Children from primary schools in Merseyside have been experiencing a unique safari-themed outdoor learning adventure as part of a special project to get more children excited about reading whilst encouraging them to learn and connect to the natural world around them.
The initiative was organised as part of a collaborative project between local reading charity Beanstalk and Knowsley Safari – a partnership which aims to help more school children develop a love of reading while extending their learning beyond the classroom through a range of outdoor learning activities.
These activities include a series of inspirational storytelling workshops hosted by Knowsley Safari as part of Beanstalk’s ‘Somewhere Special to Read’ scheme. So far children from Hope Primary School, Millbrook Primary School and Knowsley Lane Primary School have been taking part.
Beanstalk works with schools across Merseyside and beyond to train and place volunteers who visit schools twice a week to support children that have fallen behind with reading or who need a bit of extra one-to-one help and encouragement.
As well as school staff a number of Beanstalk volunteers were also invited along to Knowsley Safari to be part of the children’s exciting learning experience. The visits saw children enjoying a VIP early entry into the park for a special story time set to the natural sights and sounds of the park’s animals and wildlife, building the anticipation and excitement for further exploration of the park. The children were then invited to handle some animal artefacts before enjoying the walking safari tour with two knowledgeable guides.
Christine Braithwaite, Area Manager for Beanstalk North West, said: “It has been a fantastic series of events so far and we are really lucky to be teaming up with the wonderful people at Knowsley Safari to offer such an exciting outdoor learning experience for the children. For many of the schools we work with, funded opportunities like these do not come up very often, so to be able to take the children on a learning experience beyond the limitations of the classroom is just fantastic. We are really grateful to Knowsley Safari for hosting the visits and also to Manchester Islamic Girls School who helped fund the trips, as did two private donors who covered the costs of the buses and the cost of an ice-cream for each of the children. Thanks to their generosity these children had such a special day and got so much out of the whole experience. We are really looking forward to more special projects as part of the partnership.”
Knowsley Safari’s Learning and Discovery Community Officer, Hayley Worsfold, says: “We always aim to develop new and exciting ways to connect people with the natural world. At Knowsley Safari, we pride ourselves on providing opportunities for members of the community most at need and our partnership with Beanstalk helps us to further achieve this.
“The children from all three of the schools we’ve worked with so far have worked so hard to develop their literacy skills and in recognition of this, were invited to enjoy the reading within the natural surroundings at Knowsley Safari.”
Debbie McConlough, Assistant Head Teacher at Hope Primary School, said: “The children and staff enjoyed themselves immensely and were so excited to tell everybody about it when they got back to school. They felt very special to have been picked and I think it gave them a real self-esteem boost.”
If you would like to find out more about supporting the charity, having Beanstalk volunteers in your school, or becoming a trained reading helper yourself, please visit the Beanstalk website to find out all about how to get involved: www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk.