fly agaric

 

 

 

deer calf

 

 

 

hornbeam avenue

 

 

 

harvest mouse

 

 

 

sunset

 

News

September 2017

I am looking forward to the new school year. Over the last 12 months, I have continued to expand my display and now have fox, badger and fallow deer skins which the children can stroke and examine, as well as the rabbit and mole skins I already had. I have bought a set of replica birds' eggs which show off the variety of beautiful colours, patterns and sizes in the eggs of our local birds. It is funny that the children usually comment that they are like Mini Eggs, rather than the other way round!

I have expanded my collection of bird skulls, so children can compare the beaks of a mallard duck, parakeet, coot, moorhen, woodpigeon and jackdaw. I already have the beaks from a tawny owl, little owl, robin, green woodpecker, woodcock and great tit in display cases with their skeletons. By looking at the beaks and thinking about the birds' diet, children can see evidence of Adaptations.

In the Spring I was given complete skins from a mandarin duck and a jay, a magpie, snipe and woodcock, as well as sets of wings from grouse, partridge and teal duck. They are all so beautiful and show off the intricate colours, shapes and arrangement of feathers on every part of the wing.

John Lock very kindly donated an absolutely enormous red deer antler and one from a fallow deer. Some of the younger children can hardly hold them up! It is incredible to see the difference in sizes between the antlers from the same species of deer. I have also added a lovely fallow deer antler, covered in the soft velvet skin, which is present when the antlers are growing. Also, an enormous deer's foot and a fallow deer's black and white tail, together with more deer skulls.

I spend lots of time photographing my exhibits with my macro lens and through my stereo microscope. There is incredible detail in every part of every specimen, from the veins in a dragonfly's wing to the hairs on a bee's knees and the scales on a butterfly's wings. So much beauty, which goes completely unnoticed by us all.

In April 2017, I displayed the Collection at the Royal Geographical Society, for the launch of the wildlife film of Richmond Park, presented by Sir David Attenborough. The film is breathtaking, with wonderful close up and slow motion shots and aerial views of the Park. There were about 500 guests at the launch including 80 invited school children. The event and film were promoted by the Friends of Richmond Park.

During the rest of 2016/2017, I continued to take the Collection into local primary schools and nurseries and attended some events for the general public, like the Orleans House Spring Safari and the Richmond Park 10 Mile Run. In schools, my two most popular workshops for Key Stage 2 are Adaptations & Bones. For nurseries and the younger children, I usually give a short slideshow with photos of the local wildlife and spend longer with the children exploring the display.

May 2016

Kings Oak Primary School, Kingston

I returned here on May 25th to see two Year 5 classes for workshops on Animal Adaptation & Variation. I set up the display in a beautiful new classroom, with loads of space and empty tables. Wonderful! The children were really excited to see all the different exhibits, especially the insects from other countries, the grass snake egg cases, the pipistrelle bat skeleton and the mummified slow worm.

Stephanie Playle,a Year 5 teacher said 'Thank you so much for such an exciting, stimulating and engaging workshop on Wednesday. We have been talking and writing about it ever since.'

Mrs S Sharma Chan said 'The workshop was very well presented, extremely clear and easily understood by the students it was aimed for. It was an amazing display of artefacts and information. There were many facts that I did not know myself, like how the butterfly tongue splits in half to be cleaned.'

KIngs House Nursery, Richmond

On Monday I came to this nursery for maybe the fifth time, to show the Collection to the young 3 /4 year olds. I saw them in small groups and they all had time to see a slideshow and touch and feel the bones, skulls, skins and feathers and try on the antlers. At the end they all sat together for another slideshow looking at wildlife photos from Rihccmond Park to see different animal behaviour.

Ashley Primary School, Walton on Thames

I returned here for the third year to run workshops on Food webs for two Year Five classes. I spent 1 1/2 hours with each class. We had the introduction and time to explore the display, then a slideshow on Food Webs and two different activities exploring who eats what in Richmond and Bushy Park.

Louise Athersuch, KS2 Leader thought the display was 'Astounding! So much variety and loved that there was so much for the children to touch.It really helped to add context to our learning about nature. A hands-on experience.'

