Our Learning > Our Classes

A Year 5 Class Post

We are Writers!

Telling Traditional Tales in New Ways 


Before we start planning our own writing, first we spent time exploring different examples of the type of writing we are looking at. We read and identify the features in these WAGOLLs (What a Good One Looks Like) so that we know what we need to put in our own writing to make it successful.

For our John Henry unit, we read and explored ‘The True Story of the Three Little Pigs’ by Jan Scieszka and Lane Smith and Lozen’s story in ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’ by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo.

We investigated how these writers wrote traditional tales from different perspectives and how they chose new, different kinds of heroes for their stories.

“We created an alternative traditional tale based on John Henry. We looked at examples to help us – the original version of the three little pigs, an animation, a WAGOLL and different texts and then we started planning. We had to put our facts in chronological order and had to use language features such as similes, short sentences and metaphors.

We wrote our stories in the past tense and wrote it from Polly Anne’s point of view. John Henry wasn’t a usual hero; he was a black man, a steel worker in America – not glamorous like in traditional tales. It was a lot of writing but it was a lot of fun.”  – Phoebe and Freddie


Language Focus

Before we start drafting our own writing, we practised the different language features we found in our WAGOLLs. Different texts use different sentences types, different verbs, and different kinds of vocabulary, different pronouns different registers (formal or informal language) and different kinds of figurative language. For our John Henry unit, we practised short sentences, relative pronouns and relative clauses and writing from a first person perspective.

Planning and Drafting

Once we have practised all the language skills we need, we move on to planning and drafting our writing. We look at what paragraphs we need for our text and how they should be organised and connected.

For our John Henry story, we revised the story mountain structure that we learnt in Year 4. We watched a short animation telling the story of John Henry’s life and decided which main events we needed for the Opening, the Problem, the Climax, the Resolution and the Ending.  Then, we wrote our own version of John Henry’s life, using this structure and all the language features we practised in the unit. Once we have written our drafts, our teachers review our work. They highlight what we have done well and suggest some Next Steps that we should take to improve our writing and make it even better!

We also take time to edit our work, correcting any spelling mistakes ourselves and putting in extra examples of the language features we have been practising. We have editing packs to help us so we can practise doing this by ourselves.


Sensory Poems Inspired by Everyday Objects – Fruit 

“We looked at different poems, cinquains and free verse. We used our senses to describe different fruits: smell, taste, sight, how they felt and even how they sounded! It helped us to investigate the fruits we were writing about. We hadn’t used our senses before to write poems.  We even got to taste the fruit so make the flavours come to life!

The poems were fun to write and it was fun in the way we displayed our creations.”

-Freya and Lauren

War Poems 

After exploring our senses when writing free verse fruit and stationary poems, Walnut and Maple poets studied a type of poem called Cinquains, we discovered that Cinquains have a set structure of 5 lines and must include:

Theme (2 syllables)

Adjectives about the theme (4 syllables)

______ing, _____ing, ______ing (6 syllables)

A line telling the reader how you feel or think about the theme (8 syllables)

Synonym for the theme (2 syllables)

“We did a hot seat activity where some of us pretended we were soldiers describing how we felt about the war and what happens at war and then we created war cinquains and performed them!”-Wilf

Have a look at our lovely cinquains displayed in our room- we are so proud of our poems dedicated to the soldiers of the war.

“We read different poems about World War and looked at the feelings from the poet’s perspective. We added our own thoughts after looking at pictures from the war, then created our own cinquains. We learnt different styles of poems to Year 4. It was quite emotional writing these poems.” -Frank and Zac

Explanation texts 

We wrote an explanation text for future Samuel Lucas parents and children.

The purpose of our writing was to explain how to Survive and Thrive at our Samuel Lucas School. Through our learning journey in explanation texts, we had our language focus lessons where we practised creating and writing relative clauses, modal verbs and cohesive devices to make sure our explanation leaflets were informative and told the parents and children how to survive and thrive at Samuel Lucas.

To practise our writing skill of ‘changing our text for different audiences’, we adapted our leaflet and created a Reception leaflet for Reception children after interviewing Reception children to get their perspective and views on school.

“We first looked different food posters that had a target audience for Reception children to identify what features were good for younger children before creating our own.” –Sachi

At the end of our learning journey, Year 5 Writers went down to Reception and read our leaflets to the Reception children.

“We started our explanation texts unit by looking at a WAGOLL and identifying the features: simple sentences, using parentheses, subheadings, expanded noun phrases and relative pronouns.

First we wrote a leaflet for the parents of children starting school. We used all the year 5 language features. We then looked at how to write for different audiences. We interviewed the children which really helped us to understand their minds. We then adapted our leaflet to write for the reception children. We used short sentences, included jokes, added more pictures and kept it simple. I think we were successful.” -Audrey and James


← Back to Year 5 posts page