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Visits to Schools / Colleges & Pre-schools

As a former primary school teacher (and a lifelong naturalist and zoologist by background) it was seeing the enormous educational potential in the animals within my collection which initially inspired me to set up Jonathan's Jungle Roadshow.  I am able to offer a wide range of workshops and presentations which are designed to enhance children's understanding of the many wildlife-themed subjects within the Science Curriculum, from the Foundation Stage right through to Key Stage 4 and beyond, all of which use a diverse selection of fantastic live animals as their focus.  Children or students will be provided the opportunity, wherever possible in relation to session timings and group sizes, to touch or handle some of these animals; thereby experiencing them in a way in which they may never otherwise have the opportunity - literally bringing their Science learning to life!

Within my workshop sessions I also like to show some of these amazing animals REALLY close up, which both supports many Science Curriculum areas and gives sessions the WOW factor!  By using my video camera's macro function and a suitably connected big screen (interactive whiteboard or large panel TV) it is possible to show children or students tiny details of the animals which they would usually NEVER get to see other than on wildlife documentaries!

This service is available to all schools / settings subject to certain conditions being met to ensure a high-quality experience.  These include the appropriate equipment being available, that one suitably equipped room can be used for all sessions during my stay in school and that sessions are of suitable length for the experience being offered.  This type of workshop particularly suits a longer session and larger groups can be catered for in this way also.

Workshop topics

Whilst my workshops are tailored to meet the requirements of the new Primary and Secondary Science Curriculum for children in particular Key Stages it is important to note that any workshop listed below can be adapted for children of any age, including Foundation Stage 2 and pre-school children.

 

Please also note that, if required, elements of several topics / subject areas can be incorporated into a single presentation - as a former primary school teacher I am very adaptable!  These workshops can also be modified to suit any individual school's approach to teaching Science, whether via the new Science Curriculum or otherwise!

 

Here is an idea of just some of the subject areas I am able to cover within my sessions, all based on the new 2014/15 Science Curriculum programmes of study:

 

Key Stage 1

*** Classification and Grouping: Children will be introduced to a wide variety of animals and given the opportunity to observe the similarities and differences between them, including thinking about how we can use these features to group the animals in a simple way.

 

*** Habitats and Food Chains: Children will be introduced to the concept of habitats and microhabitats and will meet animals which live in differing habitats (e.g. rainforest vs desert), comparing their features and thinking about how animal features help them to survive where they live, as well as discussing how these habitats (and the animals which live there) differ from those closer to home in the UK.

 

They will meet a range of animals with varied diets, some of which are carnivorous whilst others are herbivorous (and omnivorous) and learn about the differences between these animals and how they depend on each other for survival as part of a food chain.

 

*** Animal vs Human Senses: Expanding on the statutory requirement for children to learn about human senses, I offer a workshop which talks about the different senses which animals use and how these are very often both quite amazing and quite different to those of humans!

 

*** Growth and Reproduction: In this workshop children will also be able to see life cycles in action, with an emphasis on the many different types of life cycles which animals go through as they grow.  As well as the live animals, many shed skins and moulted exoskeletons of various animals will be used to explain the amazing ways in which animals grow!

 

It will also cover simple information about reproduction, i.e. that some animals lay eggs and others give birth to live young, with baby animals and their parents used to highlight this.  The beauty of breeding so many animals myself is that I always have baby animals within the collection which are incredibly cute; whether geckos, stick insects, grasshoppers, mantises, whip spiders, scorpions or millipedes!

Lower Key Stage 2 (Years 3 & 4)

*** Moving, growing and changing: Children will be introduced to a variety of animals, some of which have a bony skeleton (endoskeleton) and others an exoskeleton.  A demonstration of the differences in how animals with these two types of body structure move, grow and develop over time will enhance their understanding of animal bodies and how amazingly diverse and remarkable they are, as well as thinking about what it would be like if humans did not have a bony skeleton!

 

*** Feeding / Nutrition & Food Chains: In this workshop children will be introduced to a variety of animals which have very different nutritional needs including a mixture of carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.  The concept of predator / prey relationships and food chains will be brought to life and children will also be able to see first-hand different types of animal teeth and mouthparts. They will learn how in some cases these mouthparts are only suited to one particular type of food, as well as some fantastic examples of how predators find and catch their prey!

 

*** Classification: Expanding on the KS1 Classification workshop, children will be given the chance to observe and describe the differences and similarities both between and within families of animals; identifying which features are common and can be used as a basis for classifying or organising the animals into groups. Among the invertebrates they will meet a selection of insects, arachnids and myriapods and their understanding of the differences will be greatly enhanced by having them in front of them (or even in their own hands)!

 

*** Environmental Change and its impact on wildlife: As a former conservation zoologist the impact of man on the environment is a subject very close to my heart and I have several fantastic examples within my collection of animals which are (and some which have been in the past) threatened by the negative influence of man.  From snakes at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and persecution, to geckos at risk due to the accidental introduction of alien species, to tarantulas and scorpions collected almost to extinction for the pet trade, there is plenty to talk about and for children to take in here whilst meeting some amazing endangered animals!

