draft, extend, edit and improve writing

What writing skills and knowledge do we learn about in Year 3?

Sentence Construction



This can be used before a list.

We will need:
-two eggs
-100g flour
-1 pint of milk

Click here to try a learning activity.

Apostrophe for contractions

A contraction is where two words are shortened into one. When this happens an apostrophe should be used to mark where the missing letters are.

Do not --- Don't
Did not --- Didn't
Should not --- Shouldn't


When using speech there are some important things that you need to remember.

  • Speech marks are used to separate direct speech from the rest of the text. Speech marks can also be used here.

"He's very clever," she boasted.

  • Speech verbs need to be used after the direct speech. These explain how something was said.

"Let me go!" screamed Mary.

  • New line for a new speaker. When writing direct speech you must start a new line every time a new person is speaking.

"Where is she?" questioned Simon.
"That's for me to know and you to find out," teased the stranger.

Use of commas after openers

Commas should be used after: 'ed, ing, ly' starters, sentence openers and to mark dropped in phrases or causes (relative clauses).

Surprisingly, it did not rain.
Before he had time to think, the door swung open and someone knocked him off his feet. 
The young girl, who had long golden hair, was no where to be seen. 

Word Structure and Language

Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

Prepositions are words that describe where things are.

Next to
By the side of
In front of
Because of

A prepositional phrase is a phrase of sentences which includes a preposition. 

I saw a man in front of the shed.
A fox exercise from the side of the road.

During dinner, I felt rather ill. 

Click here to try a learning activity


  • 'Name it' - use specific nouns to create effect

'poodle' in stead of 'dog'

  • Understand collective nouns and use simple nouns accurately in a sentence

a flock of sheep

  • Invent collective nouns

a shaggy field of sheep

  • Use more sophisticated noun phrases

'a horror film' rather than 'a film'

  • Find and invent nouns formed from prefixes

in-  inform     super-  supernatural     re-  recover


A greater range of adjectives should be used:

  • for precision and impact
  • for emphasis (ensuring that the adjectives are chosen carefully)
  • as adjectives of degree to express a simple range of intensity

boiling, warm, tepid, cold, freezing etc...


  • Form adverbs from adjectives using suffixes 

-ly  sadly     completely

  • Use adverbial phrases to say where and how something is happening

at the end of the lane
over the hill

  • Use a range of single adverbs within sentences to show how 

They plodded on silently up the hill.


  • Use powerful verbs

The snake slithered away.

  • Use the past perfect form of verbs to make relationships of time and cause

He has eaten the bones as well, so there is nothing left for anyone else.

  • Use future correctly

will drive to the shops.

  • Use irregular and inflected past tense accurately

She has gone away for a week.

Word families

These are a group of words that are that have links to a common word. 
Children should investigate meanings and spellings of related words by adding suffixes.

help, helps, helped, helper, helping, helpful, helpfulness, helpless, helplessly etc...

National Curriculum Terminology

  • Word family
  • Conjunction
  • Adverb 
  • Preposition
  • Direct speech
  • Inverted commas (or speech marks)
  • Prefix
  • Consonant
  • Vowel
  • Clause
  • Subordinate clause

Text structure

Plan or orally rehearse 

Before writing it is useful for children to plan and/or rehearse what they are going to write out loud. This enables them to have a clear direction of where their writing is heading before they start. It can help children order their thoughts and this allows their thoughts and creativity to flow more freely onto the page. 

Organise material around a theme leading into use of paragraphs

Help children to understand that 'chunking' (see 'chunking' in year 2) related thoughts and ideas into paragraphs helps the reader. A new paragraph suggests a shift to something new or different. 

Adverbials as sentence openers

Children should be using a variety of adverbials as sentence openers (ed-ing-ly).

Bored with waiting, jake wondered off.
Shaking, Jo felt for the switch.
Quietly she crept past the staircase.

Position of adverbials

Children should experiment with the position of adverbials in order to create differing effect. The place of an adverbial can change the meaning and effect of a sentence. 

Slowly, we walked home.
We walked slowly home.
We walked home slowly.


Consolidate and develop the use of connectives for different text types. When writing, children should consider what connectives are appropriate for the type of text that they are writing. 

Tenses and Writing Perspectives

Children should consistently use tenses as well as the first and third person.


Pronouns should be used:

  • to help sentences flow and to join them up coherently
  • understand that nouns and pronouns within sentences must relate to each other clearly
  • understand how over-use of pronouns can confuse readers and lead to ambiguity

Text Organisation

Children should organise their writing by using:

  • headings
  • titles
  • subtitles
  • paragraphs
  • fact boxes etc...

The Reader

When writing children should think about the reader and what effect their writing may have on them. This may effect their use of vocabulary, punctuation and other literary techniques. 

Language Effects

Specific and Technical Vocabulary

Children should use more specific and technical vocabulary to add detail.

A few dragons of this variety can breathe on any creature and turn it to stone immediately.
Drops of rain pounded on the corrugated, tin roof. 

Boastful Language

Use boastful language to interest the reader.

  • magnificent
  • unbelievable
  • extraordinary
  • exceptional


Use as/like similes, extending them to add more detail and specificity.

...like a boat bouncing on stormy waves
...like a cat purring loudly


Use personification to give non-human things with thoughts and feelings.

The trees bowed over backwards, looking up to the sky.
The unlit doorway beckoned her on.

Powerful Speech Verbs

Speech verbs should be chosen carefully to reflect what the character is feeling.

  • sighed
  • shouted
  • whispered
  • yelled
  • shouted
  • joked etc...


Exclamations are introduces in year 3.

  • Oh dear!
  • Hey!
  • Ow!
  • Well I never!

Some exclamation begin with 'what' or 'how'.

  • What a beautiful day!
  • How stupid is he!
  • What a quiet little girl!


Questions can be used to intrigue the reader. Using a question in the title of a piece of writing can act as a 'hook' and encourage the reader to continue reading. 

Yetis - do they exist?
Would you recognise an ogre if you saw one?

They can also be used effectively in: 

  • persuasive texts.

What do you think?
Would you want your pet to be treated like this?

  • instrucational texts

How do you trap a troll?

  • a story

What was it?


Use alliteration to create sound effects. 

The wild wind whipped the shoreline.

Notice onomatopoeia when reading

Onomatopoeic words echo sounds associated with their meaning. Children are expected to be able to identify these when reading.

  • clang
  • hiss
  • crash
  • bang
  • pop
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