At Perivale Wood you can bring your primary school class for an environmental education session or a forest school session. The sessions are delivered by our environmental science teachers and forest school practitioners.

Our environmental education sessions are based on the national curriculum for science. For most year groups we offer two different sessions, which can be done independently as a two hour, half day session or together as a full day session.

A two hour session costs £100 and a full day session costs £200.
During your visit you have use of our Bluebell Centre, which includes a classroom for 30 children, a boot room to store any belongings and toilets. Many of the sessions take place in the Central Clearing, which is in the middle of the woodland where there is a habitat area complete with a bug hotel and log seating area. We also use the wildflower meadow and pond areas during late spring, summer and autumn.

We also cater for SEN groups and can adapt the session plans to suit your needs.

Summaries for each session can be found below as well as our booking form.

Autumn

At the start of this session we will read ‘We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt’ by Steve Metzger. We will then go on an autumn scavenger hunt through the wood looking for and collecting things such as fallen oak leaves, bugs and spider’s webs. Each child will also collect 5 different leaves of their choice. Back at the Education Centre the children will look at their collected items with magnifying lenses and under the microscope. This will develop their observation skills. They will identify the bugs caught and have a discussion about where they were found. At the end of the session the children will paint their leaves and make them into a leaf crown.

Winter

At the start of this session we will read ‘The Listening Walk’ by Paul Showers. We will then go on a sensory trail around the wood looking for items such as tickly lichen, soggy decomposing leaves and waxy evergreen leaves. The children will be encouraged to feel each item with their eyes closed to enhance their sense of touch. The children will then dig for worms in the wormery and collect some fresh leaf litter for the worms to eat. The children will be taught how to handle a worm and will be encouraged to hold a worm and observe at close range. Back at the Education Centre the children will make a wormery to take back to school. If there is time the session will end with a reading of ‘Superworm’ by Julia Donaldson.

Spring and Summer

At the start of this session we will read ‘I Love Bugs’ by Emma Dodd. We will then go into the wood and find a small tree and discuss what might live in the tree. We will then investigate the invertebrates found in The Paddock meadow using sweep nets and collecting the bugs with pooters. We will also go to the minibeast area in the wood and hunt for minibeasts under logs and in our bug hotel. The children will learn the names of the minibeasts they find. Back at the Education Centre we will look at some of the collected mini beasts with hand lenses and under the microscopes. This will develop the children’s observation skills and awareness of biodiversity. We will discuss the different between the invertebrates found in the meadow and in the woodland. Finally, the children will make a finger print bug picture to take home.

Year 1: Wild flowers and trees

During this session, the pupils will experience and observe the natural world through the exploration of common
wild flowers and trees. They will be encouraged to be curious and ask questions about what they notice. They will be asked to compare and contrast different plants to gain an awareness of biodiversity. They will use hand lenses to observe the plants in detail. Observing closely will encourage them to ask more questions and to help them suggest answers to questions asked. By the end of the session, the students will have had first-hand experience of identifying common wild flowers and native trees.

Year 1: Animals (vertebrates) of Perivale Wood

During this session pupils will have the opportunity to examine a stuffed owl and peregrine falcon to identify the features and adaptations of birds and carnivores. They will compare these to song birds (omnivores) by looking at bird skeletons. They will then move on to common mammals found in Perivale Wood, looking at a preserved pipistrelle bat, a hedgehog skeleton and the skull of a fox. Pupils will discuss whether the mammals looked at are carnivores, herbivores or omnivores. We will then move into the field and look for slow worms (as an example of a reptile) and hope to find frogs and/or newts to discuss the adaptations of amphibians. Pupils will also look for squirrels and birds. No fish are found in Perivale Wood, but the features of fish will also be covered.

Year 2: Living, dead or never alive

Pupils will begin the session with a woodland walk scavenger hunt. Back at the Education Centre they will then carry out a series of sorting and classifying activities where they will decide whether the objects they have collected are living, dead or have never been alive. In addition to the objects collected they will also have the opportunity to examine a fox skull and stuffed owl. Pupils will then discuss the life processes that are common to all living things and take time to observe some of these processes in a woodlouse as it explores a microhabitat created by the pupils themselves.

