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Science & Nature

Merfolkology: The Science, Math, Literacy and Art of Mermaids, Mermen & Merfolk | Play-Based & Interest-Led Learning

Using art, story-telling and play, we will go beyond the Disney Princesses, and meet the diverse Merfolk and marine life of the ocean (including an almost-real life Mermaid!). Learners will develop marine science & biology, math, engineering (STEM), literacy, social and language skills over the half-semester | #academic | Neurodiverse, Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Gifted Inclusive.
Alice Campbell MTeach (PreK - Yr 2), MPlayTherapy
184 total reviews for this teacher
Completed by 2 learners
year olds
learners per class


Charged upfront
$21 per class
Meets 1x per week
Over 5 weeks
40 minutes per class
There are no open spots for this class, but you can request another time or scroll down to find more classes like this.


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 developmental and sequential approach to mathematics learning. 

1. I can explore, infer, predict, and hypothesise in order to develop an increased understanding of the environment and my relationship to it. 
2. I can combine fine-motor, cognitive skills and thinking strategies to achieve increasingly complex patterns of activity to create, communicate, solve-problems and adapt to new situations. 
3. I can manipulate objects and resources in order to investigate, take apart, assemble, invent, assemble, construct, and experiment with cause and effect.
4. I can make predictions and generalisations about different environments, and communicate these using language, gestures, numbers, and symbols.
5. I can use language, gestures or visual symbols to communicate and convey meaning about social and personal experiences; mathematical ideas and scientific concepts. 

1. What does it mean to belong? Is belonging important?  
2. Are oceans important to humans? Are humans important to oceans? 
3. How does the ocean make you feel?

~ Living things are adapted to a particular ecology.
~ Living things grow.
~ Engineering involves designing something to solve a problem. 
~ The structure of something influences its function. 
~ An ecology is made up of many different plants and animals that all interact together. 
~ Oil and water are different substances, and oil repels water.
~ Water moves across a surface.
~ We see colour when light is reflected off a surface. 

~ Counting.
~ Subitising.
~ Comparing number.
~ Composing numbers.
~ Patterns, structure and algebraic thinking.
~ 2D shapes.
~ Composing 2D shapes.
~ Disembedding shapes.
~ 3D shapes.
~ Composing 3D shapes.
~ Spatial visualisation and imagery.
~ Spatial orientation. 
~ Measurement (length).
~ Measurement (area).
~ Measurement (angle and turn).

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. 

โ€‹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 and gestural 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: 

๐—˜๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐˜ ๐—ฉ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜† ๐——๐—ถ๐˜€๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐˜€๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป
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. 

๐—˜๐˜…๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป
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 am both a trained nurse and Masters qualified Early Childhood teacher, with specialist qualifications in Play Therapy. I have over 30 years experience in working with young children, specialising in designing programs to improve children's developmental, educational/ learning and mental health/ well-being outcomes in both "typical" and complex circumstances. I have received numerous government and industry awards for my work in both teaching and therapeutic practice. 
There is no assigned homework in this class. 

In some cases, depending on the pace that each child prefers working at, they may not finish their project in the allocated class time. In this case they can continue working on their projects after class. 

Following each session, I will also provide a handout with suggestions for (optional) activities, play and art to extend children's off-screen learning and interests between sessions.  

Prior to each session, children will need assistance to prepare and set-up. This will typically take 5 - 10 minutes for most sessions.  
ย 1ย file available upon enrollment
MATERIALS - WEEK 1 ~ 3 - 5 sheets of *thick* paper (at least A4 size). Watercolour paper is ideal, but you can also use cardstock/ white cardboard. You can also use pre-made (dollar-store) canvases. ~ Liquid watercolour paints: You can easily make these at home using food colour and water. Instructions will be provided. ~ Some paint brushes, and clean water for rinsing ~ A small bowl of 2-3 tablespoons of salt (you can use cheap table salt, Epsom salts or both!) ~ Optional: collage materials such as glitter, sequins or other sparkly things to glue on after class. MATERIALS - WEEKS 2-5 A list will be provided at the end of each class, outlining the materials required for the following week. This will ensure you can keep track of what we need for each specific week. In summary, the ESSENTIAL materials needed for weeks 2 - 5 will include: ~ Several sheets of white carboard or cardstock ~ Elmer's/ school/ pvc/ white glue OR a cold-glue gun ~ Sticky tape or masking tape ~ Any lovely items you collect on a nature or beach walk - shells, sand, leaves, flowers, acorns, pine cones, interesting pebbles, bits of bark, feathers, sea glass, other beach or nature treasures. ~ An empty pringles container or postal tube ~Some tissue paper (2-3 different colours) ~ Tin foil ~ Any craft sparkles you prefer (e.g. sequins, eco-friendly glitter, glitter glue, translucent gems or shells from the Dollar Store, etc.) ~ Some clear plastic cups, glasses or clear (plastic or glass) jars ~ A good supply of cheap table salt (e.g. a 500g or 1kg bag) ~ Ice cubes ~ Some solid cooking shortening (available from the supermarket) - e.g. ghee, copha, lard, crisco ~ Different coloured playdough or salt dough (a recipe will be provided) ~ Some 'dough tools' for making different textures and patterns - e.g. spoons, tenderisers ~ Fun merfolk dress-ups: scarves, fabrics, colourful clothes OPTIONAL (fun to have, but not necessary): ~ some beading materials (twine, scissors, beads) - cheap kits are often available from department stores, Dollar Stores, etc.
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 maybe some time outside of class.
Important note about nudity:

In this class I show a variety of images (sourced from the public domain, or with copyright holder permission). Historically/ traditionally images of merfolk have depicted the human (upper torso) as naked. I have carefully selected the all images in this class to be child-friendly and appropriate, respectful, and to exclude images of female breasts. However, parents should be aware of the following: 

-> female breasts in some images shown are not "clothed" but discreetly covered - for example with strategically placed hair or seaweed.  
-> some of our weekly stories include children who - because of the location at the ocean - are wearing swimwear. This includes a drawing of a male character wearing lower-body swimwear only (no covering on his torso).  
-> in week 5, we explore the work of the great artist, Henri Matisse. This includes an image of a hybrid man-bird creature who is fully unclothed. The groin region of the male image is skin-coloured and visible, but it is not graphic and contains no representation or any "hint" of the male reproductive organs.  

Parents are very welcome to contact me and request copies of the mentioned images to view, prior to deciding whether to enrol in the class.
This class and its title is inspired by the books "The Secret Lives of Mermaids" (Anuk Tola), and "The Secret History of Mermaids and Creatures of the Deep" (Ari Berk). These books will not be used directly in this class. 

Teaching approaches in this class are drawn from:
~ Waldorf and Montessori teaching philosophies
~ Play-based learning, with a focus on Play Profiles (Sara-Lea Chazan).
~ Imaginative Pedagogy (Kieran Egan)
~ Eight-Ways Pedagogy (Tyson Yunkaporta)


Alice Campbell MTeach (PreK - Yr 2), MPlayTherapy
Lives in Australia
Play-Based Learning For All Children - In The Real Wonderland
184 total reviews
371 completed classes

About Me

Hello! My name is Alice. 

Through my independent teaching practice, ๐—œ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ช๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ, I help families from all over the world, who are searching for meaningful alternatives to high-pressure and standardised approaches to education, teaching...ย 
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