Wild outings for schools

Learn naturally with us

Pond dipping, Sarah Watson 

Wild outings for schools

From pond dipping to bug hunts, we can give your students a school trip they will never forget. 

Book your session today

Email: enquiries@derbyshirewt.co.uk or give us a call on 01773 881188 

We can't wait to meet you! 

The Whistlestop Discovery Centre

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The Wildlife Discovery Room

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Pond dipping, Sarah Watson 

Our education centres

We have The Whistlestop Discovery Centre in Matlock Bath, perfect for learning all about woodlands, rivers and situated right in the heart of the World Heritage Site and our Wildlife Discovery Room and amazing outdoor classroom, perfect for pond dipping and campfires, based at Carsington Water near Ashbourne. Or, come and visit your local nature reserve - you'll love it as much as we do! 

So what are you waiting for? Come and get wild with us! 

Prices

£8 per child for full day.
£4 per child for half day.

Minimum charge of £200 per day or £100 per half day.

Groups larger than an average class size may incur a £50 additional charge to cover staff costs.

Safety and supervision

We make all our activities as safe as possible without diminishing the “hands on” value.

All activities are risk assessed, a copy will be sent out with booking confirmation.

All staff are first aid trained and have Enhanced Disclosure DBS clearance.

Overall responsibility for discipline and safety remains with the class teacher at all times.

Our curriculum activities include...

EYFS and Key Stage 1

Pond dipping

The ponds in our wildlife gardens provide an excellent opportunity to study freshwater animals and plants. Observational skills are encouraged and simple keys are used. An additional craft activity can be chosen where by the children make their own pond creature from craft materials.

Available at: the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: 45 minutes or 1hr 30 minutes with a craft activity.

National Curriculum links:

  • Understanding the world.

Outline:

  • Children will collect a selection of pond creatures and use pictures to identify them.
  • They will understand the basic life cycles of pond creatures.
  • They will appreciate the importance of returning the creatures carefully back to the pond afterwards.
  • They will understand how the pond environment is different from the one in which they live.

Sensory Habitats

Stones Island and our outdoor classroom provide a fantastic opportunity for children to safely explore the environment with their senses. We will play games to awaken their different senses and allow them to describe what they see, feel, smell and hear. An additional activity of mini beast hunting is also possible.

Available at: the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: 45 minutes or 1hr 30 minutes with a mini beast hunt.

National Curriculum links:

  • Understanding the world, expressive arts and design.

Outline:

  • Children will explore the environment around Carsington water using sensory games.
  • They will learn to describe the environment around them.
  • They will make a memory card to show the colours found around them.
     

Exploring High Tor Woods

Sensory activities and nature games on High Tor, a woodland close to the Centre. This involves a steep walk but with plenty of stops.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre.

Duration: half day (1hr 30min)

National Curriculum links:

Understanding the world: children understand how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants.

Science

Working scientifically: observing closely, using simple equipment. Identifying and classifying.

Plants: identify and name a variety of common wild plants. Identify and describe the basic structure of a tree. Find out and describe how plants /trees need water, light and a suitable temperature to grow and stay healthy.

Living things and their habitats: identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited and describe how habitats provide the basic needs of animals and plants. Describe how animals obtain food from plants using the idea of a simple food chain.

Outline:

  • How to get the most from a nature walk by using all our senses (though not usually taste!) to become more aware of the natural world around us.
  • During the walk we will stop regularly for nature games and sensory activities.
  • Activities link with the season and age of children but have a focus on how trees create habitats and means of survival for a wide variety of plants and animals.

Grow up with plants

An activity packed day to find out more about plants, how they grow, what plant parts are used for and why they are important to animals.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre, the Wildlife Discovery Room and Rose End Meadows Nature Reserve.

Duration: half or full day.

National Curriculum links:

Science

Working scientifically: observing closely, using simple equipment. Identifying and classifying.

Plants: identify and name a variety of common wild plants. Identify the basic structure of common plants.

Animals: Identify and name a variety of common animals. Identify and name a variety of common animals that are herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. Describe and compare the structure of a variety of common animals.

