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Let’s Build a Zoo!

I can’t quite believe I have now been travelling around Australia in a little van for nearly a whole year! We have travelled the length of the East Coast and have made some unforgettable memories! But as you can see, I haven’t exactly been neck deep in environmental education. Teaching it that is, as I can safely say I have learnt a great deal on my journey from zoos, trips and lots of fascinating people.

This is why I decided to dedicate the last 4 months of our first year in Australia to continue in teaching and trying to be a part of the animal education industry. After lots of enquiring, emailing applying and not much luck, I got my first job in Australia! I was now a kids club attendant at Sea World Resort, Gold Coast. No it wasn’t actually teaching environmental education, but it was a foot in the door in a huge tourism company with 2 different animal parks (Sea World and Paradise Country), so I was a really happy bunny!

As the job was casual, I searched for a day job with a guaranteed income. I replied to an add looking for a home school teacher 3 days a week (perfect!) and this is where I met the wonderful Milly and her family. Milly is 11 and wasn’t getting on too well in school, so mum wanted someone to go back over year 5 with her, focusing the work on her specific interests and needs. Much to my delight, Milly loves animals, so this is where the topic ‘Let’s Build a Zoo!’ was born! I worked really hard in planning a topic where Zoos and animal education were involved in as many usual school subjects as possible, linking closely to the year 5 Australian Curriculum. (http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Content_for_Year_5_-_Learning_area_content_descriptions.pdf)
I was really proud of the outcome, Milly did some fantastic work and we both really enjoyed the topic. Therefore I thought I would share it with you all on here in case anyone would like to use this topic, or any of the individual lessons in their teaching!

Literacy
In literacy we firstly looked at the non-fiction topic of information texts. Milly’s overall task was to create a sign for an animal enclosure in her zoo.
To become familiar with information texts we looked at many animal fact books, aimed at different audiences, to look at common features. We then looked in more detail at how to use these features in the text. E.g. Captions, titles, sub headings, bullet points etc. To help Milly picture what an animal enclosure sign in particular might need to include, we took a trip to Sea World to have a look! Milly took pictures of the enclosure signs she liked and pointed out all the text features we had been studying.
Back in the classroom Milly chose her animal to create a sign about, stingrays, and then carried out lots of research, both in books and online. After creating a plan together she independently created her information sign. This was the finished result, I know I’d like to see that hanging up in a zoo!!
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The second literacy text was persuasive writing. Again we looked at all the features of a persuasive writing text, and learnt them in detail. Together we planned and practiced writing a persuasive writing piece. Her independent work for this text study was to write a piece either for or against zoos, she chose to write for zoos (phew!). Together we researched many arguments as to why a zoo is good and important. Milly was then able to independently plan and write an effective piece of persuasive writing.

Maths
There were so many year 5 study areas that we were able to cover in a zoo topic! First of all we looked at graphs, this would link to our scientific study (see science).
Secondly we studied area and perimeter. By doing this we were able to map out the size of our zoo, the size of the different animal enclosures, and then how to best fit those enclosures into our zoo.
Lastly, and Milly’s personal favourite study, was money. We looked at the financial costs of running a zoo. We worked out how many enclosures, staff and facilities our zoo could have with a given budget. We decided on pricings for entry, gifts and food based on our visit to Sea World and finally how many people would need to visit the zoo a day to be able to make a profit.

Science
When I first arrived, Milly had just gotten a new kitten, so I spotted a brilliant investigation opportunity. We planned a scientific investigation to measure the  kittens growth and then measured his weight and length for the next 8 weeks (the kitten was often not best pleased with our project!). We then plotted our results on a graph and concluded what we had discovered. We then also discussed how this could inform us when raising cubs of big cats in our zoo.
During this time we also looked at animal adaptations. As well as discussing different adaptations we also carried out experiments to help Milly physically see the benefit of the adaptation. My favourite being; 1.putting your hand in oil in an ice bucket to demonstrate the effectiveness of blubber. 2. making giraffe spit out of corn starch and water, to demonstrate how they are able to eat leaves off of spiky trees! We also touched on evolution and natural selection, but this is an incredibly hard topic for adults to grasp, let alone 11 year olds!

