Pupils from Hillside Primary School have been getting ‘hands on’ experience of some of Wheelgate Park’s unusual animals.
The ‘Wheelgate on Wheels’ project showed pupils an albino corn snake, a giant African millipede, a giant African land snail and baby Lionhead rabbit and children were allowed to handle the animals after learning all about their natural habitats and behaviour.
Poppy Andrew, aged eight, took part in the class and said she enjoyed it.
“I saw a snake, a rabbit, a snail and a millipede and my favourite was the rabbit called Shadow. It was small and cute.”
Although Poppy didn’t handle any of the animals she was in no doubt which one she would like to hold, “I would like to hold the snake; I thought it would be interesting.”
Lucy Hacker, farm manager at Wheelgate Park in Farnsfield said that the lessons they provide tie in with school work.
“We brought four animals with us today as part of an educational road trip which will tie in to the schools work and is tailored to suit the key stage that the pupils are in,” said Lucy.
“For example, if a school was doing a rainforest project or woodland project we would focus the lessons and choose the animals based on that.”
Lucy says that there are a good number of children who prefer the creepy crawlies to the cute and cuddly and that handling them can change perceptions. “The children today have been really interested and focused and the lessons show that if handled correctly, and if the pupil knows a lot of things about the animal, that initial fears often disappear.”
Hillside teacher, Adam Leivers–Dunn, said the lesson worked very well: “It was great to have the visitors coming to the school; we know at Hillside that this is a really valuable way of providing different learning experiences for the children.
“Because the lesson involved animal handling it made it exciting and motivating. It’s a great way for children to learn as not every child will get to go to places or see this type of thing at home, so it was great that Wheelgate staff came in to our school.
“It was fantastic to see the way the children were interested and wanted to know more.”