Education programmes

Many forests have produced education programmes that give teachers greater detail of the services available and the types of activities that are undertaken.

Belvoir Park Forest Education Programme

For the benefit of Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils Belvoir Park Forest offers an extensive 2 to 3 hour guided educational walk. This includes environmental, historical and scientific topics.

Animal identification/classification

Children will have supervised direct contact with some of the animal specimens in the exhibition centre and also observe and identify those in the glass display cases.

Guides will also provide, at this stage, a short picture and clue activity to introduce the subject of animal classification.

Tree identification

Using the natural seasonal tools, guides will identify the main species/groups of trees within Belvoir (broadleaves and conifers).

Children will collect and observe samples of leaves, nuts, fruit and seeds to make comparisons between species.

Simple and compound leaves will also be highlighted.

Trees - how, why and where they grow

In the forest, guides will introduce many different activities which will introduce the idea that a tree is a living thing and that it, like us, has preferences to where it lives and how it too can be harmed by both man's influence and nature's diseases.

Sustainability

Guides will introduce activities to explain the work that is carried out in the forest to ensure that man can also have a positive influence on its growth and maintenance.

Woodland eco systems

Children will learn how the different plants in the forest rely on each other to survive. This will introduce them to food chains and food webs.

Wildlife of the forest

Children will be introduced to the habitats and life cycles of the common mammals and birds found at Belvoir. 

Some dormant burrows will be used to illustrate and emphasise the need for man not to disturb wildlife.

Flora of the forest

This is a subject that is obviously dependant on the season visiting the forest.
Spring and summer provide a huge variety of wild flowers and plants to observe and identify.

Mini beast hunt

An activity where children can use magnified glasses and containers to find their own mini beasts and learn where to find them.

Here it can be impressed upon them the importance of the mini beasts to the forest eco system and that they must be treated gently and with respect .

The forest waste disposal system

Guides will introduce the topic of fungi (for observation and discussion only), emphasizing their role and importance in the woodland eco system.

People from the past

The children will see evidence of the human occupation of Belvoir as far back as the Normans.

Colours of nature

An activity where children will be issued with colour cards and asked to match them up in nature.

The following specialist subjects are also available:

  • the red squirrel: a year in the life, habitat, threats and conservation
  • animal signs/tracks and trails - when animal sightings are minimal, we can learn how to confirm their presence in other ways

Forest guides can also facilitate older groups for GCSE or A Level field trips.

Castlewellan and Tollymore Forest Park Education Programme

This is a joint programme between Castlewellan and Tollymore Forest Park. Each forest education programme is directed to Key stage 1 and 2. Our programmes may be extended to facilitate Key stage 3 and 4 with prior notice. Any topic within the package can be emphasised or mixed with other packages through consultation between guides and teachers.

Education packages

Wildlife in the forest

Woodland mammals/birds, their life cycles and habitats, with associated food chains, environments and conservation programmes. (Delivered indoors using stuffed animals, samples of diet, bat and bird boxes.)

Subjects: science, geography, English, art and design and religion.


Tree studies

Identification of trees, distinctions between conifer/broadleaf species, life cycles/ seasons, regeneration/seed dispersal, tree physiology, timber qualities and the concept of sustainable renewable resources. (Delivered indoors using leaves, identification charts, seeds, wood, roots and bark, and timber samples.)

Subjects: science, geography, technology and design, maths, English, art and design, and religion.


The forest floor

Woodland ecology, insects, plants, and fungi, also linked to nutrient recycling. Differences between conifer and broadleaf woodland floor, levels of light, etc. Pollution and conservation issues. (Delivered indoors using 'beasty box', rotten wood and leaves, plants and flowers, mosses and ferns, litter.)

Subjects: science, geography, English, art and design, religion, technology and design.

Conservation

Native animals, trees and plants, eco-systems, pollution, litter and vandalism. bio-diversity action plans, habitat action plans, species action plans (red squirrels). (Delivered indoors using stuffed animals, leaves and seeds, bark, litter and pollution experiments.)

Subjects: science, geography, English, art and design, religion, and physical education.


Seasons in the forest

Seasonal change and the associated effects on individual trees and the wider woodland community. Focus on each season as it occurs. (Delivered indoors using leaves/buds/seeds/twigs/bark and identification sheets, stuffed animals/birds, 'beasty box').

Subjects: science, geography, English, art and design, and religion.


The working forest

Production forestry: historical aspect, modern techniques, use of timber. Idea of sustainable development and renewable resources. Multi-use forests used for various activities within recreation and amenity, balanced against landscape design factors and environmental concerns. (Delivered indoors using workbooks, photographs, etc.)

