Glendalough provides the perfect backdrop for the nature awareness programmes developed by the Education Centre. Through these programme, the guides present the mysteries of nature through a series of specially designed activities. These activities provide a fun and focused way of learning using the ingredients of imagination, sensory experience, energy and the surroundings of Glendalough. Its is hoped that through these activities we can awaken an enthusiasm and a respect for nature within the children and inspire them to look at nature in their own areas in a different light.
Our basic Nature Awareness programme is still very popular with schools, as a basic introduction to nature. The following are some of the activities used:
This nature orientated, team building exercise fosters orienteering and map reading skills and serves as an introduction to the valley of Glendalough. The children are divided into teams, each led by a teacher or parent, running between points indicated on a map. This activity normally lasts 45 minutes to an hour, and is a great way to introduce the children to their surroundings for the first time.
The scavenger hunt is a much less energetic event than the treasure hunt. Teams of children hunt for a variety of objects found in nature. Scavenger hunts often focus on particular themes, such as colour, seasons or textures. The activities are designed to focus childrens' minds towards nature's detail.
This is a short walk with a lot of fun! The emphasis is on the children exploring, discovering, and understanding processes rather than merely learning names. Several activities, using various senses, are used to explore nature. Activities include making smell cocktails and sticky pictures, sound games, meet a tree, blind trails, ‘un–nature’ trails, and memory games. These games focus on issues as varied as litter, decomposition, variety within species, animal and plant adaptations, and more.
All our games are based on themes from our environment and are used to promote the idea that nature is fun. Some games involve lots of running but also the chance to learn new things about the environment.
Some of the older primary groups get a lot of benefit from the challenge of a hillwalk. The added height of this longer walk often provides stunning views and can be a very rewarding experience for some children. Walks can take from 1 - 3 hours with varying levels of steepness and difficulty to suit all groups. Activities from the Nature Walk can also be incorporated.
For schools who have taken our Nature Awareness programme before, or want to focus on a particular area of nature, we now offer a range of themed days. These are a variation on the basic programme, but tailored for different needs and ages as below. They can be booked as a follow-up to an Outreach day; if not we can show our Outreach presentation on the subject if time permits. Most of these programmes run from March to October.
Nature For Infants
Junior & Senior Infants - A programme specially tailored for the little legs and shorter attention span of infant classes, this day is mainly concentrated on the lawns at Glendalough, with activities like a bug hunt, leaf rubbing, and looking for signs of Bigger Animals. On a fine day, this can be based entirely outside to save the group the walk up to the Education Centre.
1st-4th Class - Children in this age group love looking at bugs and minibeasts if given the opportunity, and with this programme they have the whole day to do it, with a bug presentation, bug safari and a bug quiz to test their knowledge at the end of the day.
Plants In Their Place
1st-4th Class - All life depends on plants, which provide food and oxygen for all living things. Explore why this is on our Plants in Their Place day, through games, walks and activities based on all that's green and growing.
Wildlife & Wilderness
1st-4th Class - Not many of us are familiar with our own wildlife here in Ireland. This programme offers the chance to find animals and birds through their tracks and signs on a Wildlife Safari, with the chance of seeing some of them up close! The day also includes a Wildlife Tresaure Hunt & Quiz.
5th & 6th Class - This programme looks at the various habitats in the National Park, with a short worksheet to compare and contrast the different environments and the animals and plants that live there.
Take A Hike
5th & 6th Class - This programme is for older children who are well able for a proper hike in the mountains. The day starts with a Leave No Trace treasure hunt (see our page on Leave No Trace) before taking to the hills.
During the winter months the staff of the Education Centre visit local primary schools. These visits involve a specialised nature theme (Habitats, Irish Mammals, Bugs, Bats, Plants or Birds), which is explained to the children through the use of props, slides and games. The Centre contacts neighbouring schools on a rotational basis to offer the programme.