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Choose ZooLab for National Curriculum Enrichment

Hi! My name is Elle. I'm a ZooLab Ranger in the South East of England. I came to ZooLab after working in an education setting for nine years. I'm excited to share why our work is essential for others in education.

Here at ZooLab, we have carefully tailored our fun and engaging workshops to coincide with the National Curriculum. Let's take a closer look at some of our sessions as examples of how we can help you meet curriculum coverage through enriching hands-on experiences.

Workshop: Predators, Prey and Food Chains

This workshop encourages children to categorize animals into two groups: predators and prey. We discuss how some can fall into both categories and why this is. From here, we look at simple food chains starting with producers and ending at tertiary consumers. At each stage, we welcome our ZooLab animal team to reinforce the information we are discussing. This topic is taught within the Key Stage 2 science curriculum but adapted across Primary education.

So how does this workshop enrich the curriculum?

Ofsted seeks out examples of Culture Capital provided within education. Primary and Secondary schools are asked to provide their children with cultural and social experiences they might not have access to independently. ZooLab’s wide range of exotic animals, such as bearded dragons and corn snakes, allow students to get up close and personal with some creatures they won’t usually find in parks and gardens. These experiences can be life-changing, driving children into animal-based carers where they need to study science at a higher level. We aim to inspire those who might not have thought twice about the effect a millipede’s diet has on our world!

So how do we make learning accessible within this workshop?

One barrier to learning identified by children is understanding all the scientific terms and vocabulary within a unit. Students who do not access the basic words will find building on this difficult. By defining the language and using live animals as visual supports, children can reapply this knowledge to other familiar animals. For example, once we break down that a snail or millipede eats a producer, children can identify other minibeasts they know which will have the same diet. Isn’t holding a giant African land snail so much better than imagining one? Our Zoolab rangers can adapt the vocabulary used within sessions depending on the age and needs of the group to both scaffold and challenge.

Over the last few years, there has been a shift towards children working scientifically within their lessons. Our animal handling section of the workshop gives students a chance to observe and ask questions allowing them to access information from experts in the field. We also encourage children to use drama and role play when learning terminology. I love demonstrating how a frog uses its eyes to swallow crickets to younger pupils, who will copy and put their hands on top of their heads, imitating the frog’s eyeballs!

Workshop: Minibeasts

As you might guess from the name, this workshop is all about minibeasts! Within the session, rangers will discuss what a minibeast is and where we find them in our local environment. We then work our way through several minibeasts native to different continents.

So how does this workshop enrich the curriculum?

One way in which schools are structuring their curriculum is through a topic-based approach found within a creative curriculum. For example, Reception could cover Minibeasts for a whole or half term tying in all areas of learning within the Early Years Framework.

At ZooLab, we are often invited as part of a WOW day to introduce topics or, at the end, to summarise learning. There are enrichment benefits to both:

  • Hooking students onto a topic in preparation for exposure across multiple subjects.

  • Allowing children to 'try out' their learning in a practical scenario.

  • Bridging subjects together so students can see links which might initially seem ambiguous.

Our Minibeast workshops can vary in length depending on the time frame available at a venue, allowing for a wider spread of minibeasts. We aim to expose children to familiar animals but often on a larger scale - I enjoy visually comparing the size of garden spiders to our tarantulas.

So how do we make learning accessible within this workshop?

Not all learners process information the same. With the advance in technology, teachers and leaders can better provide for visual and kinaesthetic learners. Because our minibeasts are often larger versions of a species, children can quite literally get a better look at the body parts and their movements. For example, after having learnt what antennae are and how they help an animal, why not allow children to feel those antennae in action? Cockroaches have many sets of feelers to enable them to touch and taste, which your students will experience on their actual hands. Our rangers are happy to link in any specific learning you have been doing if mentioned to us at the beginning of a session. We enjoy trying to be cross-curricular where we can, as there are many contributions to core and non-core subjects we can make. Let's take maths, for example; students are encouraged to count the number of legs an animal has, take measurements of body lengths, or make mental calculations - all of which align with maths curriculum objectives. Allowing children additional exposure to previous learning through an enjoyable experience helps children see the everyday adventure in learning.

All of us at Zoolab aim to amaze, educate and inspire. I hope you have found some helpful information within this post which might encourage your setting to make a booking. These are just two of our many workshops here at Zoolab. For more information, please visit our website, which lists all our current workshops. You can narrow your search based on Primary, Secondary or SEND provisions to help you choose the best fitting experience.

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