Learners enjoyed a day to remember on Tuesday 24th January when Zoolab brought a range of animals in to school for a sensory learning session.
Snakes, stick insects, and even a tarantula visited the school, and the interactive learning format brought about great engagement and excitement amongst interested learners.
As well as generating excitement, the lessons had a really scientific, educational goal. The classes were able to learn about food webs and evolution, looking at the processes that involve plants as producers through the chain of consumers from smaller animals like stick insects up to rats and snakes, and also about the process of evolution and how and why animals have developed like they have.
Learner Owen said: “I really enjoyed it, especially the snake and the stick insect as they are animals you don’t get to see often and never have the chance to touch” whilst Marcus added: “The snake was the best as it is at the top of the food chain and eats rats. It was fun to learn about them, the tarantula and how the food chain works”.
One by one a giant snail, a stick insect, and a rat were brought out for learners to hold and observe, before they were able to see a tarantula at close quarters in an open box. The moment that drew the most reaction though was meeting Terri the cornsnake, who amazingly learners were keen to touch and hold to great delight.
Zoolab’s Georgie Jefferies, who conducted the session, said: “It was a great way for learners with autism to engage with nature as it was such a sensory session where they could touch and feel the animals which really got them interested. It was a combination of education and therapy, as it was so visual and brought things to life for them, encouraging them to talk about about things they have a passion for”.
Head of Centre at LVS Oxford Louisa Allison-Bergin pointed out the multiple benefits of the school’s initiative: “The session was a great way to engage learners with the science curriculum, and follows a recent school initiative to involve them in the RSPB Birdwatch programme. It was also an opportunity for learners to take part in an activity to enhance their communication skills, which they took brilliantly, and was also a really useful sensory session to get them more familiar with animals and coping around them. There is a strong correlation between animals and autism and how young people with autism can benefit from communicating with them, and on top of that it was a treat for them too – an enriching activity which clearly they really enjoyed, which was fantastic”.
You can see an album of images from the day here.
Students with Asperger's, autism and related learning difficulties benefit from our holistic approach to helping them deal with the anxieties of everyday life.