Living things and their habitats: identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited and describe how habitats provide the basic needs of animals and plants. . Describe how animals obtain food from plants using the idea of a simple food chain

Outline:

  • Plant bags and presentations.
  • How plants grow, what the different parts of a plant do for the plant, plant lifecycles.
  • Active plant parts and plant pollination games.
  • Identifying plants.
  • Why plants are important to animals and food chains.
  • Can include a minibeast hunt amongst the plants.

Nature's artists

Discover more about wildlife and habitats through games and natural art activities.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre and the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: half day (1hr 30mins).

National Curriculum links:

Science: Living things and their habitats. Identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited and describe how different habitats provide the basic needs for different animals and plants. Identify and name a variety of animals and plants in their habitat.

Art: use a range of materials creatively to design and make products; use sculpture to develop and share their ideas, experiences and imagination. To develop a wide range of art and design techniques in using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space. Learn about the work of artists.

Outline:

  • Pupils will understand the term habitat and will explore the local area looking at various habitats.
  • They will play games to discover more about some of Derbyshire’s wildlife including their basic survival needs.
  • Pupils will explore the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a well known land artist.
  • Pupils will discover the difference between sculpture and art
  • They will have a go at making their own pieces of land art using natural materials and another artistic creation which they may take home.

Owl babies

Sensory and active games to discover the habitat, food chains and what animals need to survive.

Available at: The Whistlestop Centre & Carsington Water 

Duration: Half day (1hr 30min)

National Curriculum links:

Understanding the world: children understand how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants.

Communication and language: Children listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions.

Science

Working scientifically: identifying and classifying, using observations and ideas to suggest answers to questions.

Plants: Identify and describe the basic structure of plants.

Animals: Identify and name a variety of common animals. Find out about the basic needs of animals for survival. 

Living things and their habitats: Identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited. Describe how animals obtain their food from plants and other animals, using the idea of a basic food chain

 

Outline:

  • How to get the most from a nature walk by using all our senses (though not usually taste!) to become more aware of the natural world around us.
  • During the walk we will stop regularly for nature games and sensory activities.
  • Activities link with the season and age of children but have a focus on how trees create habitats and means of survival for a wide variety of plants and animals.

Plants and animals

An activity packed day to find out more about plants and animals. Find out how plants grow, what plant parts are used for, why they are important to animals and how animals bodies are so very different to each other.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre and the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: full day.

National Curriculum links:

Science 

Working scientifically: observing closely, using simple equipment. Identifying and classifying. Plants: identify and name a variety of common wild plants. Identify the basic structure of common plants.

Animals: Identify and name a variety of common animals. Identify and name a variety of common animals that are herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. Describe and compare the structure of a variety of common animals.

Living things and their habitats: identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited and describe how habitats provide the basic needs of animals and plants. . Describe how animals obtain food from plants using the idea of a simple food chain

Outline

  • How plants grow, what the different parts of a plant do for the plant, plant lifecycles.
  • Identifying plants.
  • Why plants are important to animals and food chains.
  • A minibeast hunt, pond dip or sweep netting to study animals close up.

What's in our pond?

The ponds in our wildlife gardens provide an excellent opportunity to study freshwater habitats. Observational skills are encouraged and simple keys are used. A firm favourite for Key Stage 1.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre and the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: half day (1hr 30min).

National Curriculum links:

Science

Working scientifically: Ask simple questions, observe closely using simple equipment, identify and classify, use observations and ideas to suggest answers to questions.

Animals: Identify and name common animals. Describe the structure of a variety of common animals.

Living things and their habitats: Identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are adapted. Identify and name a variety of animals in their habitats. Describe how animals obtain food from plants and animals using the idea of a simple food chain and name different food sources.

Outline:

  • Children will collect a selection of pond creatures and use keys to identify them.
  • They will understand life cycles of pond creatures.
  • They will appreciate the importance of returning the creatures carefully back to the pond afterwards.
  • A follow up worksheet will be provided to extend the activity back in the classroom.

Key stage 2

Dragon discovery day

Are there dragons living on Stones island? Combining poetry, art and science learn about dragons and what they need to survive. Hunt for signs of dragons outdoors then create a land art masterpiece of your very own dragon.

Available at: Carsington

Duration: half a day

National Curriculum links:

Science

Living things and their habitats: Describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to observable characteristics.