Year 2: Habitats

During this session pupils will investigate the living things found in a woodland habitat. They will look for signs of animal life during a woodland walk and will spend quiet time in the woodland using their senses to answer questions about their environment. Pupils will discuss the animals and plants found in a woodland habitat and think about how they depend on each other for survival. Pupils will then investigate a log microhabitat to discover the variety of invertebrates that live there. They will record their findings and back at the Education Centre will draw a bar chart of their results and create simple food chains using some of the plants and animals observed during their time in Perivale Wood.

Year 3: Plants – structure and function

Pupils will begin this session in a wild flower meadow where they will identify the different parts of a plant and will
think about and discuss the function of each of those parts. Pupils will investigate the transport of water and nutrients up the stem by putting a flower into coloured water and observing what happens. There will then be a teacher led discussion about the requirements of plants for life and growth and this will lead into an investigation into how light levels affect the number of plants that grow. The number of plants growing in the meadow, with lots of light, will be compared to the number of plants growing in the woodland. Pupils will use random sampling methods and quadrats to collect their data.

Year 3: Life cycle of flowering plants

Pupils will look closely at a flower to identify the male and female parts. They will then go into the reserve to look at a range of wild flowers and will try to identify the different parts of the flowers. This will enable them to gain an understanding of biodiversity. Pupils will examine pollination and seed formation and will spend time looking for and identifying a range of pollinators in the reserve. Finally, pupils will look for examples of seeds found in the reserve and will try to work out how the seeds are dispersed. Back at the Education Centre pupils will summarise all they have learned by constructing a diagram to show the lifecycle of a flowering plant.

Year 4: Living things and their habitats

During this session, pupils will have the chance to collect important scientific data for a national bug survey hosted by OPAL (http://www.
opalexplorenature.org/). They will learn how to classify invertebrates into groups based on their common features and will use a simple key to identify invertebrates in the field. Pupils will carry out an investigation to compare the diversity of invertebrates in three different habitats (woodland, long grass and a man-made environment). This will develop their knowledge of scientific methodology, e.g. fair testing, and improve their practical skills. The results will raise questions about the positive effects of nature reserves and the negative effects of urban development on invertebrate species.

Year 5: Life cycles and reproduction – Animals

During this session pupils will observe and compare the life cycles of a grey squirrel, blue tit, frog and butterfly. Pupils will explore the differences between these life cycles and observe these animals in the wild.

Year 5: Life cycles and reproduction – Plants

Perivale Wood is home to thousands of bluebells, which flower in April. Bluebells carry out both sexual and asexual reproduction. During this session pupils will investigate the life cycle of the bluebell in this beautiful setting. They will identify the male and female parts of the bluebell flower and learn about how pollination occurs. They will learn about how bluebells carry out both sexual and asexual reproduction and will compare the differences between both methods of reproduction.

Year 6: Living things and their habitats

During this session pupils will begin by building on their learning about grouping living things in year 4 by looking at the classification system in more detail. They will focus on the species found in Perivale Wood nature reserve and will complete activities to decide into which group these species should be classified. The work of Carl Linnaeus will be discussed. Pupils will then examine the classification of invertebrates in more detail and will devise a key that will be used to classify unknown invertebrate species into an invertebrate group. The class will then go into the nature reserve and carry out an OPAL Biodiversity Survey which looks at the biodiversity of invertebrates in a hedge. The OPAL Biodiversity Survey provides an opportunity for pupils to carry out a  scientific survey where the outcome is not known (it is not a ‘fair test’ style of science practical). It is an opportunity to be part of a groundbreaking national survey that makes a real contribution to our wider knowledge. The data collected will be used to determine the condition of the hedge investigated. Suggestions for classroom activities building on the field work done at the reserve will be available.

Den building

Perivale Wood is the ideal location for a den building session. Younger children can learn about habitats in the woodland then build a small den for a cuddly toy out of natural materials. Older children can use the coppiced hazel, ropes and sheets to build a den big enough for themselves. This is a great activity for developing team work skills.

Forest School