Killian Smith, age 10 said 'It was amazing finding out facts about our local animals. It was brilliant making the food webs. Although it was complex learning who eats what, it was really fun. I learnt that badgers are one of the only creatures that can eat hedgehogs.'

St Paul's Junior School, Kingston

On May 16th I returned to St Paul's Junior School in KIngston to run three workshops for Year 3 0n Habitats. The children had seen the Collection a few years before but were still very excited to investigate the display and think about the animals which live in different local habitats.

A School Governor was there to observe the workshop and she was amazed at the extent and variety of the display. She thought it was an 'inspiration!'

West Wimbledon Primary School

On May 4th I went to my nephews' school for the first time and saw three Year One classes for workshops on Local Animals. The children were very excited by the display and loved the photos in the slideshow.

Mrs Ali said

'The children absolutely loved the workshops and have been buzzing with excitement all day. I have heard lots of conversations about scorpions and spiders in the corridor and many have asked when you are coming back next! Your presentations were excellent and we all learnt lots from them. Staff are extremely keen to invite you back in again and we will certainly do so early next year, with Year 2 included too.'

April 2016

Riversdale Primary, Wandsworth

I came to this school for the first time and spent two whole days, seeing everyone from Reception to Year Six. Most years have two classes in each year. I ran workshops on Local Wildlife, Adaptations and Local Habitats.

Year 4 wrote me a wonderful letter to thank me for teaching them all about different insects, mammals, amphibians and reptiles. They said the workshop really helped with their science topic of animals and they learnt all kinds of interesting facts.

Other children's comments included:

'I am going to be a collector when I grow up.', 'It was a unique collection. I loved being able to feel the objects.', 'I learnt all the names of different types of animals.'

The Science Co ordinator said

'Fabulous photographs, amazing collection of bones, feathers and skins. Wow! The Q&A at the end was fun and showed how much the children had learnt.'

Other teachers said

'Inspirational', 'Amazing. Such fabulous resources to enhance the children's learning.', 'Very interactive session.'

Lion House School, Putney

I came to this school for the morning on 25th April and ran workshops for Nursery to Year 2. The children and staff had never seen the display before and absolutely loved it.

One teacher said, 'The photos were amazing and it was great to see the artefacts and be able to touch them.The children were so engaged.'

Comments from the children included:

'I liked looking at all the head bones.', 'I liked the guessing at the end.', 'I really liked filling in the questions.', 'I learnt that badgers are nocturnal and live underground.', 'The activities were fantabadozee. I liked learning how long the animals lived for.', 'I never knew there were grass snakes in the park.', 'I learnt that mouse bones are really, really small compared to deer bones.', 'I loved the activities. I loved the sheets best.', ''I learnt who eats what and that foxes catch their prey.'

The nursery children said,

'My favourite thing was Miss Holly pretending to put deer antlers on my head.', 'I loved touching all the animal bones.', 'I loved all the colourful butterflies.', 'I loved the butterfly wings.'

Alexandra Infants School, Kingston

This morning I returned to run Mini Beast workshops for three Year 1 classes. After individual sessions with an introduction and time to investigate the bones, feathers and insect specimens in the display, the three classes came back together for the Mini Beast slideshow. During the slideshow, the children followed the stages, step by step to draw a butterfly, bee, fly, beetle and dragonfly. They were really excited at the end to leave with the pictures they had drawn and will use them for a display in the classroom.

Stanley Park Junior School, Carshalton

This was a return visit to see 3 classes in Year 3 for Bones workshops and 3 Year 6 classes for 'Adaptations'. I set up in the hall and the classes came in, one after each other, for a slideshow introduction, time to look at and feel the exhibits and a slideshow on the topic. We had some time for questions at the end, which were good fun.

March 2016

St Mary's & St Peter's Pre School, Teddington

I have come to this pre school every year and set up the display in the lovely conservatory. The little children come to me in small groups for a slideshow and time to explore the exhibits. Then at the end of the morning and afternoon, they all come and sit down together for a slideshow looking at photos of the animals doing different things in Richmond Park.

The Friends of Richmond Park Discoverers Event

One Sunday afternoon I ran an owl pellet workshop for the young Friends of Richmond Park. We took apart owl pellets, which had been coughed up in the park. The children and parents were amazed how many skulls were inside each pellet. At the end, the children used the tiny bones to make pictures, which were wonderful.