Upper Key Stage 2 (Years 5 & 6)

*** Life Cycles & Reproduction: Children will learn about the varied life cycles of a variety of animals, including the amazing difference between complete metamorphosis (as in butterflies and beetles) and incomplete metamorphosis (as in crickets / grasshoppers / spiders and other arachnids to name but a few)!  Using a combination of moulted exoskeletons & shed skins as well as baby animals and their adult counterparts (including animals at several different life stages in the case of some of the insects and arachnids) children will be able to witness first-hand how these animals grow and change!

 

They will also be introduced to the concept of animal reproduction, with as much or as little information shared as required / requested by the school I am visiting (I am more than aware and sensitive to this being an area which itself needs to be handled very sensitively).  At the very least I have amazing photographs to share of a variety of reptiles hatching from their eggs which children (and adults) always find absolutely fascinating!

 

*** Classification: Building on the KS1 and Lower KS2 workshops, children in Years 5 & 6 will be given the opportunity to meet an amazing variety of animals and to observe the many and varied characteristics of these animals which enable us to classify them not just into large groups (vertebrate vs invertebrate) but into smaller groups.  This will include meeting several quite different species within a single insect family (usually stick insects or grasshoppers) as an introduction to the amazing diversity of life, particularly within the insects.

 

*** Adaptation & Inheritance: Children will meet animals from a variety of habitats which demonstrate tremendous adaptations to life in their particular habitat.  Comparing the physical features of geckos, for example, from a desert and a rainforest really does bring to life how these animals have features specifically suited or adapted to their respective environments and which would not allow them to survive in an alternative habitat.  Children will also meet animals which demonstrate other amazing adaptations, for example allowing them to camouflage themselves to remain undetectable, to detect food in total darkness and to protect themselves from danger in more amazing ways than you can imagine!

 

This workshop will also demonstrate how these features of animals are inherited by their offspring, but that these offspring vary and are certainly not identical to their parents, using a mixture of baby animals and their parents!

Key Stages 3 & 4

These are just a few examples of the subjects I am able to cover in KS3 & KS4, please enquire for more details of others or if you have something specific in mind:

 

*** Variation: I am able to demonstrate fantastic examples of variation at the levels of Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species and (in the case of some of my more unusual stick insect species) even amazing variation within a single species!

 

*** Habitats & Adaptation: As per Upper KS2 workshop description, students will meet animals from a variety of habitats which demonstrate tremendous adaptations to life in their particular habitat.  Comparing the physical features of geckos, for example, from a desert and a rainforest really does bring to life how these animals have features specifically suited or adapted to their respective environments and which would not allow them to survive in an alternative habitat.  Students will also meet animals which demonstrate other amazing adaptations, for example allowing them to camouflage themselves to remain undetectable, to detect food in total darkness and to protect themselves from danger in some quite remarkable ways.

 

*** Environmental Change & its impact on wildlife:  I am able to demonstrate a number of examples of animal species which have suffered (both historically and ongoing) severe negative impacts as a result of man's influence over their environment.  From snakes at risk of extinction due to habitat loss and persecution, to geckos at risk due to the accidental introduction of alien species, to tarantulas and scorpions collected almost to extinction for the pet trade, there is plenty to talk about and for students to take in here whilst meeting some amazing endangered animals from all over the world.

 

*** Interdependence within an ecosystem: Students will meet a variety of animals which are carnivorous, herbivorous and omnivorous, with examples of predator / prey relationships and the problems faced by specialist feeders as opposed to animals which are more generalist in their diet and nutritional requirements.

 

As I said above, elements of a number of these workshops / subjects can be incorporated into a single presentation if required - I pride myself on being very flexible so please don't hesitate to ask!

Sessions are also available to both schools and pre-schools which provide an emphasis on topics which by themselves do not necessarily fit directly into the Science Curriculum such as:

 

Minibeasts  Children will get to meet a wide range of fascinating insects and other invertebrates up close and personally, and to learn some amazing facts about them!

 

Rainforests  Children will get the opportunity to meet lots of animals which live in the different layers of the rainforest (and from rainforests all over the world), from the dark jungle floor right up to the canopy of the trees!

 

Wildlife Conservation  A subject close to my heart, children will learn about what it means for an animal to be endangered and what we can all do to help those which are, and how to make a contribution to prevent others from becoming endangered.

Many schools book regular visits from the animals & I as a stimulus for creative writing, with both boys and girls of all ages finding the animals a perfect springboard to get their creative juices flowing!

 

Finally, sessions can be 'JUST FOR FUN' and not have a focus on any particular topic or curriculum area, but simply be an opportunity for children to meet these amazing animals up close and personally - whether as a class treat or otherwise!

A sequence of photographs showing a crested gecko jumping onto a Year 7 boy's shoulder at Sedgehill School, London

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