Daytime activities for Primary school groups.
These activities are available for both residential and non-residential groups.
Each activity session:
is planned and led by one of our field study tutors who are qualified and experienced teachers.
is 'hands-on' and linked to the curriculum (National Curriculum or CEE). Detailed session plans are available on request.
uses a mix of learning styles and approaches, giving children an excitement and appreciation of the outdoor environment as well as knowledge and understanding.
- has a downloadable risk assessment.
Android phones with Wild Knowledge are also available for groups to use, giving opportunities for recording in the field using WildKey, WildMap and WildImage and for integrating ICT in follow-up work.
In and around the Centre: field studies and outdoor activities
In addition to the Centre’s own grounds with its variety of habitats there are safe riverside paths that provide access to woodland, creeks and the Medina estuary. All locations can be reached in less than 10 minutes walk.
The immediate environs of the Centre is called ‘Dodnor’; the origin of this name is
obscure but possibly refers to there being a farm on a nearby hillock. Dodnor Detectives provide ways of finding out about the unique features of the area – its natural history and its constantly changing landscape, including Medina Valley Centre’s own Nature Reserve. A good ‘starter’ activity for a residential visit, giving children a ‘sense of place’. Depending on time available and the time of year, activities can include:
Dodnor Nature Detectives
Children use a map to find ‘Notice Nature’ posts in habitats within the Centre’s grounds: unimproved grassland, saltmarsh, mudflats, hedgerow, pond and trees. They learn about how each habitat is special and how it is looked after through hands-on activities and have to come up with questions of their own.
Dodnor Detectives: Survey
An important aspect of the Centre’s research and conservation work is to keep records and monitor the environment. Children get a 'taste' of this by participating in one of the OPAL surveys (hedgerow biodiversity, bugs, ponds, weather) and enter data on a national database.
Dodnor Photo Trail
Children navigate along a riverside route within 1km of the Centre using a simple map to find out where certain photographs were taken. Through map jigsaws and games they reconstruct this journey. An excellent way for children to get familiar with environment, enjoy some friendly competition and stretch their thinking!
The inter-tidal muds of the Medina estuary (an SSSI) are valuable feeding grounds for wading birds. Children are taken onto the mudflats to do a ’squelch test’ and collect samples of mud. These are then washed, sieved and taken to the laboratory. Invertebrate life is investigated using video microscopes. This leads to discussion of adaptations to habitat conditions, food chains and food webs in the estuary. A very messy and fun activity linking directly to concepts in KS2 Science.
Basic map reading skills such as orientating a map, using a key and understanding scale are introduced through a variety of tasks in the Centre’s grounds. Children, in teams of two, then participate in a competitive event , either at the Center's grounds on a 'White' standard course or on a ‘Yellow’ standard in Firestone Copse using a ‘real’ orienteering map. Certificates and awards are given to all who complete the course. Gives kids a great sense of achievement!
As well as dipping into the Centre’s pond, children sketch and collect water samples using simple equipment. Invertebrates are examined closely and identified using keys and, with the aid of hand lenses and a video microscope, an amazing variety of life is found. Tallies of animals provide data for numeracy work and food chains are constructed. Children are encouraged to find out more ‘secrets’ about their chosen creature’s adaptations to its habitat and life cycle.
After a short ‘team building’ task, children in teams of 5-8 have to solve a series of challenges. For each one they are given a task card and it is up to the group to organise themselves and to solve the challenge. These include crossing (imaginary!) swamps, rivers or minefields; paddling on the river to defuse a bomb (again, imaginary!); making a rope square blindfolded; solving a numerical puzzle. The session concludes with a ‘de brief’, encouraging reflection on what makes a good team.
After designing and planning a trolley for an ‘Optimist’ dinghy using model kits, children work in teams to build a trolley based on their own design. They have to negotiate with their fellow team members, cost the parts, assemble the parts, trial the trolley with a boat, adapt as necessary and present the finished product to the group. Seeing the process through to completion gives a sense of achievement!
WATERSPORTS (Summer only, for children over 8 years of age)
The sheltered waters of the estuary adjacent to the Centre provides an excellent location to introduce children to being on the water. After instruction in basic water safety, children can either learn basic skills in dinghy sailing or paddlesports (sit-on kayaks and canoes) or can go on a canoe safari to observe features and wildlife of the Medina Estuary.