Alexandra Infants School, Kingston

I have been invited to this school again and again, over over the last 6 years. This morning I saw four Year 2 classes for Adaptation workshops. The teachers were pleased to see the extensive display, with the new additions of some real grass snake egg cases, a pipistrelle bat skeleton and a little owl skeleton.

Coombe Hill Infant School, Kingston

I have been to this school every year, for 6 years now, I think. I see all the classes, 11 in total now, in the one day. I set up the display in the hall and the classes come in one after the other for a slideshow and time to explore the display.

Barn Nursery, Kew

This was my third or maybe fourth visit to this nursery. I set up the display in a side room and saw the little children in small groups of 6 - 7 at a time. They enjoyed touching the antlers and deer legs and feeling the deer teeth inside the skull. They loved feeling the mole skin too.

February 2016

St Matthews' Primary, Surbiton

This was my first visit to the school. I spent two days here, running workshops for years 1 - 5, with two classes in each year. The teachers and children were all amazed to see what was in the display. They couldn't believe their eyes!

January 2016

Orleans Primary, Twickenham

I was invited back here to run sessions for Year 2, taking apart the Barn Owl pellets. The children really enjoyed picking out the tiny skulls and bones inside the pellets.

Kew College, Kew

I was delighted to come back to Kew College again, as I do every year in January. I set up the display in the hall and ran workshops for all the children from Nursery to Year 2, looking at the local wildlife in Richmond Park.

Tower House School, Sheen

I spent the day here, running different workshops for all the year groups, including taking apart owl pellets in the Science lab, which was great fun!

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May 2014 - December 2016 !!

I have continued to run workshops and show the Collection during this time but have not updated the news page on this website.

Sorry about the long gap! I had to get a new laptop and took ages to get the website software working on it. Then we got a new puppy, Isla, a golden retriever,who is adorable, but takes up loads of my time!

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May 2014

On 14 May I ran some workshops for Year 1 at Latchmere School in KIngston. The four classes really enjoyed the display which was set up in one of their classrooms. The children were fascinated and thought the collection was 'Amazing'and 'Really Cool!' They wanted to do my job!

The Year 1 leader agreed. She said

'The display was amazing. It really created a wonderful awe and wonder for the children as they entered. It was great that the children could have a hands on experience. You have a wealth of knowledge that was backed up with wonderful photos. Thank you so much!'

On 13 May I revisited Kings House Nursery in Richmond. This is the 4th or 5th year I have been there. I set the display up and saw the children in small groups, giving them a slideshow and time to touch and feel the bones and feathers and try on the antlers. At the end of the morning all the children came together for a slideshow of animals in Richmond Park. The teachers said they always look forward to my visit each year.

On 8 May I went to Stanley Park Junior School in Carshalton to run 'Bones' workshops for Year 3. It was my first visit to a school in that area. The children and teachers had fun exploring the display and examining the different skeletons.

Here are some of the teacher comments:

'Fabulous display, very eye catching. The children were very excited as soon as they walked into the hall. A very varied collection which focuses on local animals the children can relate to. The talk and slideshow were very professional and informative. The discussion was a good length of time for Year 3. The children were comfortable to ask questions.'

'Excellent! Such a huge range of items well presented and totally accessible to the children. Perfect for them to see and understand the skeletons of animals. The talk was informative and interesting. Timing was perfect too.'

'Eye catching, so immediately got the children's attention. A brilliant hands on experience is so useful to understand skeletons. The talk and slideshow were very informative. Not too long and too the point.'

April 2014

At the end of April I visited Tolworth Infant and Junior School to run workshops for the Year 1, 3 and 5 classes. Year 1 looked at Local Wildlife, Year 3 explored Animal Diets and Teeth and Year 5 focused on Woodland Habitats and Food Chains. I set the display up in the hall and the different classes came in for their workshops over 1 1/2 days. The children were amazed at all the bones and feathers which they could touch. They really enjoyed the workshops.

Here are a few of the children's comments

'I wish I did your job'.

'I wish I had a collection like this.'

' I wish we could all take one thing home.'

'What sort of science is this? It is really interesting.'

'How do you find all these things?'

'I love animals, so I really love this.'

'I wish I could find you again in Richmond Park'

'I can't believe all these things are real.'

