Sustainability - Somebody Swallowed Stanley

June 24, 2021
Claire Davenhall
Jessica Beasy


School: Ellenbrook Christian College

Year Group:

Teacher: Jesscia Beasy

Creative Practitioner: Claire Davenhall 

Creative Practice: Visual Artist - SculptorEllenbrook

Christian College Primary School aspires to instil a sense of excitement in their students and ensure that they excel at school. Teacher Jessica Beasy joined the Creative Schools program to develop her Year 1 students’ sense of character and their resilience to face day-to-day challenges that are shaping the world around them. She was matched with Creative Practitioner Claire Davenhall, a Visual Artist specialising in sculpture, together their focus has been on building better learners, by providing regular opportunities to develop the Five Habits of Learning with their students during their weekly sessions. Students at Ellenbrook Christian College are committed to the lifelong process of learning and are encouraged to take ownership of their achievements.

In term 4, Year 1 students learnt about sustainability and we focused the learning around a book called “Somebody Swallowed Stanley” by environmental expert Sarah Roberts. The story tells a powerful message about plastic pollution and is told through the eyes of a plastic bag that gets swallowed by various animals before ending up inside a turtle that eventually gets rescued by a boy and Stanley gets turned into a kite!

“Everybody has a taste for Stanley, but he is no ordinary jellyfish. Most jellyfish have dangly-gangly tentacles, but Stanley has two handles.
Other jellyfish have a magical glow, but Stanley has stripes” - Sarah Roberts

Stanley's adventures help children from all over the world to understand the environmental threats posed by plastic pollution.

Students turned humble plastic bags into ‘Stanley kites’ and took them outside to fly in the nature area to observe what plastic pollution they could find in their own school. They collected an array of plastic waste and prevented it from getting into the ocean.

One by one, they took turns to create a beautiful coral reef with white sand and shells. Then, one by one they added pieces of plastic waste to observe what happens when plastic pollution enters the oceans.

They called it a ‘floating island of waste.’ When asked how they felt about filling their beautiful oceans with plastic waste, they had no words, feeling emotional they simply showed a thumbs down sign.

'A Floating Island Of Waste'

We talked about the oceans currents and how these floating plastic islands really do exist in our oceans. This opened up a discussion about how to reduce our plastic waste and always use our Stanley’s to pick up rubbish and put it in the bin!

Making these personal reflections added meaning and value to their creative learning experience in a social, emotional, spiritual and physical sense.

Feeling brave, we decided to take our little group of Year 1's on an eco excursion to the beach at Fremantle. They tested out being creatively brave with some up close encounters with sea creatures, they even had the chance to hold a small shark. 

“The Creative schools project has allowed all students to be challenged, whether that be through sticking with difficulty or learning how to be inquisitive. The students understand what skills they are applying when they are working and are all engaged. I am looking forward to continuing the Habits through into next year and beyond.” - Pam Tyrrell (Curriculum Coordinator)

Back in the classroom we swirled paint with our fingers like ocean currents, mixing blues, greens and pearlescent paint. We decorated them with tiny bits of plastic, to resemble the micro plastics in the ocean, each one telling a story of how it ended up in the ocean and being swallowed by a marine creature.

“When we do Creative Schools we feel collaborative and we get to do creative things.” - Student

The students found it empowering to use recycled plastic to give powerful messages they had learnt from environmental experts.

“This project has been extremely rewarding, observing the excitement in the students has been thrilling because they were so engaged with all the activities provided to them this term. They have embraced the program with so much energy and enthusiasm, they have been a joy to teach and it's been a privilege to share their creative journeys.” - Creative Practitioner

Finally, students were given the opportunity to ask environmental expert Sarah Roberts, their Top 3 questions about the oceans and the animals she helps to save from plastic pollution, they asked her:

What is your favourite shark? 

Believe it or not her favourite shark is not a great white or a whale shark, but a nurse shark because they are extremely good problem-solvers and always the first to escape from the holding tanks.

Why did a shark bite you? 

Sharks are extremely flexible and can even bite their own tails, if they wanted to, so while she was rescuing a shark from a net, it turned round and bit her on the arm, because it was very scared.

How do you save the sharks and other animals in the oceans?

Read the book and spread the message about plastic pollution, do not drop litter, dispose of it carefully, ask your parents to only buy fish from sustainable sources, walk to school instead of using the car, play outside and not on the PlayStation, all these things help us use less energy which is good for our planet.

“Working alongside our creative Claire Davenhall, has been a wonderful experience. Claire has this sense of calm about her, nothing the students do is too messy, too noisy or too abstract, which has allowed Claire to build this really wonderful relationship with them. Every time they see her enter our school they just wonder what fun and exciting things she has brought with her this time. Seeing the curriculum through a different lens has been the most rewarding part of this whole experience. I have loved watching my students start using the Five Habits of Learning language when talking about their learning experiences and how this has filtered into other learning areas and lessons as well.” - Teacher