Art
Again this study was inspired by our trip to Sea World. Milly was fascinated by the little penguins, so we decided to design an enclosure! Milly researched, in great detail, what little penguins need to survive, and what other little penguin enclosures look like. I then helped her with a design and she got making. I could not have been more pleased with the outcome! We even got the approval of some little penguin zookeepers!!
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Geography
After a reminder on what a continent is and where places are on a world map, we researched using books, the internet, and documentaries, animals from Europe and North America (these are the two continents recommended for study in the curriculum). Milly then made a lovely fact file about the animals she had learnt about.

Milly then noticed that a threat common to a lot of these animals was direct or indirect poisoning. Therefore, using her information and persuasive text knowledge, made a poster to inform people about the dangers of animal poisoning.
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I really have loved my time teaching Milly, and I am proud of how successful this topic has been. She has really enjoyed it and has come on in leaps and bounds. Obviously this was just a snapshot of the work, so if you would like any more detail or copies of planning please feel free to ask! As always please feel free to share to anyone you think may find this useful.

Our following topic was dinosaurs (also super fun!) so to finish, here is a picture of us on my last day, sporting some pretty scary masks!!
Speak soon, lots of love 🙂 x
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Time for a new adventure!

Hi folks, time for a quick update!

Sorry I haven’t posted for such a long time, I’ve been head deep in coursework. However I have now finished my degree and am pleased to announce that I am now a qualified primary school teacher and will be graduating with a 2:1!

So onto the next adventure! In a week my partner, Alex, and I will be moving to Australia! I am very much hoping to continue my journey into environmental education whilst away, and therefore once working will be again updating this on a far more regular basis.

How fascinating it will be to learn about a whole new range of animals, environments, conservation and education. If I find work within these areas whilst there it really will be a dream come true.

So this is where I ask for your advice and help. I will be looking for experiences, and hopefully work pretty much straight away. Therefore if anyone could recommend places to visit with top notch experiences and educational facilities, so I can learn lots while I travel, that would be fantastic! Or if you work in the environmental education sector I would really appreciate advice on how best to find work.

We begin our journey in Cairns on the 2nd of July. I really do hope to meet and learn from some fantastic environmental educators on the year long trip and am willing to work and travel anywhere. So if you have enjoyed my reviews of environmental educational facilities and/or like my lessons and resources, please do get in touch!!

Much love,
A very excited Poppy  x

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Friends for Sharks

Yesterday I learnt lots of amazing things about sharks! For instance did you know that there are 465 species of shark and have up to 40000 teeth in their lifetime?! I learnt that Great Whites grow up to 6m long, weigh up to 2 tonnes, live up to 70 years and can reach speeds of 20mph! Why did I learn these lovely little facts about sharks? I attended an open lecture by a marine conservation cause called ‘Friends for Sharks’. This cause was dreamt up and is run by shark experts and enthusiasts Kathryn Hodgson and Nick Curzon. Both have spent large amounts of time studying and working with sharks and decided that they would like to travel spreading word about these fascinating and misjudged creatures. In their talks they not only give you lots of interesting facts about sharks, Great Whites in particular, but they also spread the word about the plight of sharks and how you can help! They explained how sharks are threatened in several ways, for example: incorrect and sensationalist media, shark fin soup and poaching. All in all sharks are threatened by us! Kathryn and Nick told us some horrendous and quite upsetting statistics about the effect we are having on sharks. Shockingly 11400 sharks are killed per hour! Only 3000 great whites are left in the world, at the most, and they could go extinct in our life time! What can we do to help stop this? EDUCATION. And that’s exactly what Kathryn and Nick are doing with Freinds for Sharks, in an exciting, interesting, and passionate way! They are currently taking their talk on a world tour, the flights for which they are paying for out of their own pockets! So have a look on their website and see if their world tour is coming anywhere near you! If you work somewhere that could benefit from their talks I highly recommend you get in touch as this talk will benefit people of all ages, with a little or a lot of marine knowledge. Or if you are unable to visit a talk but want to help them along please make a donation to them! This will go towards educational resources, essential tour costs (but not flights as previously mentioned) and to support their chosen charities; Project Aware and the Shark Trust. You can get all this info and more at their website: http://www.friendsforsharks.com On top of all this I was also quite personally touched by this talk, persuaded not to ever give up on my dream! Kathryn has been on a long and what seems like a difficult road to get her to the point of starting Friends for Sharks. Things like people telling her to get a ‘normal’ job and struggling through injury. Yet here she is, spreading the word about her passion in life and helping to save these magnificent creatures. She’s even written a book about her journey, which I will definitely be reading! You can find it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Damage-adventure-courage-survival-ebook/dp/B00R2ZF14Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423149350&sr=8-1&keywords=kathryn+hodgson She promised me there would be a paper back soon 😉 I wish Friends for Sharks all the luck in the world for their tour! A truly inspiring venture. 🙂

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Posters to Help Protect Primates.

