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Enriching the National Curriculum with Senses and Textures

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: Senses and Textures in SEN Schools

During Senses and Textures, children explore and understand how animals use their senses within their habitats, perceive their surroundings and adapt. Children make hands-on discoveries of textures and senses in an animal handling experience suitable for everyone from new intake to SEN classes.

So how does this workshop enrich the curriculum?

ZooLab has many workshops for those with special educational needs, both in mainstream and specialist settings. The workshop ‘Senses and Textures’ looks at the five primary senses and how animals use those to perceive their surroundings.

ZooLab’s animals bring new sights and sounds to classrooms and enrich the experiences of those who may be less able to access educational experiences outside of school hours. One of the main reasons I enjoy visiting SEN settings as I feel I can bring something different and unique to them.

The choice of which animals join a Ranger on that day is organised in advance, and special care is taken to which animals meet sensory needs. For example, I would bring more tactile animals, such as snails and millipedes, over non-handleable animals, like the frog, as this allows more hands-on experiences for pupils. In some cases, a pupil might have a physical need meaning one or more of their senses does not function in a typical way. If this were the case for pupils in my workshop, adjustments are made through the animals I use, or the senses spoken about with that particular child so that the learning is still applicable.

So how do we make learning accessible within this workshop?

ZooLab Rangers undertake training and guidance on delivering workshops in various settings, including SEN specialist facilities. All ZooLab workshops can incorporate PECS Animal Flash Cards allowing each participant to feel safe and secure in knowing what is coming next. These are reinforced using Makaton signs to support visually in a familiar method. It is worth mentioning to a Ranger if particular signs and symbols are used with pupils which could aid the delivery of the workshop, e.g. now, next, finished.

For non-verbal pupils, I always check whether a pupil can participate in handling beforehand and use clear language and instructions. Our workshops allow time for a slower pace, where pupils have quality time with each animal from a sensory point of view but also to maintain everyone feeling relaxed and enjoying themselves. Adapting our handling techniques to allow all pupils to participate is also essential. For example, where a child might be quick to grab items or favour sensory stimulation by putting things in their mouth, our ZooLab animals can be used on the backs of the hands or arms to support this pupil.

Our Senses and Textures workshop aims to follow objectives based on the National Curriculum for EYFS, KS1 and KS2. Age-related vocabulary is used to discuss our senses and body parts of animals; however, adjustments can be made to fit the attainment level of pupils in the class. We will pitch the workshop to fit in with your learning outcomes.

If your setting is looking to book one of our tailored SEN workshops, feel free to discuss any specific needs you would like us to cater for and how best we can support you.

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