Subjects: science, history, maths, English, geography, art and design, and religion.

These packages can be delivered either in the school classroom, an indoor lecture room at Tollymore forest or can be incorporated into a guided tour at your local forest, Castlewellan, or Tollymore by prior arrangement. It is recommended that any classroom work is followed up by a visit to a forest. (Length of programme by arrangement.)

Forest specific tours

Long ago in Tollymore Forest Park

History of the families and the architecture of the estate. The introduction of the first Forest Park.

The secret trail (Tollymore)

A trail consisting of ten specific stops of particular environmental or habitat interest.


The history of Castlewellan Forest Park

History of the old estate and the Annesly family who lived there.


The world around us

This programme links history with geography and science in studying the natural environment, and encourages pupils to think about their own locality.


Peace Maze (Castlewellan)

Various programmes directed to key stage I & II Maths, Geography, Personal Development/Citizenship.

Guided tours of Castlewellan National Arboretum

General tour. Specialist topics by arrangement.

Specialist Programmes

  • red squirrel conservation - habitat, life cycle, diet, possible extinction, conservation programme
  • hedgehogs - hedgehog year, habitat, diet, hibernation, garden hazard (Live hedgehog when available), creating hedgehog friendly school grounds
  • Fallow deer - woodland habitat study (Tollymore Forest Park)

Glenariff Forest Park Education Programme

Sensory activities

  • sight - scavenger hunt, forest investigation, camouflage game, colour palettes
  • smell - scratch and sniff, autumn/spring smells
  • sounds - listening in the forest, bird song

These activities are especially good for early years and foundation classes, but they also work well for a fun forest visit for all ages. Some of these activities are included in most guided walks to help stimulate interest and encourage a sense of fun. Enjoyment is a good first step towards interested investigation and discovery.

Life in the forest

  • tree studies - from simple tree identification and structure games to collecting data and investigating the importance of trees in conservation, recreation and industry
  • forest animals - bug hunts, pond-dipping, tracks and trails, life cycles and life styles, food chains
  • seasonal activities - spring, nest boxes, woodland flowers, autumn, seed dispersal, hibernation, migration

A forest visit can bring to life specific parts of the curriculum dealing with the world around us. We can also incorporate English, maths and art. Stories help children to absorb information. We also use games to improve skills. We aim to work closely with teachers and can include activities and information relevant to what is being taught in the classroom. We can also include topics from the following sections in guided tours, and adapt them for any age or ability.

Sustainable forestry education pack - Key stage 3 and 4

A programme designed to encourage students to work in small groups to solve problems, question environmental management and design a sustainable forest for the 21st century.

Curriculum areas:

  • geography (Themes C Ecosystems and Theme E Economic Activity and Development) 
  • biology
  • mathematics
  • economics
  • numeracy 
  • literacy  
  • generic skills - personal, interpersonal, thinking and learning


Key terms:

  • primary industry
  • ecosystem
  • nature conservation
  • local and global issues
  • sustainability
  • citizenship
  • economic awareness
  • environmental responsibility

Forest guides can provide teachers with a hazard statement specific to each forest to be used for your risk assessment.

If you are planning a visit to a forest without a guide, we would still ask you to contact Forest Service. This enables us to help you meet your requirements of a risk assessment by using our hazard statements.

Gortin Glen Forest Park Education Programme

Due to temporary staff shortages any school parties attending Gortin must be limited to 20, unless staff with a particular interest are willing to lead groups. Thank you for your consideration.

Key stage 1

  • woodland wanders - learn about the forest using stories and games
  • teddy bear picnic
  • Christmas capers - help Santa feed his reindeer at Christmas time.

Key stage 2

  • flora and fauna trail - this trail explores the forest using the five senses. and introduces the deer, red squirrels and birds of the forest 
  • red squirrels - learn about this endangered species through games and activities throughout the forest
  • mini beast safari - discover and learn about invertebrates in the forest ecosystem
  • mathematics trail - aimed at both key stage 2/3 this trail encourages practical application of mathematical principals in the forest eg measuring tree height or calculating car park area
  • orienteering - aimed at key stage 2/3 there are three courses of varying ability set within the forest - this activity can be led and introduced by a Forest Guide.

Key Stage 3 and 4

  • sustainable forestry programme - explore the environmental, economic and social aspects of the forest industry in a unique forest programme which also develops teamwork and inter-personnel skills
  • guided forest walks
  • assistance with river and soil studies
  • mathematics trail
  • orienteering

Youth groups

  • Gortin team challenge - a team competitive test of orienteering, forest games and mental challenges with a certificate for the winners
  • orienteering
  • guided woodland walks

Gosford Forest Park Education Programme

Our education programme may be extended to facilitate all key stages with prior notice. Any topic within the package can be emphasised or mixed with other packages through consultation between guides and teachers.

