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Year 6 writing overview

The grid below is an overview of the writing units in Year 6. 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 Spring Summer

Poetry:  What I didn’t do over the summer (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘It ain’t what you do it’s what it does to you’ by Simon Armitage

Purpose and Audience: Write poem based on your own life experiences. Prepare a poem for performing aloud.

Poetry:  Life Doesn’t Frighten Me (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me’ by Maya Angelou

Purpose and Audience: prepare a classic poem and perform it to a younger audience, and then create modern versions of the poem

Poetry:  Beachcomber (3 week)

Stimulus: Beachcomber by George Mackay Brown

Purpose and Audience: write a poem inspired by the place where you live, contribute to a class book of poems to be shared with the school community

 Non-fiction: Youthquake! (Biography, 3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Youthquake’ by Tom Adams (read various biographies including Anne Frank)


Fiction: Life Doesn’t Frighten Me (4 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘A house like no other’ by Alexandra Sheppard

Purpose and Audience: children plan and write their own story about overcoming fear; publish on school website.

Fiction: The Explorer – survival stories (4 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘The Explorer’ Katherine Rundell

Purpose and Audience: build a shelter and include it in a survival story. Read the new story to a Year 5 audience.

 Fiction: Suspense (4 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Number the stars’ by Louis Lowry

Purpose and Audience: write a passage using devices that conjure a feeling of suspense in the reader


Formal and Informal letters (2 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar

Purpose and Audience: in role as Stanley, write am informal letter home to mum; in role as mum, write a formal letter of complaint

Non-fiction: Explanation – How to build a shelter (2 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Survival for Beginners’ by Colin Towell     

Purpose and Audience: Explain how to build a shelter and include the features identified in published survival texts.


 Poetry:  Lost words (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘Lost words’ by Robert McFarlane

Purpose and Audience: write detailed acrostics about a different animal –publish in class book and read aloud to the school

The wave (2 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Wild horses’ television advert (video)

Purpose and Audience: write fear story of wave and then their own


Poetry:  Transition to Year 7 Unit,  A Good Weekend (1 week)

Stimulus: ‘A Good Weekend’ by Theresa Lola

Purpose and Audience: children create a poem about their ideal weekend to share with their Year 7 teachers.

 Non-fiction: Waste Monsters (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘Planet SOS’ by Marie G Rohde

Purpose and audience: create a waste monster that explain a waste problem and provokes the reader to take positive action

 Newspaper articles: Hero journalism (3 weeks)

Stimulus: Revisit the legends ‘Beowulf’ and ‘Theseus’ from prior year groups.

Purpose and Audience: retell the stories in a journalistic style, shifting between editorial comment, direct speech and reported speech.

Non-fiction: Animal Awards (3 weeks)

Stimulus: ‘The Animal Awards’ by Martin Jenkins

Purpose and Audience: create a new animal awards non-fiction page using knowledge and understanding from science sessions.

Sentence Construction


Semi-colons, colons and dashes

These can be used instead of a comma to create a stronger subdevision.

It's raining; I'm fed up.
The weather is lovely - wish you were here!
The match was abandoned: rain poured down.

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A colon is often used to introduce a list.

You will need to bring three things: walking boots, a packed lunch and a bottle of water.

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Semi-colon within a list

A semi-colon can be used to make a more 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.

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Bullet points

Bullets points are used to punctuate a list.

We will need:

  • 6 eggs
  • 500g flour
  • 250g butter

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Hyphens to avoid ambiguity

A hyphen can be used between two words to make a sentence more clear. 

Man eating shark.
Man-eating shark.

Recover (to get better)
Re-cover (put a new cover on something)

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Word Structure and Language

Word Choice

Children should carefully consider word choice when writing. They should choose or find words: for precision and impact, to create effects and to sustain the interest of the reader while considering the topic, style, audience and purpose of the text. 

Here are some literary devices that they may use:

Onomatopoeia - Onomatopoeic words sound like the object or noise that they name. 

The boy crashed down the stairs.
The keys rattled in the bowl.

Metaphor A metaphor is a word or a phrase that is used to describe something as if it were something else.

The wave of terror crashed over him. 
Her home was a prison. 

Alliteration - This is when two or more words in a row begin with the same letter.

Wicked witch
Slimy slugs

Simile - A simile is where you compare two different things. 

The ground was hot like fire.
Her hair was as bright as the sun.

Personification - Personification is where you give human feelings and actions to objects or ideas.

The room held its breath.
The rain trickled happily down the window.

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Difference between vocabularly for formal and informal speech and writing
Children must know the difference between the type of vocabulary used for formal and informal speech and writing.

"She never came in here," said the shop owner.
"She never came in here, " reported the shop owner.

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Understanding how words are related to synonyms and antonyms

These sound really scary but are actually quite simple. 

A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly the same, or nearly the same, as another word or phrase.


An antonym is a word or phrase which means the opposite of another word or phrase.


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National Curriculum Terminology

  • active voice
  • passive voice
  • subject
  • object
  • hyphens
  • synonym
  • colon
  • semi-colon
  • bullet points

Text Structure

Word Choice

Choose or find words for precision and impact, to create effects and sustain the interest of the reader. The topic, style audience and purpose of the text should also be thought about when choosing what words to use.

Word Order

Manipulating the order of words within a sentence can create emphasis and make a point clear.


Use Expanded Noun Phrases

An expanded noun phrase is a group of words which are used to describe the noun. 

These can be used:

  • as subjects of sentences

Many different kinds of...
What really concerns us...
The dark looming form...

  • as drop in phrases to convey complex meaning

The boy, who was waiting by the car, jumped over the fence.
The downpour, which was long overdue, signalled the end of sports day. 

Choose from a wide variety of connectives

Appropriate connectives should be chosen, depending on text-type, to: start paragraphs, provide hooks and clues for the reader and link ideas.

Here are the ways in which connectives can be used:

  • Addition: also, furthermore, as well as, moreover
  • Opposition: but, however, nevertheless, yet, on the other hand, although
  • Reinforcement: besides, after all, in any case, after all
  • Listing: first, after that, next, when
  • Indicating result: so, unfortunately, consequently, happily, luckily
  • Indicating time: suddenly, first, just then, all at once, meanwhile, later, after, when, before, as soon as, that morning, at last, in the end, just when

Consolidate on: 

  • well-chosen adjectives and adverbs that add something new
  • 'name it' (poodle not 'dog')
  • powerful verbs
  • speech verbs
  • making sure that each word earns its place, this avoids over writing
  • creating new combinations and avoiding clichés (the old lady was hobbling, the old lady was break-dancing)

Language Effects

Maintaining style throughout writing

Making sure that the style of a piece of writing is maintained is important. Here are a some aspects of writing that are difficult to maintain:

  • formality of voice
  • use of description
  • persuasive devices
  • talking to the reader
  • humous

Use figurative language 

Figurative language can be used for a variety of effects.This is where words and ideas are used to suggest meaning and create mental images. 

This can be done through using:

  • sounds: alliteration/ onomatopoeia
  • images: similes/ metaphor/ personification

Word play for effect

Children should be using wordplay for effect through the deliberate use of:

  • ambiguities
  • homophones
  • puns
  • jokey or sarcastic similes and metaphors

Use Ellipsis

An ellipsis is a series of three dots in place of something that it missing. It can be used in different ways:

  • to avoid repetition
  • to leave the reader speculating (What on earth...?)

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. 

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