Feedback from the teachers was great too.

'Fantastic! Lots of lovely things to look at and touch.' Children learnt a lot from having the opportunity to engage with the objects. The children liked the sheet and sat well for the talk.'

'Fantastic display! Great for the children to touch everything. Very educational. The children were engaged and excited to learn about animals in their area. We learnt how similar the bone patterns are to humans in all types of animals and about the different habitats the animals live in.'

'Excellent! A really fabulous hands on experience. The children thoroughly enjoyed it.'

On Tuesday 22 I took the Collection to Ashley C of E Primary School in Walton-upon-Thames. I spent the day with the two Year 5 classes looking at 'Biodiversity and Interdependence in the Woodland'. After the slideshow and time to explore the display, the children created different food webs laying out sets of wildlife photos and arrows, learning what the different animals eat. In the afternoon they sketched some of the exhibits and some of the children took apart Barn Owl pellets to discover the tiny vole, mouse and shrew bones inside. (These animals had been eaten by the owls.)

Emilie Martin, one of the Year 5 teachers said

'On behalf of the Year 5 staff and children thanks again for such an engaging and original start to our topic of Biodiversity. The children were utterfly fascinated and loved handling the artefacts.'

Richard Dunne, the head teacher described it as

'a great day of learning.'

The school has even written an article about my visit for the local newspaper!

On Thursday 3 April I visited St Mary's and St Peter's Pre School in Twickenham. This was my 4th visit. I saw the children in small groups with their teacher, 6 at a time and they had a short introductory slideshow and then looked around the 'museum'. They loved feeling the antlers and feathers. At the end of the morning and afternoon sessions, all the children came together for a slideshow with photos of animal behaviour in Richmond Park. Pictures included deer growing new antlers,a fox nuzzling her cub, a ladybird laying eggs, a jackdaw collecting nest material, a crow tossing an acorn and a tawny owl catching a mouse!

March 2014

March 31, I went back to Swaffield School in Wandsworth. I ran some longer workshops for Year 3 on Teeth and Animal Diets and for Year 4 on Animal Bones and Teeth. The children really enjoyed seeing the real bones and skulls and touching the fox and deer teeth. The teachers were delighted to see what they had been teaching brought to life, with some hands on exhibits.

On 27 March I took the two Year 6 classes from Green Lane Primary for a walk in Richmond Park. It was wonderful how much they had learned from the session with them the previous week. They were pointing out the different habitats, thinking about which animals lived there, noticing tiny bugs and woodpecker holes and looking for owl pellets. Several children said they didn't expect it to be so interesting and now they know more about the animals which live in the park, they can appreciate how much there is to learn. They were all really disappointed when we had to head for home. They had Activity Sheets to fill in about some of the animals, on the way.

On 24 and 26 March I took the Collection to Malden Manor Primary School. I saw all the classes from Reception to Year 6, (450 children), over the two days. I ran longer workshops for the KS2 children on Woodland Habitats, Pond Habitats and Owls and Owl Pellets. The children found more than 100 vole skulls in the pellets!

The head teacher met me on the morning of the second day and said

'What an amazing resource you have! Everyone was full of it on Monday and the children couldn't stop talking about it. Everyone was discussing what they had seen and learnt.'

The chair of governors sat in on some of the workshops and described it as

'Fascinating and well presented. Good that there were things the children could touch, as well as look at. Inspired excitement! Useful to back up classroom teaching.'

Teacher comments were all very positive, including:

'Amazing selection which captured the children's interest and triggered lots of questions. Really great way of children being able to see and touch nature. '

'Fantastic, really eye catching! Very interesting. Very clear and lots of knowledge brought to the session.'

'Great. The children were keen to use magnifying glasses and ask questions as they went round. Amazing! Very informative.'

On Thursday I returned to Green Lane Primary School to do 2 Owl Pellet workshops for Year 6. We took apart some Barn Owl pellets which I had been sent by a small mammal expert in Hampshire, who wanted to find out which small mammals are in his area. The children did a brilliant job picking out the tiny bones and identifying them as vole or shrew. They found more than 50 skulls in the pellets.There were even some rat bones!