Evolution and inheritance: Identify how animals are adapted to their environment.

Art: Improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including sculpture with natural materials. Learn about artists in history.

Speaking: To speak with confidence in a range of contexts, adapting their speech for a range of purposes and audiences.

Literacy: To develop understanding and appreciation of literary texts. Read stories, poems and plays aloud. 

Composition: use language and style that are appropriate to the reader.

Outline:

  • Poetry: Brian Patten “ A small Dragon”
  • Creative exploration of the habitats on site to inspire imagination.
  • Habitats, what they provide for animals and how animals are adapted to them.
  • Creating land art from natural materials.

Exploring High Tor Woods

Sensory activities and nature games in and around High Tor.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre.

Duration: half day (1hr 30min).

National Curriculum links:

Science

Working Scientifically: asking relevant questions, making careful observations, using results to draw simple conclusions.

Plants: identify and describe the functions of different parts of a tree

Living things and their habitats: recognise that living things can be grouped in a variety of ways. Explore and use classification keys to help group, identify and name a variety of living things in their local and wider environment

Animals including humans: construct and interpret a variety of food chains, identifying producers, predators and prey.

Outline:

Earthwalks
Sensory activities and nature games on High Tor, a woodland close to the Centre. This involves a steep walk but with plenty of stops.

  • How to get the most from a nature walk by using all our senses (though not usually taste!) to become more aware of the natural world around us.
  • During the walk we will stop regularly for nature games and sensory activities.
  • Activities link with the season and age of children but have a focus on how trees create habitats and means of survival for a wide variety of plants and animals.
     

Habitat explorer

Discover more about the wildlife and habitats on Stones Island through games, presentations and art activities.

Available at: the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: half or full day.

National Curriculum links:

Science

Living things and their habitats: Recognize that environments can change and this sometimes poses danger to living things. Describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to observable characteristics.

Evolution and inheritance: Identify how animals are adapted to their environment.

Art: Improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including sculpture with natural materials. Learn about artists in history.
 

Outline:

  • Pupils will understand the term habitat and will explore the local area looking at various habitats.
  • They will play games to discover more about some of Derbyshire’s wildlife including their basic survival needs.
  • Pupils will explore the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a well known land artist.
  • They will have a go at making their own pieces of land art and other artistic creations which they will take home
  • Pupils will learn more about 5 key species commonly found within Derbyshire. They will give short presentations to the class on their species.
  • On the full day activity, pupils will investigate a habitat to discover the animals that are found within it. This could be a pond dip or minibeast hunt. 

Nature's artists

Discover more about wildlife and habitats through games and natural art activities.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre and the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: half day (1hr 30mins).

National Curriculum links:

Science

Living things and their habitats. Recognize that environments can change and this sometimes poses danger to living things. Describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to observable characteristics.

Evolution and inheritance. Identify how animals are adapted to their environment.

Art: Improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including sculpture with natural materials. Learn about artists in history.
 

Outline:

  • Pupils will understand the term habitat and will explore the local area looking at various habitats.
  • They will play games to discover more about some of Derbyshire’s wildlife including their basic survival needs.
  • Pupils will explore the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a well known land artist.
  • Pupils will discover the difference between sculpture and art
  • They will have a go at making their own pieces of land art using natural materials and another artistic creation which they may take home.

Ratty needs a home

Learn all about The Wind in the Willows' Ratty (aka a water vole) and determine if the local stream is a suitable home.

Available at: the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: full day.

National Curriculum links:

Science

Working scientifically: Ask relevant questions, make careful observations and use results to make simple conclusions. Using straight forward, scientific evidence to answer questions or to support findings. Setting up simple practical enquiries and fair tests.

States of Matter: Observe that some materials change state when heated or cooled, identify the part played by evaporation and condensation in the water cycle.

Living things and their habitats: Recognise that living things can be grouped, explore classification keys to help group, identify and name living things. Describe differences in life cycles of insects and mammals. Recognise that habitats can change and this can pose dangers to living things.

Adaptation and evolution: Recognise that living things are adapted to their environment in different ways.

Geography

Human and physical geography: The distribution of natural resources water. Understand key aspects of rivers and the water cycle.
 