In the last few weeks of Monkeying Around we looked at the primate pet trade. Now this is arguably the hardest topic I wanted to teach in the 8 weeks of the club and would have to go about it carefully so as to inspire the children rather than upset them.

I looked online and found some great teaching resources from Wild Futures in Cornwall. This gave me some really good info and statistics which I was then able to turn into a PowerPoint full of interesting info suitable for my Year 6s. They learnt all about the current laws for keeping a primate and what this tends to actually mean in reality: What they are fed, the cages they are kept in, the injuries that can cause and what can happen to them when they don’t ‘behave’ and the illegal pet trade taking monkeys from the wild. The children then watched the video about Joey, a rescued capuchin monkey at Wild Futures and were very much moved by his story.

(Wild futures: http://www.wildfutures.org/)

We had a big discussion about whether primates should be kept as pets. The children came to a conclusion that most people cannot keep primates as pets as they do not understand their needs. The children think that UK laws need to be tightened to stop just anyone owning a primate as a pet and to stop primates being trafficked from the wild. They also decided that they would like to help educate as to what it’s really like to have a monkey as a pet…

So they made some posters to do just that!

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The posters have information about the reality of keeping a monkey, discuss how they feel about it and talk about Joey the Capuchin as an example.

I was sad that this was the last thing I would be teaching the children but was also really proud about how enthusiastic the children had become on the subject of primate conservation!

One of girls had done a whole piece of descriptive writing about a macaque during the classes big write. Two more girls surprised me with books they had made in their own time, full of facts about different animals, including notes telling me how much they’ve enjoyed the club!

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Tad emotional but job well done I feel!

On another note. This will probably be my last post for a long time as I am back to university for my last 6 months of study and to ensure all concentration is on my essays and passing, I will be slowing the voluntary/ part time work right down. However my other half and I have an exciting move planned in June…to Australia! I am very much hoping to carry on this environmental education journey out there. So if anyone has any contacts out there in this field of work, please do send me a message!

Thanks 🙂

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Save the Macaque!

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I may have mentioned previously, yanno maybe once or twice, that my favourite animal in the world is a Sulawesi Crested Black Macaque.

So for the last couple of weeks, conservation club have been learning all about these majestic little critters. 😀

The year 6s researched the monkeys looking at their behaviour, habitat and diet, leading to them also falling very much in love with the mohawked characters! The children also looked at why they are so critically endangered and what people in Sulawesi are doing to help. So this clearly included the fantastic charity, who I am in upmost support of, Selamatkan Yaki. ( http://selamatkanyaki.com/ )

The children learnt about how education is so important for the children in Sulawesi and that Selamatkan Yaki teach them all about their local monkeys! They were so inspired by the work that of course, they wanted to help! So we decided that we could make an education video, to help teach others about the Sulawesi Crested Black Macaque.

After some more research and working very hard on an effective script, this is what they came up with…

(Please bare in mind the children only had 2 half hour sessions to make this video)

The children have been very brave in making this video, so any feedback for them would be very much appreciated. Thank you 🙂

Save the Macaque!

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Tall Tails

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You may have recently seen that the natural history channel, Eden, have released a competition for amateur wildlife enthusiasts like myself to upload a minute long natural history film of their own. Obviously an opportunity far too good to miss!

So after a bit of brain racking I managed to rope in my little sister, who has her own vlog (she’s a clever and entertaining little bean, search ‘kelseydoes’ on YouTube), and the lemur keeper to help me out. So after work one day we filmed with some very mischievous lemurs and this is what we cam up with…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv_qzA1_wKM

If you would like to have a gander please let me know what you think! All feedback would be fantastic; good and bad! Of course, if your friend happens to work in the natural history television industry… feel free to pass it on!

In other news, it was my last day working at the zoo today 😦

I have had an absolutely fantastic summer, learnt so much, been given some fantastic opportunities and will of course miss seeing beautiful animals every single day!