Activities/projects in the forest

The large and small creature trail (suitability: reception / KS1)

Tailored to meet the needs of the younger people includes a walk to the ponds, feeding the fish, visiting the poultry/rabbits, and viewing the various breeds of sheep, cattle (Longhorn and Dexter) in the paddocks and looking at the red deer herd.

The flora and fauna trail (suitability: KS2 & KS3)

Forest walks dealing with the mini-beasts, birds, and animals, including the red and grey squirrels, encountered on the way. In length this walk would be approximately 1½ miles, but can be tailored to meet the needs of the group.

The mathematical and botany trail (suitability: KS2 & KS3)

Introducing tree measuring, calculating height, width and age. Also discussing the types and differences of the many and varied trees in the arboretum such as seasonal changes.

Earth education trail (suitability: all KS pupils)

Walk through the forest incorporating different tasks such as sniff and scratch or forest detectives. These activities are used to enhance an awareness of the environment through taste, touch, and smell, making use of our five senses to put us in touch with nature.

Other activities

The following activities are available on request and may be carried out in your local forest. All equipment will be available from the forest guides:

  • pond dipping (nets, magnifying specimen jars - provided)
  • slide show (slides of the forest, birds, animals)

Portglenone Forest Education Programme

Sensory activities

  • sight - scavenger hunt, forest investigation, camouflage game, colour palettes
  • smell - scratch and sniff, autumn/spring smells
  • sounds - listening in the forest, bird song

These activities are especially good for early years and foundation classes, but they also work well for a fun forest visit for all ages. Some of these activities are included in most guided walks to help stimulate interest and encourage a sense of fun. Enjoyment is a good first step towards interested investigation and discovery.

Life in the forest

  • trees studies - from simple tree identification and structure games to collecting data and investigating the importance of trees in conservation, recreation and industry
  • forest animals - bug hunts, pond-dipping, tracks and trails, life cycles and life styles, food chains
  • seasonal activities - spring, nest boxes, woodland flowers, autumn, seed dispersal, hibernation, migration

A forest visit can bring to life specific parts of the curriculum dealing with the world around us. We can also incorporate English, maths and art. Stories help children to absorb information. We also use games to improve skills. We aim to work closely with teachers and can include activities and information relevant to what is being taught in the classroom. We can also include topics from the following sections in guided tours, and adapt them for any age or ability.

Sustainable forestry education pack - Key stage 3 and 4

A programme designed to encourage students to work in small groups to solve problems, question environmental management and design a sustainable forest for the 21st century.

Curriculum areas:

  • geography (Themes C Ecosystems and Theme E Economic Activity and Development)
  • biology
  • mathematics
  • economics
  • numeracy
  • literacy  
  • generic skills - personal, interpersonal, thinking and learning

Key terms:

  • primary industry
  • ecosystem
  • nature conservation
  • local and global issues
  • sustainability
  • citizenship
  • economic awareness
  • environmental responsibility

Forest guides can provide teachers with a hazard statement specific to each forest to be used for your risk assessment.

If you are planning a visit to a forest without a guide, we would still ask you to contact Forest Service. This enables us to help you meet your requirements of a risk assessment by using our hazard statements.

Other forests that can be used as outdoor classrooms

Portglenone Forest

This forest is an excellent ‘outdoor classroom’ with a wide variety of forest habitats within easy distance from the car park. Pond-dipping is also available at this forest. Toilet facilities on site are accessible by wheelchairs.

Somerset Wood

Located near Coleraine, this forest has a good variety of trees and woodland plants, and a selection of pathways. The ‘Millennium Mile’ is a short, level, smooth-surfaced path suitable for less agile people. Two planters along the route have a range of plants to engage the senses of touch and smell.

Derrynoyd Forest

With stands of oak, spruce and plenty of other tree species along the ‘Boundary Walk’. 

Downhill Forest

Downhill Forest has a great variety of unusual trees, and two spectacular old Sitka Spruce trees, the fattest in Ireland. It also offers a range of woodland habitats. Pond-dipping is possible.

Ballypatrick Forest

A large coniferous forest with spectacular views, historic monuments, and a newly created wildlife area. We can explore woodland and heathland habitats, and offer pond-dipping.

Other forests

If there is a suitable forest near your school, our guides will travel to assist with guided walks and projects.

Further Information

How to book your visit

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