Outline:

  • Pupils will discover the habitat requirements of a water vole.
  • They will explore adaptation by studying the features of a water vole.
  • Pupils will carry out a survey to determine the suitability of a local stream as a habitat for voles.
  • They will take measurements including stream width, depth, temperature and flow rate using a variety of appropriate instruments.
  • Pupils will make decisions regarding the suitability of the habitat based on factual survey results.
  • Pupils will discover that water creatures can be used to survey pollution levels in a wetland habitat and know the term ‘pollution indicators.’

River Derwent Otter Spotters

Measuring flow rate and depth, and assessing if the river would be suitable for an otter to live in.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre.

Duration: half day (1hr 30min).

National Curriculum links:

Science

Working Scientifically

  • asking relevant questions
  • setting up simple practical enquiries
  • making careful observations and where appropriate, taking accurate measurements using standard units, using a range of equipment including thermometers
  • record findings using labelled diagrams and tables
  • report on findings from enquiries using oral and written explanations
  • using results to draw simple conclusions and raise further questions
  • using straight forward scientific evidence to answer questions or to support their findings.

Animals, including humans 

  • identify that animals need the right types of nutrition and they can not make their own food

Living Things and their habitats

  • recognise that living things can be grouped in a variety of ways
  • recognise that environments can change and that this can sometimes pose dangers to living things
  • construct and interpret a variety of food chains, identifying producers, predators and prey
  • describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to common observable characteristics and based on similarities and differences, including micro-organisms, plants and animals

Evolution and inheritance

  • identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in different ways

Ouline: 

  • Pupils will discuss the adaptations of an otter by studying its features.
  • They will discover the habitat requirements of an otter.
  • Pupils will carry out a survey to determine the suitability of the river as a habitat for otters.
  • They will take measurements of the depth, temperature and flow rate of the river using fair tests and a variety of appropriate equipment.
  • Pupils will draw an annotated field sketch of the river.
  • They will make decisions regarding the suitability of the habitat based of factual survey results
  • Pupils will be working together and communicating well as a team to ensure safety and clear recording of results.

Rocks and soils

Discover the importance of rocks and soils with a hands-on day of investigation. Walk back in time to when the rocks were formed and learn about different uses for rocks. Get mucky studying soil to find out what it is made from then try to make you very own soil from scratch.

Available at: Carsington or WCC

Duration: Rocks and soils whole day - Rocks half day/Soils half day

National Curriculum links:

Science:

Rocks: compare and group together different kinds of rocks on the basis of their appearance and simple physical properties. Describe in simple terms how fossils are formed when things that have lived are trapped within rock. Recognise that soils are made from rocks and organic matter.

Working scientifically: asking relevant questions and using different types of scientific enquiries to answer them. Setting up simple practical enquiries, comparative and fair tests. Identifying differences, similarities or changes related to simple scientific ideas and processes

Outline:

  • Earth timeline and Earths clock poem
  • Limestone and gritstone formation
  • Classifying rocks and their uses
  • Hands-on soil study
  • Soil formation activity

Secrets of the River Derwent

Find out about the life and health of the river using simple chemical tests and dipping with nets.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre.

Duration: half day (1hr 30min).

National Curriculum links:

Science

Working Scientifically

  • asking relevant questions
  • making careful observations
  • record findings using tables
  • report on findings from enquiries using oral explanations
  • using results to draw simple conclusions and raise further questions
  • using straight forward scientific evidence to answer questions or to support their findings.
  • Identifying scientific evidence that has been used to support or refute ideas or arguments

Animals, including humans

  • identify that animals need the right types of nutrition and they can not make their own food

Living Things and their habitats

  • recognise that living things can be grouped in a variety of ways
  • explore and use classification keys to help group, identify and name a variety of living things in their local and wider environment
  • recognise that environments can change and that this can sometimes pose dangers to living things
  • describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to common observable characteristics and based on similarities and differences, including micro-organisms, plants and animals

States of Matter

  • identify the part played by evaporation and condensation in the water cycle and associate the rate of evaporation with temperature

Evolution and inheritance 

  • identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in 

Geography - Human and Physical Geography 

Describe and understand key aspects of:

  • river and the water cycle
  • the distribution of natural resources - water

 Outline:

  • Understand the water cycle and river systems.
  • How pollution affects the quality of water which in turn can kill creatures and destroy their habitats.
  • Understand where pollution comes from and how it can get into a river system.
  • River dip and identify aquatic invertebrates to assess how clean the river is.
  • Life cycle of river creatures.
  • How to use appropriate fieldwork techniques.
  • Follow up worksheet provided to extend the activity back in the classroom.
     