On 19 March I was invited back to Maple Infants in Surbiton. The classes had each been learning about different animals that week, so I did a short talk and slideshow for each class, about Bats, Butterflies, Deer, Foxes and Owls. The children looked in detail at the bones, feathers, skins and photos which I had about their chosen animals. The class studying butterflies enjoyed seeing my butterflies, moths and caterpillars and spent some time drawing a few from the specimens. They were beautiful and very detailed!

On Tuesday 11 March I spent the afternoon at Kew Riverside, doing Bones workshops for Years 3 and 4. I have done this for several years now. One child brought in a skull she had found on holiday. The teachers were delighted to see my new badger, fox and parakeet skeletons.

I visited Cheam Common Infants on 10 March and saw the Year 1 and 2 classes, each for half an hour. The classes are named after British birds and the children enjoyed learning about the birds. I was invited to this school as the new head remembered me visiting Coombe Hill Infants when she was there. The children really enjoyed touching and feeling the antlers and bones.

On Saturday 1 March I went to the Surrey Wildlife Trust Annual Recorders' Day, which is where the wildlife experts get together and discuss what they have seen in the last year and plan for the year ahead. There were butterfly, bird, small mammal and fungi experts there, all with an incredibly detailed knowledge of their subject. There were some beautiful wildlife photos. I gave a presentation about the work I do in local schools and showed a small display.

February 2014

On Thursday I went to Coombe Hill Infants School, Kingston to show the Collection to Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. There are 3 - 4 classes in each year group so it was a very busy day! This was my 5th visit to the school. Several of the teachers noticed the new additions to the display and the children were all totally enthralled.

Feedback from Ruth Jackson and her Year 1 Class, the Hedgehogs, was very positive:

'It was awesome.' 'It was exciting' 'It was fantastic.' 'We learnt lots.' 'We want to go to Richmond Park.' 'We want her to come back tomorrow.' 'We wanted to ask her more questions.' 'It was very informative and pitched well. Just right.'

A teaching assistant described the display as:

'Clear, relevant, interactive, fun, extensive and informative!'

Last Tuesday I visited Windham Nursery in Kew. This was one of the first nurseries I ever visited and I have been back every year since 2010. I set up the display in a large conference room and ran the slideshows in a side room. I saw the children in groups of about 8 - 10, throughout the day. Several of the teachers kindly said it was their favourite day of the year, when I come to visit the nursery.The head teacher sat in on all the sessions and enjoyed watching the different reactions of the children.

After my visit two of the teachers said

'Thank you so much for your visit yesterday. As always, the children were fascinated and it was a wonderful learning experience for them. They were all very excited to share their thoughts at story group afterwards and with their parents at home time. We really appreciate all your dedication and the thought and effort which must go into your presentation and collection. It really makes the subject come to life for the children in a unique way. We hope you will be able to come again next year.'

Earlier this month I was invited back to Alexandra Infant School, KIngston for the 5th time, to link in with the children learning about Darwin. I showed the Collection to the three Year 2 classes, with each class having an introductory talk, slideshow and look around. Each session lasted 30 minutes. Then all the classes came together (90 children) for a half hour slideshow on Adaptation and Variation. The children were brilliant and absolutely enthralled, keeping their attention focused for the whole session. Here are some of the teachers' comments:

'Each year gets better! Very clear which artefacts are hands on and which are visual. The slideshow gave clear explanations of a range of adaptations, with relevant links to our own experiences.'

'Fantastic. Well laid out and labelled. The children were really engaged. All very informative.'

'Absolutely fascinating! The children really love being able to touch the exhibits and are always amazed.'

January 2014

Yesterday I visited Kew College to run workshops for the Nursery, Kindergarten, Year1 and Year 2. This is my 3rd visit to the school. I have been invited back every year since 2012. I set up the display in the hall and the children came in, one class after another, for an introductory slideshow, a look around and a short slideshow on Animal Behaviour in Richmond Park.

The Head of Infants commented,"The children learnt a great deal. They enjoyed the hands on. The slideshows set the scene and finished the visit perfectly."

Other teachers decsribed the display as 'Excellent', 'Really lovely','Amazing','Wonderful, varied,'Great range', 'Wonderful, interactive','Magnifying glasses to look closely at patterns and differences.'

