Multi-sensory learning and interactive workshops at Drayton Manor Zoo
We are speaking with Lee who heads up the Education Team at Drayton Manor to find out a bit more about what they offer within a school trip and how Sensory Learning doesn't stop in EYFS.
Hi Lee, can you tell us a little bit more about the multi-sensory learning experiences you have at Drayton Manor?
Sure. Our motto is "we put the fun into learning". Asking children to sit in front of a heavy PowerPoint until they fall asleep, is not fun.
Therefore, to ensure that our sessions keep children engaged and remain fun all the way through, we include different elements. One of these elements includes role-play. This is a must for any zoo session, even at A-level. From behaving like a Gallimimus at KS1 to being a Veterinary Pathologist at A-Level. Creating a story around the subject is also important, it gives children an emotional connection to what they are learning. Each session includes visuals, sounds and touch opportunities so that all types of learner are engaged from kinaesthetic to auditory learners. Finally, all our zoo sessions include meeting an animal or seeing real animal artefacts. This creates that WOW memory link in their brain between what they have learnt and what they have seen.
Can you talk us through how you include those in the workshops you run?
Learning doesn't have to be dull; we have a planning system in place that ensures that each session incorporates different sensory elements to ensure each and every zoo session remains fun and engaging.
What do teachers do while you are running the workshops? Do they get involved in the workshops?
I always ask teachers to get involved with the learning of their pupils, from role-playing the behaviour of a T-Rex, to leading by example when it comes to meeting a new animal for the first time. There's no time for a cup of coffee and a chat in our workshops!
With your workshops through the Zoo what types of subjects do you offer links to?
To ensure that schools and children are truly benefitting from our learning experiences, we ensure that all our sessions link back to the national curriculum. If it doesn't link, we will not create it.
From “what's for dinner” linking to carnivores, herbivores and omnivores, to “evolution” linking evolution and inheritance. We advertise all the national curriculum links covered on our website.
When schools visit your zoo, do they have access to the whole park?
Yes, park tickets allow access to all available rides and attractions including the zoo. Or, we can create a bespoke guided zoo only package for schools only wanting to attend the zoo.
How does a school plan a whole day at the park? Do they get enough time to visit all areas of the park?
If a school purchases park tickets they can plan their own self-guided day. We can support them with our on-site visit guide, which will provide all the information they need. There is plenty of time to visit everything a school wants to visit, but we will always assist any school that would like more guidance on where to go and what to do.
When schools book a guided day (for zoo only visits) with our education team, a member of staff will be with them all day. This means collection them from the coach, storing baggage, guaranteed indoor lunch space, and a whole timetable tailored around the school's education needs, while keeping it fun and interactive for the children.
If you were to choose 2 of your workshops to take part in which ones would you choose and why?
My personal favourite is our Dinosaur Discovery session, it full of fun and really draws on the magic of dinosaurs. From role-play (teachers you're involved too), to a tactile sensory activity based on touch and meeting a live animal, even a story time based on the extinction story. Close behind is our slime lab session for year 5, 6 and 7. Making a mess is always fun but mixing science and biology into that makes it a fantastic teaching aid. Children are always grossed out by animal slime, so when you compare that to the slime they are making, it creates a fun and lasting educational memory.
Are there any new workshops or rides coming to Drayton Manor in the next 12 months?
My focus for 2020 is ensuring that all our sessions have got that multi-sensory element to them, so taking older existing sessions and making them fun and engaging for 21st century teaching. We are always looking at new sessions, and always work with schools if they ask for a topic we do not currently cover. My headline new session for 2020 is a year 3 or 4 session on bones.
If you are interested in hearing a bit more about how Drayton Manor can help you with planning your next school trip then why not get in touch here.
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