School visits

Group shotWe have welcomed hundreds of schoolchildren to the Allerton Project. As part of our remit to educate people on farming and the countryside, we see it as a way to connect increasingly urbanised children to the food chain, to see where their food comes from.

Activities range from scavenger hunts to plant identification, even working on maths skills as the children learn how many packs of their breakfast cereal are made from a metre of wheat. There’s scope for a history lesson too as the children handle musket balls, coins, buttons and pottery dating back to the English Civil War, all uncovered on the farm.

And, of course, what kid wouldn’t jump at the chance to get up close to a tractor?

Kids with tractorMichelle Armson, a Year 2 teacher from the St Philips Neri with St Bede CVA School in Mansfield, found her class’s visit beneficial for the children. She said: “Many of the children have never visited the countryside before, particularly a working farm. Jim was a marvellous host and they loved the visit. They will be talking about it for a long time, especially because Jim has given them further worksheets and activities that they will undertake at school.”

Example itinerary

09.30-10.00am – Arrive

  • Assemble in visitor centre
  • Children need to be organised into groups of five or six, each group with a teacher/carer
  • Children will give a drink and a biscuit

10.00am to 10.15am – Brief introduction

  • Explanation of the farm, the activities planned, things they might see and the rules for the day.

10.15 to 10.45am – The visitor centre

  • The visitor centre has several sustainable features such as straw bale and sheep’s wool insulation, a wood chip boiler and heating system, solar panels and rain water harvesting.
  • Each group of children are provided with a clipboard and asked to find the key environmental features in the building. Groups gather back at their desks for a feedback session where we go through the impact of the various measures.

10.45 to 12.30 – Farm walk part 1

Historical artefactsSeveral activities are including in this outdoor session.

  • Children are provided with a scavenger hunt sheet and clipboard, designed to be completed throughout the day. For each letter of the alphabet, they record something they have seen during the farm walk. Undertaken in pairs or in groups.
  • Orienteering, tree identification, seed dispersal and pollination. Each group will be given a field map with marked trees. Their task is to follow the map and collect a single leaf from each tree, identify the tree, and talk about seed dispersal and pollination for each tree. In addition to this, they will be told about specific uses for the timber from some of the trees. At the end of the exercise each group tells the story of a tree/shrub they have found.
  • History-themed activity. Each group will be given artefacts such as musket balls, old coins, pottery, etc. Finds will be examined/explained and linked to local landscape and community history.

12.30 to 13.00 – Lunch in the visitor centre, provided by school

13.00 to 14.30 – Farm walk part 2

Learning about cropsSeveral activities take place during this session with a focus on food production.

  • 90 seconds of silence. Children are silent and then asked to describe what they have heard – the activity can be repeated at school the following day.
  • A one-metre square of crop is examined and used to explain what Farmer Phil grows. We then look at examples of all the plants grown on the farm, including the harvested seed and the products that seed goes on to make. Task is to match plant to seed and product.
  • The final activity is to walk the length of wildlife habitat and record how many different insects each group can find. Talk about managing for wildlife on the farm.
  • The last stop is our giant bird feeder, which is in the Guinness Book of Records, and we talk about why we need to feed birds.

14.30 - Depart

General requirements

  • The maximum class size that we can cater for is 30.
  • A pre-visit by lead staff to complete an on-site risk assessment is required.
  • All children need to come prepared for an outdoor farm walk.
  • The school needs to provide packed lunches as required.
  • The Allerton Project will provide all materials for activities including clipboards, pens, pencils and paper.

More information

If you would like to arrange a school visit to Loddington, contact Katy Machin on 01572 717220 or allerton@gwct.org.uk.

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