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On safari

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By Jane Bowerconsultant to primary schools in art, drama dance and literacy

Binoculars at the ready – it’s time to head for the plains and prepare for a cross-curricular feast of animal activities

Tiger

Watching animals in their natural habitats is the best way to learn about how they behave and interact with others. Unfortunately, going on an African safari is too expensive to be a reality for most of us and is certainly beyond the realms of the average school trip! Closer to home, we can get a good impression of how animals live in the wild by visiting safari parks, such as West Midlands and Knowsley. We can also gain valuable insights from watching nature programmes and documentaries that have brought the wonder and excitement of going on safari into the safety and comfort of our sitting rooms.

The following drama, art and literacy activities are designed to help you to teach children about the lives of African animals by creating a safari park in your very own classroom! They will make children aware of the range of work and responsibilities involved in the running of a safari park – either in the UK or abroad – and the closely interwoven lives of the animals that inhabit it.

All of the activities are suitable for children aged 7-11 and can lead, if you wish, to a final ‘virtual safari’ in your classroom, hall or around your school, through which children can be guided. The accompanying activity sheet resources will add realism to the role-play activities. There is also a letter from an overland trek driver which can be used as a starting point for writing, as suggested in the literacy activity ‘George’s letter’ (see below).

Activities

1. Park life

Discuss with the children what we mean by the word ‘safari’. If any of them are lucky enough to have been on an African safari, encourage them to share their experiences with the rest of the class. If not, talk about UK safari parks that the children may have visited. What animals did they see? How do they remember feeling as they drove around?

Discuss the layout, features and people involved in running a safari park. (The April ‘07 issue of Junior Ed PLUS contains a print poster of West Midlands Safari Park.)

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