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Year 5 writing overview

The grid below is an overview of the writing units in Year 5. 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.

Poetry:  Amulet (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘Amulet’ by Ted Hughes

Purpose and Audience: write a new poem in the style of ‘Amulet’ using the poetic pattern

Key knowledge and skills:

  • recite a poem using intonation to add meaning
  • use precise nouns and rich descriptive language
  • use the pattern and style of a known poem

Poetry:  The Kraken (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘The Kraken’ by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Purpose and Audience: Write a poem that is rich in imagery

Key knowledge and skills:

  • understand the term ‘imagery’
  • recite a poem using intonation to add meaning
  • make choices about the use of rich vocabulary and figurative language

Poetry:  Last night I saw the city breathing (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘Last night I saw… ’ by Andrew Fusek-Peters

Purpose and Audience: write a poem about your local area to be displayed in your local area

Key knowledge and skills:

  • recite a poem using intonation to add meaning
  • revisit the term ‘imagery’; use personification, metaphor and simile
  • propose changes to vocabulary and punctuation to clarify meaning

Non-Fiction: Information page (4 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Explore! Romans’ by Jane Bingham

Purpose and Audience: create an information page about Viking life – make your page inviting for KS2

Key knowledge and skills:

  • research an area of personal interest
  • learn to structure a cohesive information paragraph
  • use relative clauses to add information (who, which, where, when, whose, that)
  • use brackets indicate parenthesis

Fiction: Diary (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘The Kraken’ by Gary Crew and Marc McBride

Purpose and Audience: Write diary entries from the point of view of characters from the book.

Key knowledge and skills:

  • empathise with characters through drama
  • revisit subordination
  • use adverbials to indicate doubt and uncertainty (perhaps, surely)
  • continue to experiment with parenthesis (brackets, dashes, commas)

Non-Fiction: Information booklet (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Population and Settlement’ (Athens extract) by Izzi Howell

Purpose and Audience: create a promotional booklet to attract people into your newly designed future city

Key knowledge and skills:

•     plan work by noting initial ideas and research where necessary

  • carefully consider how awareness of audience influences language choices
  • use further organisational and presentational devices to structure text and to guide the reader [headings, bullet points, underlining]

Fiction: Legend - Beowulf (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Beowulf’ by by A. Horowitz

Purpose and Audience: write a legend and present it in role as Viking storytellers.

Key knowledge and skills:

  • understand the tradition of oral story telling
  • explore the techniques authors use to create setting and atmosphere throughout a story
  • make careful choices when using figurative language
  • continue to use subordination effectively

Non-Fiction: How are forces used in everyday life? (4 weeks)

Stimulus: Powerful Forces by Jon Richards

Purpose and Audience: Pick a force (thrust, drag) and create a presentation for a year 4 audience explaining how we use it

Key knowledge and skills:

  • present an explanation in a lively, informative way
  • build on prior learning about ‘cause and effect’ words
  • use devices to build cohesion within a paragraph then, after that, this, firstly]

Non-Fiction: Letters to Greta (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference’ by Greta Thunberg

Purpose and Audience: write an open letter to Greta (to be published online) that persuades others to join in and make a difference

Key knowledge and skills:

  • know that people post open letters online to contribute to global debate
  • build on previously learned persuasive devices (counter argument)
  • build on previously learned language of cause and effect

Poetry:  Civil War on the Moon (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘Civil War on the Moon’ by Ted Hughes

Purpose and Audience: write a new poem in the style of Ted Hughes and contribute to a class collection

Key knowledge and skills:

  • perform a poem as part of a group
  • identify ‘meaning breakdown’ and re-use new vocabulary
  • peer-assess writing and refine vocabulary choices


Poetry:  What I love about school (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘What I love about school’ by Roger McGough

Purpose and Audience: through poetry, tell the class a hobby that you simultaneously love and hate

Key knowledge and skills:

  • recite a poem using intonation to add meaning
  • use the pattern and structure of a known poem to express your own ideas to an audience
  • propose changes to vocabulary and punctuation to clarify meaning

 Poetry:  The Highwayman (2 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘The Highwayman’ by Alfred Noyes

Purpose and Audience: rewrite the poem from a different narrative perspective (Bess) for a modern audience

Key knowledge and skills:

  • infer characters’ feelings, thoughts and motives from their actions
  • consider different accounts of the same event and discuss viewpoints
  • understand and use wide range of vocabulary and use simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia

Fiction: Suspense - Object in the Woods (3 weeks)

Stimulus: Extract from ‘Sick Building’ by Paul Magrs and ‘A fire in the forest’ by W. W. E. Ross (poem)

Purpose and Audience: Write a first person narrative journey ending in the discovery of an alien object.

Key knowledge and skills:

  • know some ways that authors create suspense
  • use modal verbs to indicate degrees of possibility
  • use technical, scientific vocabulary in narrative writing
  • use dashes to indicate parenthesis and interrupt a sentence

 Fiction: Traditional Tale – a warning story (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘The Asrai’ by Pat Thomas

Purpose and Audience: Write a traditional ‘warning’ story that would excite a Year 6 audience. Publish on a blog and receive feedback from older children.

Key knowledge and skills:

  • know that folk tales often teach us right and wrong
  • link ideas across paragraphs using adverbials of time [for example, later], place [for example, nearby]
  • revisit speech punctuation and explore ways of developing reporting clauses

Fiction: The Highwayman (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘The Highwayman’ by Alfred Noyes

Purpose and Audience: write a newspaper report using information from a poem

Key knowledge and skills:

  •  know some journalistic techniques (editorial comment, direct quotes, reported speech)
  • continue to develop cohesion within a paragraph
  • continue use relative clauses to add information (who, which, where, when, whose, that)

What writing knowledge and skills do we learn about in Year 5?

Sentence Construction


Consolidate on:

  • capital letters
  • full stops
  • question marks
  • exclamation marks
  • apostrophes
  • colons
  • commas for lists
  • other uses of commas

Direct Speech

Direct speech should be used with increasing complexity and accuracy.
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.


Dashes can be used to show interruption in thought

Semi Colon

Semi colons can be used in stead of a comma to create a stronger sub devision.

Ir's raining; I'm fed up.

They can also be used to make a detailed and complicated list easier to read.

At the circus we saw a clown juggling with swords and daggers; a lion who stood on a ball; a fire eater with flashing eyes; and an eight year old acrobat.

Word Structure and Language

Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases

Use a range of prepositions and prepositional phrases indicating:

  • timemeanwhile, the following day, just as they were, at the start of, prior to etc.
  • position: parallel to, adjacent to, vertically, horizontally etc.
  • directiontowards the fence, away in the distance, around the edge etc.

Adjectival Phrases

Use a rage of adjectival phrases and consider the effect on their position in the sentence.

The inky eyed sloth lumbered into view.
The sloth lumbered, inky eyed into view.


Children should expand their repertoire of verbs. this can be done through finding:

  • synonyms for common verbs : go - leave, depart, exit etc...
  • specific or unusual verbs : veering, imploding, befriend, discombobulating etc...
  • verbs formed from nouns and adjectives : elbowing, purpled etc...
  • verbs with the same prefix : misspent, misrepresent, mistake etc...
  • verbs with the same root : export, report, import etc...
  • expanded 'ing' clauses as openers : Grinning manically... 

Consolidate on:

  • well chosen adjectives and adverbs to enhance meaning and create effects
  • 'name it' (poodle not dog)
  • use powerful verbs
  • varieties of speech verbs
  • making sure each word earns its place, avoiding 'over-writing'
  • creating new combinations, avoiding clichés

National Curriculum Terminology

  • relatice clause
  • modal verb
  • relative pronoun
  • parenthesis
  • dash
  • bracket
  • determiner
  • cohesion
  • ambiguity

Text Structure

Orally retell stories

Children should orally retell stories and non-fiction texts with lively expression. They should also innovate known stories, adding and altering to suit their style. This could be done by changing the sequence of events or change a main element of the story.


The links between paragraphs should be clearly signposted in order to direct the reader. The relevant links can be included when doing the 'boxing up' activity. 

Sentence Openers

Sentence openers should be varied to make sure that writing is interesting and varied. To do this different types of openers can be used:

  • 'ed-ing-ly'
  • connectives
  • prepositions
  • similes

Topic Sentences

Use topic sentences to expand the focus of paragraphs. They are used to open a paragraph or section of writing, signalling a shift of subject which is developed through the rest of the paragraph. 


use a wide range of connectives for:

  • addition: also, furthermore, moreover
  • opposition: however, never the less, on the other hand
  • reinforcing: besides, anyway, after all
  • explaining: for example, in other words, that is to say
  • listing: firstly, first of all, finally
  • indicating result: therefore, thus, in order to, consequently
  • indicating time: just then, meanwhile

Connectives in different parts of a sentence

Children should be experimenting with using connectives in different parts of a sentence.

Eventually, the rain stopped.
The rain stopped eventually.
The rain eventually stopped.

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

 Figurative Language

Use figurative language to create a variety of effects. These devices can help:

  • alliteration
  • onomatopoeia
  • similes
  • metaphore
  • personification


Use playful writing to invent metaphors (writing about something as though it were something else).

Happiness is a walk in the sun.
The school concert was a circus.
He was a leaf blowing in the breeze.

Engaging the Reader

Use techniques to entertain and engage the reader. 

  • recap
  • repetition of a 'catchphrase'
  • humour
  • hyperbole to exaggerate
  • questions to make the reader think
  • exclamations and fragments for emphasis (run!)
  • empty words to make the reader wonder (something moved)

Persuasive Devices

Children should collect and invent a variety of persuasive devices.

  • persuasive words and phrases

It wouldn't be difficult...

  • persuasive definitions

No one but a complete idiot...
The real truth is...

  • rhetorical questions

Are we expected to...?
Where will future audiences come from?

  • pondering, condescension, concession

Naturally it take time for local residents...

  • deliberate ambiguities

Probably the best...in the world.
Known to cure all...

  • jokey or sarcastic similes and metaphors

...like telling the time from a sundial in the rain!
...as much as a chocolate teapot.

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