My next adventure is my 4th and final teaching placement. I start Monday and will be at the new school, with year 1, until Christmas. I am very much hoping to use lots of outdoor education lessons during this placement and, if allowed, run a conservation club for year 5 and 6.

Therefore at the end of each week I will post any outdoor or environmentally based lessons I teach, letting you know how they went…whether it be great or terrible!

Wish me luck 🙂

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Wild Futures

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After my latest post describing Monkey World and it’s educational work I was contacted by Paul Reynolds, the Education Officer and Keeper at Wild Futures Monkey Sanctuary in Cornwall. He wrote to me to ask if I would like to visit the Monkey Sanctuary and meet him to learn about the Monkey Sanctuary and the education programme that he runs. Of course I jumped at this chance!

I learnt so much about the Wild Futures charity and it is amazing what such a seemingly small charity can do. The truth is Wild Futures is not a small charity at all, they have huge influence in the primate conservation world. Firstly, what many people may not realise is that Wild Futures was created before Monkey World and both helped and advised Monkey World in the creation of their enclosures. They have also been a leading the way in Woolly Monkey husbandry, and were the first ever captive establishment to successfully breed them. (Due to being a sanctuary, Wild Future no longer breed their Woolly Monkeys)

At the moment Wild Futures are concentrating their influences onto parliament and the current exotic pet laws. Their campaign ‘Justice for Joey’ calls for the Government to make it illegal for primates to be sold and kept as pets in the UK. The campaign is based on the story of Joey the Capuchin monkey; who was kept by his owner in a tiny inside cage, causing him to become disabled. This is such a worthwhile campaign, as unfortunately Joey’s story happens far too often! Wild Futures influence and the campaigns importance is demonstrated perfectly in the fact that Stephen Fry has jumped on board and has appeared in the campaigns promotional video.
Here is a link for the Justice for Joey campaign:
http://www.wildfutures.org/justiceforjoey/

Education at Wild Futures comes in many different forms. The facilities at the Monkey Sanctuary are clearly old and could do with a re vamp but these things need money and being a charity the money first and foremost goes on the animals. Importantly thought, the content in the educational areas is fantastic! There is a room for younger children full of really exciting activities; from colouring to writing primate poems! It is a fantastic space for children to learn to love primates!

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There is also a very informative ‘lecture’ type room which includes videos, props and signs showing exactly why it is so cruel to keep a primate as a pet, and how Wild Futures rehabilitates these monkeys successfully. Even though shock tactic is used in this room it is really effective and detailed. I learnt so much, for instance I did not know that some vets recommend putting monkeys on leads! This room also shows the vast amount of conservation that Wild Futures are involved in and contribute to.

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On top of this there is a bat watching station, a room all about discovering local wild life and a fantastic display discussing the dangers of animal encounters when abroad.

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What I think is most impressive about the education is the person who is running it! It is clear that Paul really cares about encouraging children to see the dangers of the pet trade and actually, to just share his love of primates. He is a great force in this sanctuary, filling the site with brilliant ideas and info and connecting the sanctuary to lots of different primate charities. Being the only education officer at Wild Futures Paul is able to become involved in all sorts of events and school visits; leaving himself and Wild Futures with lots of fingers in lots of pies!

Finally the cute bit! The animals! The Monkey Sanctuary has rescued Woolly Monkeys, Capuchins and Barbary Macaques. I was lucky enough to see the big but beautiful woollys eat their morning monkey cake!

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Saw the famous and wonderful Joey. Fell in love with this big boy.

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And saw yet another species of marvelous macaques! Macaques are still, with out any question of a doubt my favourite primate species. Like the Sulawesis and the Stump tails the faces of the Barbarys were full of emotion and intelligence! One thing I was not expecting though was the size of these macaques! I don’t know whether all their fluff makes their size misleading but they were big old boys.

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Although this maybe wouldn’t be the ideal family day out for some people; as some may want to see more than 3 species of monkey and maybe not want to climb that many hills. I hope people bare in mind the fantastic work that is going on here and take the opportunity to educate themselves and children about primates and their welfare, by having a read of the signs, or a listen to the many volunteers that are more than happy to chat.

To Paul and Wild Futures, thank you for a fascinating day! My Justice for Joey letter will be off to my local MP very soon!