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Enriching the National Curriculum with Habitats

Hi! My name is Elle. 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: Habitats

​ZooLab’s Habitat workshop introduces pupils to different habitats from around the world: including tropical rainforests, deserts, polar regions and oceans. This hands-on workshop looks at three great survivors; rats, cockroaches and humans and considers how and why they have survived.

So how does this workshop enrich the curriculum?

Habitats occur in the National Science Curriculum through the topic of ‘living things and their habitats’. However, cross-curricular links are made with Geography across various key stages, allowing children more time to explore, learn and find answers through fieldwork. With science now having a heavy focus on pupils working scientifically, fieldwork- such as outdoor learning, helps give pupils opportunities to meet these objectives and have long-lasting, fun experiences at school.

At ZooLab, children partake in ethical, hands-on experiences by handling animals they will not see in the wilds of the UK, instilling a curiosity in children which they can take into their local area. Fieldwork allows pupils to get close to nature, taking their learning away from traditional book reading.

Schools seek to give children time in nature through forest school programmes, which promote the holistic development of all involved. At ZooLab, we can complete our workshops in outdoor settings where the weather allows; this helps us draw attention to the habitats of our animals with clear, natural visuals, drawing comparisons between different countries and what we see around us. It is always a pleasure to allow our giant African millipedes to wander around on the leafy ground to help us demonstrate how their segments qualify flexibility across their bodies as they forage. Suppose your school has a forest area or any green space outside. In that case, this can be a suitable outdoor classroom in which children can inspect for different habitats to either precede or follow our habitats workshop. ZooLab also has a range of free, printable resources which support our sessions.

So how do we make learning accessible within this workshop?

At ZooLab, we cover a wide geographical area within England and parts of Scotland and Wales. In some cases, delivering workshops in areas where green spaces are limited and air pollution is higher. I am always mindful when delivering our workshops that not all children have access to nature as easily as others; therefore are coming to school with different prior knowledge.

Vocabulary will differ between inner-city academies and outer-city village schools, so I aim to adapt my approach to support the teaching of curriculum-based terminology. As a ranger, I consider that geographical placement might make school time a child’s primary exposure to a tadpole-filled pond, woodlouse-covered logs and worm-rich soil. If you have any specific requirements, feel free to discuss your class's needs and prior experiences before the workshop.

The animals we handle during our sessions originate in Africa, Asia and Australia, often seen as these fantastic, far-away destinations. I understand that not all pupils will have access to the internet or television to see real-life images of our animals’ habitats which is why I use ZooLab’s 5-minute digital video with bright, engaging pictures and animations for our habitats workshop. These give children baseline images to build their learning as we talk through 4-6 different habitats. This video can be played at the start of the workshop or before ZooLab visit as an introduction to the topic.

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