Observations of the weather can be made using LogIts and other hand-held instruments either each day or as part of micro-climate investigations. Data can be compared with ‘real-time’ records from our automated weather station and on-line images and data. Using OPAL’s resources children can also contribute to a national climate survey. Links are made with practical applications of weather forecasting and issues such as climate change. Lots of opportunities for numeracy too!
Walking through woodland is a novel experience for many children and introducing them to the variety of living things through games involving smell and touch as well as by sight and hearing is fun and exciting. Explorations include collecting leaf litter, hunting for minibeasts, looking for evidence of owls and squirrels and estimating the age of trees. This activity links well to exploring history and folklore associated with trees through storytelling.
Exploring the Island: field studies and activities
Any location on the Island's coast can be reached in 30 minutes, from dramatic, exposed cliffs to tranquil estuaries. The Island's natural history - especially its geology and marine life - is particularly fascinating and accessible for children.
Opportunities for bringing geography to life in beautiful rural landscapes include settlement and river studies.
The Island has played a unique role in Britain's history from Roman times to the 1939-45 World War offering scope for visits to both 'well known' and 'not so well known' sites.
Hikes along the Island’s spectacular coastal footpath can give children an unforgettable experience; the most popular day hike is to Alum Bay (WEST WIGHT WONDERS) but half-day hikes to, for example, St Catherine’s Point, are possible. In class, children use O.S. maps to find out about the route and prepare for the walk including looking at a weather forecast and checking their own equipment and clothing. En route there are opportunities for sketching, creative writing, observing coastal landforms and taking photos.
Several of the Island’s beaches are safe and accessible for children to see rock strata exposed in the cliffs and to find fossils for themselves: dinosaur (Iguanadon) footprints, Ammonites, fossilised wood and gastropods are easily found! And using beach materials to make life-sized dinosaurs and geological time-lines is a great way of stimulating interest in geology. In the classroom, other rocks and fossils from our extensive collection of Island specimens can be handled and activities can include making ‘fossils’ and solving puzzles about past environments.
ISLAND LIFE: VILLAGE or TOWN INVESTIGATION
Through fieldwork tasks (mapping and dating buildings, counting pedestrians and traffic, field sketching, interviewing people) children find out about either a village (Brighstone) or town (Cowes). In Brighstone, there are options of visiting a National Trust museum and St Mary’s church; in Cowes, the world famous yachting venue, it is possible to walk along the esplanade and marina with views of shipping and the Solent, with the children using information they have collected to create a 'Yauchtsman's Guide'. This research can be an excellent basis for further geographical work on places and environmental change.
Either the Caul Bourne or the Buddle Brook are used since there are shallow, safe stretches accessible for children (definitely ‘wellies’ required!) In class, the river is located using O.S. maps at different scales and Google images and terms defined eg catchment, mouth, source. In the field measurements are made of the channel and water flow using metre rules and floats and ‘kick samples’ of invertebrate life are obtained. Calculations of discharge and water quality can then be made. Features of erosion and deposition including meanders can be photographed or sketched.
Apart from finding crabs(!), children discover a fantastic variety of seaweeds and animals at some of the UK’s best rock-pooling sites. At Bembridge children make their own ‘mini rock pool’ in trays, observing creatures at close quarters and identifying their finds using visual keys specially devised for the site. Simple investigations can be made using data collected plus discussions of classification, adaptation and conservation. Competitions include a seaweed hunt or beach art. Rock pools at Freshwater Bay or Compton Bay can be accessed as part of a coastal hike.
Exploring the Island: recommended visits
There are many excellent venues that receive school groups on the Island. The following are some of the most popular with our visiting schools.
The boat trip from Alum Bay to the Needles is a great way to see the majestic Chalk coast with the Needles and the famous coloured cliffs. Choose either a 20 minute trip during the day or a longer ride at the end of the afternoon back to Yarmouth.
Guided tours and activities for school groups vividly 'bring to life' the history of the villa for children before they explore the villa with its visitor centre and grounds. Tours need to be booked in advance and there is an extra charge.
Walking on the Carisbrooke Castle's walls, seeing where King Charles I was held captive, trying on armour and seeing the donkeys turn the wheel for the well are some of the experiences children can enjoy as well as learning about history from Norman to the 20th century. English Heritage offer a limited number of free school visits if booked well in advance and, for an extra charge, a Discovery Visit. We can provide additional classroom activites to enable children to get the most out of their visit.