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Anthony Legon


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A Spelling Seed for The Mermaid of Zennor


KS: Lower KS2

Year Group: Year 4

Literary Theme: Finding Freedom

Author(s): Charles Causley


This is a three-session spelling seed for the book The Mermaid of Zennor by Charles Causley.  Below is the coverage from Appendix 1 of the National Curriculum 2014.

Spelling Seeds have been designed to complement Writing Roots by providing weekly, contextualised sequences of sessions for the teaching of spelling that include open-ended investigations and opportunities to practise and apply within meaningful and purposeful contexts, linked (where relevant) to other areas of the curriculum and a suggestion of how to extend the investigation into home learning.

There is a Spelling Seed session for every week of the associated Writing Root.


Word List Words

decide, guide, important, learn, natural, notice, possible, group

Spelling Rules and Patterns

The suffix -ation
Words with endings sounding like /ʒə/ or /tʃə/

A Writing Root is available for The Mermaid of Zennor.

Writing Root Overview:


Information booklets, retelling from a different perspective, letters, tourist guides

Main Outcome:

Own version legends


3 weeks, 15 session

Overview and Outcomes:

This is a three-week Writing Root for The Mermaid of Zennor by Charles Causley in which children begin by exploring the story and language of the book before making predictions and creating some letters to characters in the story.  They then go on to create guides to Zennor, retelling the story from the mermaid’s perspective and finishing by creating their own merfolk characters to include in a legend-style story that could be set in Cornwall or elsewhere.

Synopsis of Text:

On the rugged Cornish coast, where the land meets the sea, lies the village of Zennor. Here, there are stories and whispers of a villager capturing the heart of a mysterious and beautiful stranger from the sea ... a mermaid!  From a landscape rich with myth and magic comes this classic folk tale. With beautiful watercolour illustrations from award-winning artist Michael Foreman.

Text Rationale:

This is a fantastical tale about mermaids covering themes of escapism and freedom.  It is a classic popular Cornish folk tale, so it represents a great way to learn about the history of the United Kingdom and different ways of life within it.  It is written in a poetic style, and the retelling by the poet Charles Causley and contains a wealth of archaic vocabulary that lends itself to literary language.  It has been illustrated by the celebrated illustrator (and author in his own right) Michael Foreman. Please note that as this story is old-fashioned in its style and narrative, it contains some gender stereotypes that may need to be addressed within the context of the story.

Links and themes:

Cornwall, mermaids, merfolk, legends, oceans, escapism, freedom

Date written: August 2021

View The Mermaid of Zennor Writing Root

Literary Leaves within the same Literary Theme

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