Water Filtration Challenge

Understand man's influence on the water cycle and have a go at cleaning up 'reservoir soup'.

Available at: the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: full day.

National Curriculum links:

Geography

Human and physical geography: The distribution of natural resources water. Understand key aspects of rivers and the water cycle.

Science

Working scientifically: Setting up simple practical enquiries and fair tests.

States of Matter: Observe that some materials change state when heated or cooled, identify the part played by evaporation and condensation in the water cycle
 

Outline:

  • Pupils will explore man’s influence on the water cycle.
  • They will understand the use of reservoirs and how water needs to be cleaned before it is piped to our homes.
  • Pupils will have a go at cleaning ‘reservoir soup’ using various water filtering techniques.
  • They will explore ways in which they can become water wise.

What do barn owls eat?

What makes an owl good at hunting at night? And what do they catch? Find out in this indoor activity by pulling bones out of an owl pellet and identifying the skulls using keys.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre and the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: half day (1hr 30mins).

National Curriculum links:

  • Science KS2
    Sc2: Life Processes and living things, humans and other animals, variation and classification, living things in their environment adaptation and feeding relationships.
  • Supports QCA
    Science: 4B habitats, 6A interdependence and adaptation. 

Outline:

  • To be able to tell the difference or identify each owl.
  • Know where it lives, how it hunts and what it eats.
  • What a pellet is and how to identify bones.
  • Barn owl conservation.

What's in our pond?

The ponds in our wildlife gardens provide an excellent opportunity to study freshwater habitats. Observational skills are encouraged and simple keys are used. A firm favourite for Key Stage 2.

Available at: the Whistlestop Centre and the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: half day (1hr 30min).

National Curriculum links:

Science

Working scientifically: Ask relevant questions, make careful observations and use results to make simple conclusions. Using straight forward, scientific evidence to answer questions or to support findings.

Animals: Identify that animals need the right type of nutrition and they can not make their own food.

Living things and their habitats: Recognise that living things can be grouped, explore classification keys to help group, identify and name living things. Construct a variety of food chains, identifying producers, predators and prey. Describe differences in life cycles of insects and mammals.

Adaptation and evolution: Recognise that living things are adapted to their environment in different ways. 

Outline:

  • Short presentation with discussion of why ponds are important and how to identify aqautic insects.
  • Pond dip and use keys to identify the catch.
  • Draw creatures after close observation.
  • Understand life cycles of pond creatures.
  • The importance of returning the creatures carefully to the pond afterwards.
  • Follow up worksheet provided to extend the activity back in the classroom.
     

Whose Carsington?

An investigation into the sustainability of Carsington Water and the chance to pitch ideas for the future of the reservoir in the Dragon's Den.

Available at: the Wildlife Discovery Room.

Duration: half or full day.

National Curriculum links:

Science:

Living things and their habitats: Describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to observable characteristics.

Evolution and inheritance: Identify how animals are adapted to their environment.

Art

Improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including sculpture with natural materials. Learn about artists in history. 

Literacy

Speaking: To speak with confidence in a range of contexts, adapting their speech for a range of purposes and audiences. Literacy To develop understanding and appreciation of literary texts. Read stories, poems and plays aloud. Composition use language and style that are appropriate to the reader.
 

Outline:

  • Pupils will look at the history of the valley and the decisions that led to the building of Carsington Water reservoir.
  • They will investigate Carsington Water as a water resource, place for recreation and an important wildlife site.
  • Pupils will survey the site and discuss the ‘user groups’ and facilities available.
  • They will look at potential user group conflicts and in groups come up with their Big Idea for the future development of Carsington Water.
  • Pupils will ‘sell’ their Big Idea in the Dragon's Den which will lead to a whole class debate.
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