Feedback on the introduction and slideshow was also very positive: 'Lovely, fast pace, great pictures', 'Good and age appropriate', 'Very good, informative and age appropriate'.

November 2013

This week I took the Collection to Ellingham Primary School in Chessington . I ran workshops, each lasting 1 1/4 hours, for the Year 1 classes. The children really enjoyed investigating the display and completing the Activity Sheets, drawing antlers, bones, feathers and some wild animals. We had a slideshow about Animal Behaviour in Richmond Park, illustrating camouflage, life cycles, nest building, moulting, feeding, territorial displays and caring for young.

There was time too for questions and answers. When I asked who would like to do my job when they grow up, about 20 children put up their hands!

Here are some of the teachers'comments:

'Excellent display! Lots to look at. Great that they are able to touch the items. They were very engaged. The children also enjoyed the worksheet.'

'Amazing. All the artefacts were put into context by the use of photos. The children were engaged and enthusiastic about handling the artefacts. The talk and slideshow were at the right level to keep the children interested and thinking about what they were seeing.'

'It is so important to learn about the animals we can see all around us. This is really lively as there is so much to see and touch. It has been brilliant. The children have stayed focused for so long.'

On Sunday I ran a Skeleton Workshop for the Discoverers (the family section) of the Friends of Richmond Park with local artist Claire McCormack. I set up the display and we ran fun activities for children age 5 -13.

workshop1
workshop
workshop4

They made mobiles of birds in flight, which showed the bird's skeleton underneath the wings. The children also created their own monsters putting together a selection of bones to make animals with various heads, tails and legs. They decorated them with feathers or animal skins. Some of the older children rebuilt vole skeletons using real vole bones which had been collected from inside owl pellets. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the morning. Thanks to Teresa Grafton for organising it. To find out more, see http://discoverers.frp.org.uk .

Here are some of the childrens' comments:

' Great fun. Once I started, I couldn't stop!'

'I loved making the monster!'

' Good. Fun stuff to do!'

'I thought the display was unique and creative.'

'The activities were fun and interesting for everyone.'

workshop6
workshop
workshop3

The parents enjoyed the display and workshop too. Here is what a few of them said.

'Absolutely mesmerized and inspired by the display. The activities were very educational but also great fun.'

''Beautiful, informative, educational and inspiring.' I leant about the differences and similarities of vole bones to those of other mammals.'

'Really impressive display. Look and touch. Very interactive. It kept my 2 boys engaged and pleased with the product.'

'My 5 year old son really enjoyed making his 7 headed monster.'

Last week I took the Collection to The Russell School in Ham. I ran different workshops for the children from Reception to Year 6. The children were all amazed and thought it was really 'cool'. Here are some comments from the staff.

Wonderful! Lots of interesting exhibits for the children to examine - very stimulating. Good for the science topics 'Adapting to the environment' and 'Camouflage'. Skeletons good for science - vertebrates and invertebrates. Also for close observational drawing in Art. (Assistant Head)

Amazing! Fascinating! The children had lots of questions to ask. Year 3 learnt so much about the bones and skeletons of animals from actually being able to see them. Photos on the slideshows really enhanced the facts being talked about. (PPA Support Teacher)

It was amazing! Interesting photos. I learnt a lot about animals and nature in the Park. A good learning tool for science. The slideshow was great.(Student from Germany)

I recently visited Swaffield Primary School in Wandsworth to show the Collection to six Year 1 and Year 2 classes. Here is some feedback from the teachers.

Fantastic! Great for the kids to be able to touch and explore all the objects. They loved it! Lovely interactive way of discovering nature. Slideshow was a good pace and helped the children connect living animals to the bones.

Awesome! Kids loved it and learnt lots from it. I also found it really interesting and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Fascinating. I wish we had more time to look at the Collection.

Amazing! Very educational. Lovely that they can touch and see things they would not normally see. The children loved it.

Very interesting. The children loved it! The children were very engaged.

Amazing! So well displayed and hands on. Very inspiring.

Amazing! Very interesting. Children will love writing and talking more about this subject.Children were focused throughout the slideshow. Very engaging.

Fab! Effective slideshow. Children were captivated and asked many questions.

Great detail. So many different things for the children to explore. Covered so many different aspects. Great educational value. The hands on approach was a great way to get the children engaged. Shame we didn't have longer!