Go wild - indoors

27th February 1998 at 00:00
ANIMALS. Resource Pack. The Natural History Museum. pound;9.95

ANIMAL FAMILIES. Video. Dorling Kindersley pound;6.99

THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO BEING A WILDLIFE WATCH LEADER. Teacher's pack. Free from Wildlife Watch. Age range: 5-12.

The teaching of evolutionary topics to school children below the age of 12 can be an onerous task, especially given that the information available is abstract and theoretical.

However, museums have al-ways been an excellent source of tangible evidence of the evolutionary process and have changed the way they display their specimens over the last 20 years. Along with this improvement, the quality of interpretation in terms of graphic panels and computer-aided displays has added much to their value as an educational medium.

The problem for school teachers has been to find the time to construct an educational visit that ties in with the national curriculum. The education staff of the Natural History Museum's Animals is a guide to using its specimen collection which links directly into key stages two and three. The guide covers four topics: All sorted, Suited for survival, Chance and change and The human factor.

Besides the teacher's guide, there is a book of resource sheets for pupils. Each section in the guide provides background information on the topic areas and is supplemented by museum and classroom exercises. The exercises are diverse, including everything from observation, simple experiments to role playing scenarios. Overall, the pack is a valuable teaching resource that demonstrates the gestalt nature of museums and their specimens.

Dorling Kindersley, publishers known for producing excellent children's books, also make educational videos. It was intriging to see whether their video Animal Families would be as fun and useful an education tool as their books. The video covers why animals live in groups and is narrated by a cartoon lizard, Henry. It is excellent, although probably more suitable for 6 to 12-year-olds.

One of the most powerful ways of teaching children about the environment is by encouraging them to join a group where they get hands-on experience. Wildlife Watch is a national organisation which runs such activity groups. However, before recommending a child joins, it is important to know that it is well run. Recognising this, Wildlife Watch has produced a booklet called The Essential Guide to Being a Wildlife Watch Leader, which provides excellent advice on how to run a group, deal with safety issues and the welfare of children.

* Wildlife Watch, The Green, Witham Park, Waterside South, Lincoln LN5 7JR. Tel: 01522 544 400 * The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD.Tel: 0171-938 9123 * Dorling Kindersley Family Library Stand PV142

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