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Science & Nature

Create a Water Cycle Science Terrarium & Miniatures World | Play-Based & Interest-Led Learning

(Also available in FLEX format) With stories, play, hands-on creativity, gardening, imagination and conversation we'll create a miniature world terrarium for our dinosaurs, fairies, animals, Minecraft, or toys while observing the science of the water cycle | Neurodiverse, Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Gifted Inclusive.
Alice Campbell
185 total reviews for this teacher
27 reviews for this class
Completed by 53 learners
  There are no upcoming classes.
year old learners
Pre-Kindergarten-1st US Grade Level
learners per class


Charged upfront
Meets once
40 minute class
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Class Experience

The intended learning outcomes for this class are aligned with the Australian and UK early years curricula. They are also consistent with the preschool/ early years curricula for NZ, China, Korea and most European countries. This class utilises the Michigan Essential Literacy Practices Framework, and the Mathematics Learning Trajectories. 
Intended Learning Outcomes
1. I can begin to make predictions about the water-cycle in a terrarium, and communicate these using language or other representations. 
2. I can make connections between my terrarium and more general concepts and processes about the water-cycle in the environment. 
3. I can use representations to help organise and communicate my ideas, thoughts and concepts. 

Critical Thinking Question(s)
1. In what ways do you notice water moving about in your terrarium? 
2. What might you need to do, to keep your miniature earth healthy?

Science Content and Concepts
~ "Down" refers to the centre of the Earth.
~ The Earth has layers which are made up of rock, soil and other substances.
~ Plants are living things that "drink" water to help them survive.
~ Water travels into the earth/ soil, through plants and up into the sky.

Mathematics Content and Concepts
~ Patterns, structure and algebraic thinking.
~ Disembedding shapes.
~ Spacial visualisation.
~ Measurement (volume).
~ Measurement (area).

Vocabulary and Speech
This class will provide a setting for children to develop and practice their vocabulary and speech relating to the content, concepts, and activities we are exploring. The words we will be using will include nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections. 

​Vocabulary (or knowledge of words) includes understanding their structure (morphology), use (grammar) and meanings (semantics). It also includes understanding how one word links to other words (word/semantic relationships). Oral and aural vocabulary skills (or, for non-speaking children, visual vocabulary skills) are absolutely crucial to later development of literacy decoding and reading comprehension and fluency. 

Because this is such an important skill gained in early childhood, I use a strong evidence-based and developmentally appropriate approach to vocabulary and speech development. This includes: 

𝗘𝘅𝗽𝗹𝗶𝗰𝗶𝘁 𝗩𝗼𝗰𝗮𝗯𝘂𝗹𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝗗𝗶𝘀𝗰𝘂𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻
Explicit vocabulary discussion means that, in this class we not only use words, but we may also sometimes talk about them. We might discuss, for example:
~ what does this word mean?
~ what words would communicate what we want? 
~ what other words can we use for this?

While these discussions are explicit, they are not a discrete part of our classes or delivered as a "lesson". Instead, we weave these into our organic discussions while we play, create and tell stories. I do not choose or have a "list" of specific words that children "must" learn. My approach is to respond to children's interests by offering explicit vocabulary discussion that is purposeful, and which helps each child engage with their goals, interests and motivations. This means that children are developing their vocabulary (and self-awareness of it) in a meaningful, relevant and active way. 

𝗘𝘅𝘁𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻
While it may seem "efficient" to get children to memorise, or rote learn, words - this approach has been shown to have no real value in speech/ language development generally, including vocabulary development. Rather, evidence confirms that the critical requirement for strong vocabulary and speech development is sufficient opportunity for children to engage in meaningful, two-way conversations that are interesting to them. 

To provide this for your child, I maintain very small class sizes and a child-led approach to learning. This ensures that each child has many opportunities to "chat" and "talk" with me and other learners throughout this class about the things that have captured their interest or that they are discovering. I focus on finding opportunities within these conversations to not only introduce new vocabulary, but to also extend and stretch each child's confidence in using and understanding vocabulary in speech. 
I hold a Master of Teaching (Early Childhood) and have specialist skills in designing immersive education programs for very young children. I am a former member of Mensa.
There is no homework in this class. However, children may wish to continue working on their projects after class. I will also provide a handout after each class with suggestions for (optional) activities, play and art to extend children's learning and interests between sessions.  

Children will need assistance from an adult to prepare and set-up prior to the session. Once you have the materials, this will typically take approximately 10 minutes.  
 2 files available upon enrollment
A detailed list of materials, including a range of possible terrarium plants, will be provided on enrollment. I welcome you to contact me with any questions you have. ESSENTIAL materials include: 🌳 A clear container for your terrarium. The main requirements are that it needs to be able to be sealed with a lid or plastic food wrap/ rubber band seal. It should also be wide enough at the top for your child to fit their hand inside for planting. You can use a fancy terrarium jar if you like. But for beginners I suggest using something recycled from the home or from the dollar store, for example: - a glass/ mason jar with a lid, - an old fish tank/ bowl, - a 2 or 3 litre soft drink (soda) bottle with the top cut off (save the top, and use it as a lid) - recycled food packaging (clear plastic) 🌳 Terrarium materials. - small stones or pebbles - charcoal (this helps stop bacteria, and is usually available from most nursery stores sold as “horticultural charcoal”) - potting mix - moss (this can be purchased from a nursey in the form of “sphagnum” moss) - 1 - 2 small plants to fit inside your terrarium. For this project, little baby ferns or vines would be ideal (the water cycle won't be quite as obvious if you are using succulents or cacti). 🌳 General supplies - A cup or large spoon (to pick up and move materials) - A bottle of water. OPTIONAL materials - nice to have, but not essential, including: 🌳 Some children love making "mini worlds" in their terrarium. Having a few plastic dinosaurs, fairies, mushrooms or jungle animals to decorate offers an extra way to engage!
Learners will not need to use any apps or websites beyond the standard Outschool tools.
I do not use tests or other standardised approaches to assessing children's progress. In this age group, testing it is not developmentally appropriate and in some cases may be psychologically and academically harmful. 

However, as a teacher, I do believe it is important for me to be accountable to both children and parents. I aim to deliver classes that are not just "busy work" or entertainment, but which actively contribute to each child's learning in meaningful and sustainable ways. 

To do this, I use continuous observation of children's activity and conversation. When I make these observations, I am specifically considering the child's development in relation to the learning outcomes of the class (see above). 

I then routinely provide feedback to children. This may consist of: 
~ positive affirmation (e.g. "I really liked the way you communicated your idea with that painting");
~ positive reflection (e.g. "I wonder how you came up with that idea?"); and/ or
~ positive stretching (e.g. "I wonder if you could show that idea in other ways?). 

This is a wholistic approach to assessment. The child's response to my feedback helps me understand of "how far" they have traveled in their learning, and then "what comes next" in their learning. 

I welcome questions and inquiries from parents about their child's learning progress. 
40 minutes per week in class, and an estimated 0 - 1 hours per week outside of class.
🌳 Children will need assistance to prepare and set-up prior to the session. This will typically take around 10 minutes.  

🌳 This class includes a strong focus on children's hands-on participation and agency. I suggest having a large tray, towel or sheet to ensure easy clean-up following the class. Children should wear clothes that you are comfortable if they get messy or stained.  


Alice Campbell
Lives in Australia
Play-Based Learning For All Children - In The Real Wonderland
185 total reviews
396 completed classes

About Me

Hello! My name is Alice. 

Through my independent teaching practice, 𝗜𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗹 𝗪𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗱, I help families from all over the world, who are searching for meaningful alternatives to high-pressure and standardised approaches to education, teaching... 
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